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Court Unanimously Rules To Halt District Policy That Forces Students To ‘Respect’ Gender Identity

An Eighth Circuit Court panel of judges unanimously ruled Friday that an Iowa school district’s policy requiring students and staff to “respect” their classmates’ gender identity was “unconstitutionally vague,” according to the court documents.

Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed a lawsuit against Linn Mar Community School District in August 2022 over a policy that would hide student’s “gender support plans” from their parents and required both staff and students to “respect” someone’s gender identity. The court determined that the district’s policy was “unconstitutionally vague” and decided to grant a preliminary injunction, temporarily halting the enforcement of the policy, according to court documents.

“Due to the vagueness of the policy, the case is remanded with directions to grant a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the portion of the policy prohibiting an intentional or persistent refusal ‘to respect a student’s gender identity,’” the ruling reads.

The panel overturned a lower court’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction on the policy for the duration of the lawsuit because PDE did not demonstrate “injury, causation, or redressability on its claims,” according to the ruling. The Eighth Circuit, however, claimed that there is a “credible threat of enforcement” since the policy would require a student to be “disciplined by appropriate measures, which may include suspension and expulsion” if they do not comply.

Over a dozen state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of PDE’s lawsuit, arguing that the policy strips important rights from parents regarding their own children. The court noted that this point was now “moot” following the Iowa legislature passing SF 496, which bans lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation in K-6 grade classrooms.

Nicole Neily, PDE president, said in a prepared statement that they were “gratified” by the court’s decision to uphold “the rights of families and students.”

“It is never acceptable to prohibit speech with vague terms that allow arbitrary enforcement, especially when compelled student speech is at stake, and this sends a clear message to other districts across the country with similar bullying and harassment policies on the books,” Neily said. “The Eighth Circuit also made clear that Linn-Mar’s parental exclusion policies are now unlawful throughout the State of Iowa. Yet these policies remain on the books in far too many districts across the country. Parental exclusion policies are a loser in the court of public opinion – and I have no doubt that they will eventually be struck down in the court of law as well.”

The district did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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