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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Lansing-area school district sued over gender identity policy

Judge's gavel

A federal lawsuit was filed last week against Williamston Community Schools and members of its school board over its policies to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Last November, the school board adopted policies for students on gender identity and amended another on equal educational opportunity.

The gender identity policy reads, in part:

"The Williamston Community Schools fosters an educational environment for all students that is safe, welcoming, and free from stigma and discrimination, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."

The plaintiffs are parents who claim that the policies promote "alternative sexual lifestyles," and seek to silence and punish their sincerely held Christian beliefs and those of their children. 

According to the complaint, "Plaintiffs sincerely believe the Bible's teaching on sexual orientation and gender reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Plaintiffs sincerely believe the Bible teaches that human beings were created male and female and that gender is neither fluid nor a social construct."

David Kallman is an attorney with the Great Lakes Justice Center who representing the plaintiffs.

Kallman said to simply disagree with the school district policies or "alternative sexual lifestyles" could be viewed as bullying or harassment.

"And so it squelches speech. It chills speech. And that is the problem," said Kallman.

Kallman also alleged that the school district's policies could allow transgender boys to use girls bathrooms and locker rooms.

The plaintiffs want the federal court to declare the policies unconstitutional and issue injunctions to prevent their implementation.

In a written statement, Williamston Community Schools said the policies do not infringe on any constitutional or statutory rights of students or their families and it will seek dismissal of the lawsuit.

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