On Friday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Iowa school district’s policy forcing students to “respect” their class-mates’ so-called “gender identity” or risk discipline was a violation of the First Amendment.
In 2022, Parents Defend Education sued Linn-Mar School District on behalf of a group of unnamed parents over its aforementioned policy, arguing that the rules were opaque and constituted compelled speech.
The Eighth Circuit agreed with PDE and remanded the case with instruction to block enforcement of the school district’s handbook on the matter.
“We are gratified that the Eighth Circuit upheld the rights of families and students in Linn-Mar,” PDE said in a statement sent to The Daily Wire.
“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.”
Some of the parents in the case argued that Linn-Mar’s policies would block the “open exchange of ideas” by “chilling speech” such as the idea that “biological sex is immutable” or that “that a biological male who identifies as female should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports,” The Des Moines Register noted. Voicing opinions that could run contrary to radical gender idoelogy could have resulted in students being punished.
The judges agreed with those arguments and ruled, “The policy broadly prohibits a refusal to ‘respect a student’s gender identity.’
The policy does not define ‘respect,’ and the expression of opinions like those held by parent G’s child arguably would violate the policy,” the decision said.
When PDE first sued Linn-Mar, Iowa had yet to pass a law banning school districts from ignoring or excluding parents’ say as it relates to their children’s preferred pronouns and gender identity.
Linn-Mar had previously created a policy stating that schools must prioritize the wishes of students over their parents. Since then, Iowa has banned such practices. The court noted that such a policy is illegal in Iowa.
“The Eighth Circuit also made clear that Linn-Mar’s parental exclusion policies are now unlawful throughout the State of Iowa,” PDE added. 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.”