Featured Image
 Photo Credit: Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court denied a review to a challenge against a Maryland school district’s policy allowing for students’ gender transitions to be kept secret from parents.

The case, John and Jane Parents 1 v. Montgomery County Board of Education, was brought to the Supreme Court after a failed appeal at the 4th U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last year over an issue of standing, the parents not having any children subject to “gender-support plans” or who had spoken to school officials about gender issues. The Supreme Court did not give a reason for its refusal to review the case.

The parents, a mother and two fathers, brought the case to the Supreme Court last autumn. Their legal counsel told the court in a November brief that the issue is “not going away” and that they have a “standing to present” their case. The brief also maintained that the Montgomery County Board of Education’s guidelines violated the parents’14th Amendment due process rights to raise their children, including guiding them in “important decisions related to their health and safety.” It further said they have a right to “determine what is in the best interests of their minor children.”

“(T)his case presents an issue on the merits that is roiling parents and school districts from Maine to California,” the brief argued. “It is important for parents, their children, and public schools alike to have this issue addressed and resolved now.”

The parents had the support of several conservative groups and 17 Republican-controlled states, with West Virginia filing an amicus brief along with the 16 others in favor of the parents.

The Montgomery County Board of Education’s counsel, however, noted in its brief that its “Guidelines for Gender Identity,” adopted for the 2020-2021 school year, call for parents and the district to work in tandem to develop “gender-support plans” for students in question should the student’s family be supportive. The guidelines, the brief maintained, show that “student support and safety is an overarching goal” because some students may not feel safe or believe they will not be accepted discussing gender identity at home.

Agreeing with last year’s district court ruling, the board of education’s brief noted that there were other legal cases alleging that school districts failed to disclose to parents the gender identity of their children, and that if the parents and their supporters “are correct that similar cases are percolating through the lower courts, then the Court should address these issues, if at all, in litigation that presents an actual case or controversy.”

The Montgomery County Board of Education did not immediately respond to LifeSite’s request for comment.

Reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision, Gene Hamilton, executive director for America First Legal and one of the organizations that wrote an amicus brief for the parents, told FOX News that “Federal judges across the United States are abjectly failing to do precisely what they should do: declare what the law is and adjudicate cases and controversies between specific parties with specific claims.”

“An overwhelming number of federal judges are hiding behind false understandings of ‘standing’ and the role of federal courts as properly understood by the founders,” he continued.  “Until that changes, sadly, we are going to see more righteous cases dismissed by judges who lack the courage to do their fundamental duty.”

Likewise speaking with FOX, Kayla Toney, counsel at First Liberty Institute that also filed an amicus brief for the parents, said “Parental rights are under attack across the nation, and policies that keep gender transitions secret from parents are especially harmful to parents from many different faith backgrounds.”

The parents first filed a lawsuit against the Montgomery Board of Education in 2020. In August 2022, Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm for the District of Maryland ruled against the parents. The parents filed an appeal whereby it reached the Fourth Circuit, a panel from which ruled against the parents in a 2-1 decision.

Trump-appointed Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., writing the majority opinion, called the guidelines “staggering from a policy standpoint” but that the parents “have not alleged that their children have gender support plans, are transgender or are even struggling with issues of gender identity.”

“As a result, they have not alleged facts that the Montgomery County public schools have any information about their children that is currently being withheld or that there is a substantial risk information will be withheld in the future,” he continued. “Thus, under the Constitution, they have not alleged the type of injury required to show standing.”

Judge Paul Niemeyer, however, said in his dissenting opinion that the majority’s read of the parent’s complaint was “unfairly narrow.” He maintained that the majority was “unnecessarily subjecting 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.”

“In reaching such a conclusion, the majority totally overlooks material allegations of the complaint about the Parents’ injury, which are sufficient to give the Parents standing,” Niemeyer wrote. He also maintained that the majority’s ruling was an “unfortunate abdication of judicial duty with respect to a very important constitutional issue that is directly harming and will likely continue to harm the Parents in this case by usurping their constitutionally protected role.”

The Montgomery Board of Education has a history of supporting LGBT issues. Last Friday, a panel from the Fourth Circuit rejected parents’ bid for a preliminary injunction against the district over its mandatory list of LGBT reading materials for children from kindergarten through fifth grade as part of its English curriculum.

In May 2022, an elementary school in the district invited students to pay homage to LGBTQ ideology by holding rainbow flags and reciting LGBTQ values.

A “Guidelines for Student Gender Identity” adopted by the district in September 2021 held that students who did not feel comfortable regarding school practices oriented to “inclusivity” should seek counselling to better understand and appreciate “gender identities.” The district was also asking schools to build “at least one gender neutral restroom on each floor in high-traffic areas” and consider confidentiality while designing “gender-neutral” facilities in the future.