Foundation Files Brief with Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Critical Parental Rights Case

On Tuesday, we submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in a critical parental rights case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia. This powerful federal court is just one step below the U.S. Supreme Court, so this critical case could determine the future of parental rights in our nation. The case, Littlejohn v. School Board of Leon County, Florida, et al, deals with whether a public school can lie to the parents of a 13-year-old girl. 

This brief follows one we filed earlier this year in a similar parental rights case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, Massachusetts. That case, Foote, et al v. Ludlow, et al, remains pending, and as it progresses, we will let you know about key updates.

In Littlejohn v. School Board of Leon County, Florida, et al, a mom and dad are suing their local public school in Leon County, Florida, after finding out that the public school was encouraging their then-13 year-year-old daughter to lie to them, deceive them about her gender identity, and change her name and gender only when in public school. 

Our brief is in support of the parents and their lawsuit. We made it clear to the Eleventh Circuit that this is not really a case about the gender identity of a 13-year-old; this case is about whether a public school can tell a young student to keep secrets from her parents about something as basic as her name or gender identity. This case is about whether parents have the most basic right imaginable: the right to know what is going on with their daughter when she is in public school. 

Notably, unlike our brief to the First Circuit, we were unable to obtain consent from the attorneys representing the school to file our brief. Normally, and as a professional courtesy, both parties, plaintiffs and defendants, routinely give consent to organizations like Parental Rights Foundation and others to submit friend of the court briefs. We readily obtained consent from the attorneys for the parents, but— and we don’t want to speculate why— were unable to obtain consent from the school. This did not deter us – we simply filed a motion with the Eleventh Circuit telling the Court what was going on, and respectfully requesting the Eleventh Circuit to grant us permission to file our amicus curiae brief. You can read that motion here.

Our brief did two things: we went back to the beginning and explained to the Eleventh Circuit the history of parental rights, showing that this “inalienable right” predates our Constitution and even government itself. Then we went through almost 100 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, concluding that “parental rights are fundamental.” 

Then we used the Eleventh Circuit’s own precedent in parental rights cases to show how the parents should easily win this lawsuit.

We encourage you to read our brief for yourself. While “amicus curiae brief” may sound like undecipherable lawyer-speak, ours is a simple argument. We wrote this brief to show the Eleventh Circuit that this is a simple case: public schools cannot lie to parents and tell a thirteen-year-old student to also lie to her parents. We wrote this brief to help not just the Eleventh Circuit, but more importantly to help moms, dads, grandparents, and policymakers around the nation see that parental rights are truly the foundation of our communities, our public schools, and yes, our nation. 

We want to express our sincere thanks to Professor William Wagner, a member of the Board of Directors of Parental Rights Foundation, for his assistance in drafting this brief and our motion. We also want to express our sincere thanks to our legal intern, Sarah McAndrew of Liberty University School of Law, for her assistance in the drafting of this brief. 

This is now the fifth amicus curiae brief we have drafted in the past few years to help courts understand the importance of parental rights as a fundamental right. We are building this body of research to help courts across our nation respect and protect parental rights, while we continue to build support for our ultimate goal: passage of the Parental Rights Amendment to the US Constitution to enshrine once and for all parental rights as fundamental in the text of the Constitution.