Brief Filed by EPPC Scholar Defends Parents’ Fundamental Rights

June 2, 2023

On May 30, 2023, EPPC scholar Eric Kniffin filed an amicus brief in Littlejohn v. School Board of Leon County, Florida. January and Jeffrey Littlejohn filed suit after they learned that their middle school daughter’s public school had secretly met with her to develop a “gender support plan” that let her choose what name, pronouns, and restrooms she would use, and with what sex she would be housed on overnight trips. The school even deliberately used female pronouns with the Littlejohns to conceal their actions from the girl’s parents. The trial court ruled against the Littlejohns because it found that the school district’s conduct did not “shock the conscience.”

The brief asks the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the district court’s decision, arguing that the school violated parents’ fundamental right “in the care, custody, and control of their child.” The brief notes that Florida law recognizes parents’ rights, requiring schools to seek parental consent before administering medication, teaching children about “reproductive health or any disease,” or even before giving children sunscreen.

Kniffin’s brief also tells the stories of nine members of Our Duty, a nonprofit that helps parents protect their children from the dangers of gender ideology. “These compelling stories illustrate the harm that can come from even well-meaning school officials excluding parents from important medical and mental health decisions. They show the heroic lengths parents have gone through to understand, love, and protect their children. These accounts also show that school officials can get diagnoses terribly wrong, ignoring critical mental health issues in favor of a trendy diagnosis that . . . could permanently sterilize and disfigure minor children.”

The brief argues:

[S]ocial transition is a treatment protocol for a medically diagnosed and documented condition. As such, a long line of Supreme Court cases makes plain that parents have the constitutional right to decide whether their minor child should undergo such a transition. . . . Florida law, consistent with parents’ constitutional rights, requires school districts to involve parents and seek their consent before making the most minor medical decisions. School officials cannot even unilaterally decide whether a student should apply sunscreen. It is impossible to reconcile this general deference to parents’ rights with the Defendants-Appellees’ claim, upheld below, that our constitutional order allows government officials to treat a middle school girl as though she were a boy, and even assign her a male roommate on overnight trips, without even informing the minor child’s parents.

The brief urges the Eleventh Circuit to affirm parents’ fundamental rights and hold the school district’s policy unconstitutional.

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