Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court carrying signs advocating for LGBTQ rights

Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District

Status: Closed
Last Update: July 20, 2023

What's at Stake

In February 2020, several parents anonymously sued the Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin state court. The parents claim that the school district’s guidance that seeks to provide support for transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive students violates parental rights by allowing students to use names and pronouns at school different from those they were assigned at birth, without providing parental notification absent a student’s consent. The ACLU and ACLU of Wisconsin intervened in the case on behalf of LGBTQ student groups at schools in the district to help defend the district’s guidance.

The trial court declined to allow the parents to sue without at least informing the court and counsel for the other parties to the lawsuit of their identities. The parents appealed that ruling and the intermediate appellate court and then the Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed the trial court on that issue. The Wisconsin Supreme Court also ruled that the question of whether the school district, pending resolution of the case, should have to inform a student’s parents if a student requests to use a different name or pronouns than they were assigned at birth, even if the student does not consent to the disclosure, was not then properly before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

UPDATE: On June 30, 2023, the sole remaining plaintiff dismissed her appeal of the trial court order holding that she lacked standing to challenge the school district’s policy because there was no indication she or her child would ever be affected by the policy. This case therefore is now concluded. We were successful in defeating this effort to overturn the Madison school district’s good policy protecting transgender and non-binary students against disclosure to their parents without their consent that they are using a name or pronouns inconsistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.

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