Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in an ongoing lawsuit against an Ohio school district over its policy regarding access to private spaces.

The case, Doe v. Bethel Local School District Board of Education, involves a policy that enables students to access private spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity rather than biological sex.

The policy was enacted without public debate or a vote by the school board.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed an amicus brief or “friend of the court” brief on behalf of Tammy Fournier, a Wisconsin mother, detailing her personal experience with a school district that she says violated her parental rights.

What is Alliance Defending Freedom?

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, marriage and family, and the sanctity of life.

Alliance Defending Freedom has established the Alliance Defending Freedom Church Alliance and Alliance Defending Freedom Ministry Alliance, initiatives to provide legal assistance to faith communities. These programs offer pro bono legal defense to churches, ministries, and religious organizations so they can navigate potential legal obstacles that may hinder their operations or religious freedom.

According to Tammy Fournier’s brief, when Fournier and her husband learned their then 12-year-old daughter had begun struggling with anxiety, depression, and questioning her gender identity, they researched the best ways to support her based on advice from medical experts. The brief states they “decided that it would harm their daughter to treat her as a boy—in particular, to refer to her with a masculine name and male pronouns.”

Their local school district, however, refused the parents’ instructions and said its policies required treating students according to their requested gender against the parents’ wishes. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys argued that this infringes on fundamental parental rights.

The Fourniers withdrew their daughter from the school district after it refused to abide by their instructions about referring to her with female pronouns. In a new district, Fournier says her daughter soon felt comfortable identifying as a girl again and has “dramatically improved.”

A Wisconsin trial court recently ruled the old district had infringed on the Fourniers’ parental rights by disregarding their directives about their daughter. But Fournier worries the new district’s transgender policies still don’t adequately protect parental authority and involvement.

In the brief, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys warn that without complete information from schools, parents lose their most basic right to guide their children’s growth on critical issues like gender.

Fournier says if the first district had discovered her daughter’s distress and kept it from her, she would have lost precious time helping her child navigate pivotal crossroads. She wants to prevent schools from standing between parents and key information about their own kids.

The brief contends that without access to complete, truthful information from schools about their children, parents cannot reasonably exercise their rights to make decisions in their children’s best interests on important issues like gender identity.

“American history and tradition establish parents as the primary decision-makers for their children. And when the government denies parents information necessary to make decisions, it denies their fundamental rights no less than if it had expressly prohibited them from making a particular decision,” the brief states.

In a statement on Alliance Defending Freedom Media, Senior Counsel Vincent Wagner contended that parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and healthcare of their children.

School districts across the country are increasingly violating parents’ rights by leaving them out of key decisions about their own children. More and more, school districts are adopting policies that require school staff to treat children as the opposite sex—in many cases, without parental consent or even notice. But the Constitution protects parents’ fundamental right to make decisions about how to care for their children and the right to access information necessary to make such decisions,” he said.

Wagner referenced a recent case in Wisconsin where a mother successfully sued her daughter’s school district for treating her as a boy without parental consent.

“In this case, we have filed a brief for her urging the 6th Circuit to protect the rights of the parents here to the information they need to make good decisions for their children.” Wagner said.

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