Dems Should Support Parents

As a rule, I’m no fan of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. But they’re right about a couple of things.

Founded a decade ago with a big gift from the conservative Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, WILL is pretty much just a front for the Republican Party. They’ve shilled for the party most notably — and most regretfully — on gerrymandering. Right now they’re fighting to get the ultimate remapping decision made by the State Supreme Court simply because that court has a conservative majority and would likely favor the heavily gerrymandered maps drawn by Republicans.

But WILL has stood up for some principles with which I agree. They objected to provisions in the American Rescue Plan that provided debt forgiveness to farmers based on race and help for bars and restaurants based on race and gender. These laws were so clearly discriminatory and so obviously unconstitutional that WILL quickly won injunctions.

Now they’re taking on another fight that I find hard to oppose. WILL is suing the Kettle Moraine School District over its policy to ignore the decisions of parents with regard to how to treat their minor children who want to change their gender identity.

In this case the plaintiff-parents’ daughter told her teachers that she wanted to be known by a male name and to be referred to by male pronouns. The district complied with her request, even though her parents had sought professional intervention for their daughter and had requested that the district continue to refer to her by the name they gave her. Eventually, their daughter changed her mind and decided to remain identified as a girl.

Whatever you think of the transgender movement (and I’m generally supportive), it seems clear to me that the school district was just dead wrong in this case. Parents have a right to know when their child is doing something so emotionally and psychologically significant as changing their very identity. And when parents ask the school to proceed in a certain manner the school should comply. Simple as that.

This is dangerous ground for liberals and Democrats. As the Virginia governor’s race demonstrated just a few weeks ago, schools are becoming a major campaign issue even beyond the local level. Along these lines, I don’t discount the notion that WILL is pursuing this case, in part, to fan the flames of a potent issue for Republicans, but that doesn’t make their underlying position any less correct.

Even liberal parents are getting concerned about what’s going on at their kids’ schools. Three San Francisco school board members are facing recalls in that famously liberal town and the recalls are supported by the city’s liberal mayor.

It just makes sense that parents want to know that their children are going to be in a physically safe and orderly environment, that they will not be taught radical theories as fact before they are mature enough to question them, and that schools will keep parents informed if their child is undergoing some major upheaval, whether that’s depression, bullying or questioning their gender identity. Do Democrats really want to line up on the other side of those positions?

WILL is wrong about most things, but they’re right in this case. Democrats would be smart to make strong, clear statements in favor of parental rights.

Welcome to the 285th day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!

Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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