Frederick Short Jr, a father in New Jersey, is suing the state over a policy that prevents schools from disclosing a student’s transgender status to their parents. Short argues that the policy violates his constitutional right to raise his children and make decisions about their mental health care. The policy, issued by the Education Department, instructs schools not to notify parents of their child’s gender identification and to keep separate files with different names for transgender students, only notifying parents when legally necessary or in cases involving bullying.
New Jersey Father Sues to Overturn Transgender Student Policy
A New Jersey parent initiated a federal lawsuit against a policy protecting transgender students’ privacy in schools. The policy, which seeks to prevent schools from exposing transgender students to their parents, was challenged by Frederick Short Jr., a father of three students at Cherry Hill High School.
Filed on October 12 in U.S. District court, Short’s lawsuit argues the policy infringes his Constitutional right for parenting and making decisions regarding his children’s mental health care. As of now, both the state attorney general’s office and the Education Department have refrained from commenting on the case. Cherry Hill school officials have yet to respond as well.
This lawsuit puts into question the guidance issued by the Education Department. The current guidance does not require school staff to inform parents about their child’s gender identity. Short’s lawsuit criticizes these policies, highlighting they promote secrecy and lead to “double-lives” which are detrimental for youth’s mental health.
The existing guidance also instructs schools to maintain separate files for transgender students under different names. They should only inform parents under certain legal circumstances or in cases related to bullying incidents.
In response to this guidance, five districts have withdrawn their policies, while four have enforced policies necessitating parental notification. These latter districts faced lawsuits from the attorney general’s office, preventing their policies from being implemented.