Parents Defending Education Files Lawsuit Challenging Ohio School District’s Anti-Harassment Policies

A national group filed a lawsuit challenging Olentangy Local School Districts’ anti-harassment policies claiming that these policies violate students’ First Amendment and parents’ 14th Amendment rights.

Parents Defending Education, a national nonprofit membership association that empowers concerned citizens to become more engaged in America’s education system, filed a lawsuit against the school district in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The lawsuit claims that Olentangy Local School District’s policies “violate students’ First Amendment rights by chilling students’ speech rights, compelling students to affirm beliefs about sex and gender that are contrary to their own deeply held beliefs, and violating parents’ Fourteenth Amendment rights through the district’s efforts to restrict speech off school grounds and in families’ homes.”

According to Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily, “Students have First Amendment rights, and they do not have to shed those rights at the schoolhouse gate.”

“America’s public schools are supposed to be the nurseries of democracy, including our commitment to free expression. So when public school officials attempt to exploit the power dynamic between adults and children to force children to mouth support for viewpoints with which these students disagree, it is both immoral and unconstitutional,” Neily said.

Olentangy Local School District Policies and Student Code of Conduct include “transgender identity” as a protected group, requiring students to use their peers’ “preferred” pronouns, and allowing the district to enforce compliance through a variety of official sanctions including suspension and expulsion.

According to the lawsuit, the district communicates to students that there is only one accepted perspective on gender identity. It also alleges that the district has removed parents from critical “gender-identity” decisions through its use of “gender identity support plans,” which the district uses without first receiving parental consent.

The lawsuit also claims that the school district has also issued “transgender guidelines” instructing school staff to hide information about the student’s “preferred pronouns” from the parents unless the minor student first gives permission.

In addition, Parents Defending Education said that the school district prioritizes “gender identity” over all other issues encouraging teachers to inquire about students’ gender identity in class and encouraging students and teachers to celebrate “International Pronouns Day” and “International Transgender Day of Visibility,” and pays particular homage to events sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

According to Parents Defending Education Vice President Caroline Moore, “Olentangys’ “harassment” policies show a deep contempt for the constitutional rights of its students and families.”

“Public schools cannot force students to speak in a way that supports a viewpoint contrary to their deeply held beliefs— nor may schools follow students home to police their speech at all hours of the day on their personal devices. But Olentangy has enacted a series of overbroad ‘Anti-Harassment’ policies under the guise of ‘inclusivity’ that flout basic constitutional rights both in and outside of the classroom,” Moore said.

Parents Defending Education asked the courts to declare that Olentangy’s “harassment” provisions are unconstitutional under the First and 14th Amendments and to enjoin the district from enforcing them, punishing speech about gender identity, or compelling speech for affirming the gender identity of another person, and punishing students for speech that occurs outside of school property but is not for or during a school-sponsored event.

The Ohio Star contacted Olentangy Local School District for a comment but did not receive one before press time.

This is the latest lawsuit against an Ohio school district over student indoctrination and school staff withholding sexuality and mental health information from parents.

Earlier this year. A group of parents from central Ohio sued Hilliard City Schools in federal court on the grounds that teachers are engaging in “intimate sexual conversations” with pupils as young as six years old.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]









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