High court says parents cannot be anonymous; declines to rule on policy

Madison, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed down a ruling on a case filed by a number of parents whose children attend schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). The case challenges the constitutionality of the MMSD’s policy that keeps parents in the dark about how their children are presenting at school relative to their gender identity. The parents were filing anonymously.

The court, on a 4-3 vote, ruled that the parents cannot remain anonymous, taking a pass on ruling on the policy itself. Instead, the majority sent the case back to the trial court. Brian Hagedorn joined with the liberal contingency of Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Jill Karofsky, and Rebecca Dallet. Justice Patience Roggensack wrote a dissent joined by Chief Justice Ziegler and Justice Rebecca Grassley Bradley.

Wisconsin Family Action was part of a friend-of-the-court brief that was filed in support of the parents.

Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, commented, “We are definitely disappointed that these parents who have already shown a great deal of courage will not be allowed to remain anonymous as this case continues through the judicial process. The majority justices seem to believe that the identity of these parents can be protected if their names are disclosed to the defendants’ and their attorneys. Experience tells us that’s a pretty hollow promise.

“We also are personally and keenly aware that people and organizations who hold beliefs and values that are unpopular with some segments of society are very susceptible to retribution. In fact, in her dissent, Justice Roggensack mentions the firebombing of our office on Mother’s Day as an example of how identified individuals can become the target of attacks. These parents and their children deserve protection.

“We are grateful for Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and their attorney Luke Berg who is handling this case on behalf of the parents. WILL has stated publicly that they will check with the parents to see if they are willing to proceed with the case given the court’s ruling and, importantly, that because the court did not rule on the policy itself, they will continue to aggressively and skillfully defend the rights of parents and the protection of children in MMSD.  We are very encouraged that the three dissenting justices clearly indicated they think the MMSD policy unconstitutionally violates parents’ rights. We are optimistic that ultimately the rights of these parents will be upheld and children protected from these dangerous school policies.”


Wisconsin Family Action is a statewide organization engaged in strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life, and religious freedom in Wisconsin.

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