The Parental Rights Foundation Goes to Court

On Wednesday, September 13, attorneys for the Massachusetts Family Institute and the Child and Parental Rights Campaign (CPRC) presented oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in the case of Foote v. Ludlow School Committee. Your Parental Rights Foundation went with them by way of an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief we filed in the case.

At question in Foote v. Ludlow is whether a public school can withhold information from parents—or even actively deceive them—while secretly assisting their children in gender transitioning at school. 

While others are more qualified than we to weigh in on the risks or benefits to a child’s physical or mental well-being if the schools should choose to enable gender transitioning, our brief highlights our area of expertise: the traditionally respected role of a parent in directing the upbringing, education, and care of their minor children.

Since public schools are run by the government, they are bound by the restrictions of the Constitution. Keeping secrets from parents about their child’s mental and social health undermines the constitutionally protected fundamental liberty interest, long recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, that parents have in their children’s care.

Our brief, which you can read here, lays out the history of the Court’s recognition of these fundamental parental rights. Then we point out the obvious: parents cannot exercise these constitutionally protected rights if government agents (such as public-school teachers or administrators) are allowed to keep major secrets from parents about the children in their charge.

Mary McAllister is the CPRC lawyer who led the oral arguments for the parents. Asked for her thoughts on the day, she responded:

“We are very encouraged by the oral argument on September 13th at the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The panel was very engaged and well informed about the case. They understood our arguments and seemed to understand the importance of parents not being left in the dark about their children’s gender identity.  As was true of the district court, the Court of Appeals was troubled by the school district’s strict non-disclosure policy for parents. We look forward to the court’s ruling.” (emphasis added)

This is the first of two similar cases for which we filed amicus briefs, the other being January Littlejohn, et al, v. School Board of Leon County, Florida. In that brief, too, we focus on the unwavering tradition of parental rights in our country and apply it to the unconscionable practice of keeping secrets from parents about the health of their minor children. 

Like attorney McAllister, I am looking forward to the First Circuit’s ruling. If they agree with our brief and apply traditional parental rights to this issue, it will mean a huge win for families in New England. And if they choose to disagree, their decision may open a pathway for us to take the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court. That is especially true if the Littlejohn case, which is in a different Circuit Court, results in a different outcome than Foote.

Yesterday’s oral arguments went well, but we won’t know the result for weeks as the court deliberates and writes its decision.

Another CPRC attorney, Joel Thornton, summed it up nicely: “We were very pleased. Now, we wait.”

Thank you for standing with us as we present parental rights to some of the highest courts in the land in an effort to keep parents in the driver’s seat for their children! Your investment makes our voice in these cases possible.