RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed, for “lack of standing,” a challenge to a school policy allowing students’ gender identity to be kept secret from parents.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit dismissed a case brought forth by three parents of children attending Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, in which the parents sued over what they termed the “Parental Preclusion Policy,” claiming it violated their “fundamental right to raise their children under the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The policy, adopted by the Montgomery County Board of Education in 2020, allows school officials to withhold information from parents about students’ “gender support plans” when the school judges a family to be unsupportive of their child’s gender identity.
While admitting that the plaintiffs made “compelling” arguments against the school policy, the court ruled that the parents did not claim “the type of injury required to show standing,” since the parents made no claims “that their children have gender support plans or are even struggling with issues of gender identity,” or that “information about their children is currently being withheld.”
U.S. Circuit Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum went on to note that the parents argued “they should be able to challenge the policy before they are injured.”
“Absent an injury that creates standing, federal courts lack the power to address the parents’ objections to the Guidelines,” the court concluded, remanding the case to the district court.
Circuit Judge Paul V. Niemeyer dissented from the ruling, arguing that the majority opinion “reads the Parents’ complaint in this case in an unfairly narrow way” and “unnecessarily subject[s] the Parents by default to a mandatory policy that pulls the discussion of gender issues from the family circle to the public schools without any avenue of redress by the Parents.”
Niemeyer decried the decision as an “abdication of judicial duty” and lamented that the policy they allowed to continue “will likely continue to harm the Parents in this case by usurping their constitutionally protected role.”
He went so far as to write that the very “heartland of parental protection under the substantive Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” is at issue.
Steven W. Fitschen, president of the National Legal Foundation who is working to take the case to the Supreme Court, told Fox News Digital that his organization agrees with Judge Niemeyer, arguing that the decision means “damage” will be done before a parent can try to overturn the Montgomery County school policy.
“This is a clear violation of parental rights,” Fitschen said. “Parents do not have to wait until they find out that damage has been done in secret before they can object.”
“Furthermore, the very existence of the policy affects family dynamics, as Judge Niemeyer also pointed out,” he added. “We will be asking the Supreme Court to accept the case for review.”