From The Director's Desk

CT Attorney General Takes Position Against Parental Rights When it Comes to Gender Dysphoria in Schools



Christopher Healy, Executive Director

July 21, 2023

   Connecticut Attorney General William Tong’s decision to side with educational bureaucrats over the rights of parents and children is another disturbing attack on personal freedom and moral clarity.

   This month, Attorney General Tong joined 16 Democrat Attorney Generals in an amicus brief (friend of the court) in a Massachusetts court case about the rights of parents to be informed by a school system when their child expresses gender confusion, instead of intentionally hiding the information from the parents and beginning to affirm their child's new sexual identity. Tong wrote in opposition to parental rights.

   In an ironic way, Tong’s stance in Massachusetts on the rights of parents to be consulted and engaged in the mental health of their children at a critical time, sheds light on Connecticut, where similar guidance has been offered since 2017 by the Connecticut Department of Education.Tong.jpg 

   State Department of Education policy guidance is almost always adopted by local school districts, either administratively or through formal action by the board of education. It was reported last year in the CT Mirror that over 40 districts have embraced the same policies now being challenged in Massachusetts.

   The Connecticut DOE guidance forbids school personnel from informing parents about the desires of students to choose their gender or pronouns. Under the policy, which was adopted under an Executive Order directed by then Gov. Dannel Malloy, never received a public hearing or review by the state legislature.

   In his shocking statement, Tong believes teachers - and not parents, have preeminent rights over those of fathers and mothers in an area of acute mental health need.  Public school teachers have many responsibilities, and it is unfair to place this important responsibility on them.  More importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court has already weighed in regarding the rights and responsibilities of parents in the upbringing of their children and its opinion in Traxel is on point:  “The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition. ” Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).  Teachers and administrators should not keep secrets about students’ health from their parents, especially when such students have an increased risk of suicide and bullying.    

   In Massachusetts, parents of two children in Ludlow, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against the school committee which adopted an even more extreme policy based on Massachusetts state guidelines.  The parents appealed the trial court’s decision where the judge even admitted the policy was flawed.  Massachusetts also argues that local parents cannot challenge their own local elected school board to change policies that are voluntary in nature. Guidelines are not state mandates, meaning the school board voluntarily adopted them.

   Given his actions in the Massachusetts lawsuit, would Attorney General Tong take similar actions against any similar challenge from parents who oppose local school board policy that places a wall between parents and children in an area that requires openness and transparency?

   The legislature should initiate a formal review of the 2017 Guidance on Civil Protections and Supports for Transgender Students and how it is being implemented across the state, while asking the hard questions about the rights of children and parents.