Federal appeals court blocks Linn-Mar gender policy

The court of appeals ruled students and teachers at Linn-Mar Community Schools don't have to use a student's pronouns.
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 5:10 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - On Friday, the 8th Circut Court of Appeals blocked a provision that requires students and staff to use a person’s preferred pronouns and respect a gender identity or face discipline.

Linn-Mar passed a policy in April 2022 that would allow students to create a gender support plan that, among other things, requires staff and students to address a child by a new name or gender identity pronouns, change the child’s name on government documents, use the restroom and locker room matching the child’s gender identity, and participate in sports programs that match their gender identity.

A parental advocacy group filed a federal lawsuit in response, claiming the policy violates the rights of students who hold beliefs about biological sex by forcing them to affirm the beliefs of administrators and fellow students.

In May 2023, Iowa Republicans passed SF 496 which made most of the Linn-Mar Policy moot, as it requires schools to alert parents if their child wants to use a new name or new pronouns, requires students to choose the bathroom of their birth gender, and requires schools to remove any literature that includes “descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act.”

Linn-Mar Community School District then approved a set of new policies in August 2023, regarding transgender students in order to comply with the new state law.

On Friday, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the parental advocacy group lawsuit, blocking a remaining provision that would require students and staff to use a person’s preferred pronouns, saying that it “violates the First Amendment rights to free speech of students who do not support or agree with a gender identity change.”

The President of ‘Parents Defending Education’, Nicole Neily, released the following statement praising the decision:

“We are gratified that the 8th Circuit upheld the rights of families and students in Linn-Mar. It is never acceptable to prohibit speech with vague terms that allow arbitrary enforcement, especially when compelled student speech is at stake, and this sends a clear message to other districts across the country with similar bullying and harassment policies on the books. The Eighth Circuit also made clear that Linn-Mar’s parental exclusion policies are now unlawful throughout the State of Iowa. Yet these policies remain on the books in far too many districts across the country. Parental exclusion policies are a loser in the court of public opinion – and I have no doubt that they will eventually be struck down in the court of law as well.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence also released a statement:

“Today, we applaud the Eighth Circuit’s decision, which is an important step in the fight to uphold and protect the rights of parents and families in Linn-Mar. A family is the single best unit to protect children, and we must continue to do everything we can to empower parents over bureaucrats. The strength of our nation is tied to the strength of our families, and we will not stand idly by as the Radical Left attempts to indoctrinate our children behind parents’ backs.”