EPPC Amicus Brief Supports Parents’ Rights

September 13, 2023

On September 13, the Ethics and Public Policy Center filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of an appeal in Damiano v. Grants Pass School District No. 7. This case was brought by two Oregon educators who were suspended and then terminated by their school district after they started a grassroots movement, “I Resolve,” to speak out on the district’s policy of socially transitioning kids without parents’ notice or consent.

The brief, co-authored by EPPC fellows Eric Kniffin and Mary Rice Hasson, argues that the district court was wrong to find that the plaintiffs’ advocacy was “anti-Trans.” Drawing up the work of EPPC’s Person & Identity Project, the brief argues that the plaintiffs’ advocacy reflects the best social science on how to care for youth identifying as transgender; it is not, as the lower court claimed, “anti-Trans.” The brief also argues that the district’s policy violates parents’ constitutional rights and offers testimony from parents whose public schools had clandestinely pushed their children to socially transition:

Government may intrude on parents’ constitutional rights only under narrow and extreme circumstances. These conditions are obviously not met when a school official—without even meeting with a child’s parents—judges that parents “may be hostile to the student’s [gender] preference” or that informing parents would threaten the child’s “safety” or well-being.” . . . .

Plaintiffs-Appellants were not “fighting against the[ ] well-being” of “ultravulnerable” students. 2-ER-214. Their work with “I Resolve” is grounded in social science, confirmed by parents’ experiences, and entitled to First Amendment protection.

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