Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Maryland School District Gender Identity Case

By: Beth Moreton | Published: May 26, 2024

Many schools across the US have been trying to find ways to ensure that all of the children attending their school feel safe and fully supported. One of these ways is to protect their gender identity.

However, when a school district in Maryland decided to implement this policy, some parents were in uproar and took the issue to the Supreme Court, where it was promptly thrown out.

The Supreme Court Refused to Hear the Case

When a Christian legal group took action against a school in Maryland regarding the school’s policy on gender identity, the Supreme Court didn’t want to know and promptly threw the case out.

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An appeal had been made by three parents whose children go to three different schools in the Montgomery school district, which was also thrown out, as the parents had been told they lacked any legal standing to challenge this policy.

The School’s Policy on Gender Identity

The school district’s policy on gender identity is that if a child identifies as transgender or as gender-nonconforming, the school will respect their wishes and won’t inform the parents of this without seeking the child’s permission first.

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This caused outrage among some of the school district’s parents, who claim they have the right to know everything about their child and that they should have the final say on how their child identifies.

Gender Identity Issues in the US

The issue of gender identity has been a longstanding one over the last few years across the US and isn’t just specific to the Maryland school district.

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Gender identity is part of a culture war in the US, with many parents taking schools and their districts to court over the issue. This has mostly been done by conservative parenting groups.

Parental Rights and the 14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states that parents have the right to direct the care of their children and that their parental interests in their children are important.

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However, the 14th Amendment also states that protecting the welfare of children is important and must be considered when making decisions that will affect them.

Schools Want Children to Be Comfortable

Regardless of whether a child identifies as their birth gender, transgender, or as gender non-conforming, schools want children to feel comfortable and able to express themselves in their own way, which is why the gender identity policies were introduced.

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The plan also means that those working in schools will help children who identify as transgender or as gender non-conforming to come up with a plan that includes their pronouns, names, and the bathrooms they can use.


Why the Case Was Thrown Out of Court

Some groups are confused as to why a case like this would be thrown out of court, especially as they have a right as parents to provide care for their child, which includes gender identity.

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However, the court pointed out that in the parents’ case, they hadn’t outlined whether their children identify as transgender or as gender non-conforming. As they hadn’t specified this, it could be the case that the children and parents weren’t affected by this policy as they didn’t need to use it. So, the parents were just filing the case simply because they disagreed with it.


Federal Courts and Judges Aren’t Doing Their Job

Gene Hamilton, who is the executive director of American First Legal, filed an amicus brief in the case and claims that federal judges are failing in cases that question standing.

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He believes that federal judges are hiding behind false understandings of standing and that unless something changes, more cases will be thrown out of court that shouldn’t be.


The Supreme Court Is Throwing Out Cases

This isn’t the first gender identity case that has been thrown out of the Supreme Court. They’ve also thrown out other cases regarding gender identity and transgender issues.

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As a result of this, it means the lower court rulings stand in these cases, which are often on the side of transgender and gender non-conforming people – something many are unhappy with.


The Transgender Students and Bathrooms Case

One of the cases that was thrown out by the Supreme Court was another appeal from a Virginia school district regarding transgender students’ right to use the bathroom that reflects their gender identity.

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As this case was thrown out, it meant that the decision made by the lower court was final. This ruling was that transgender students were able to use the bathroom that reflects their gender identity.


The Lower Court's Thoughts on the Case

In terms of the Maryland school district gender identity case, the lower court judge was Paul Grimm, who made his thoughts on the case clear when giving his verdict on what the outcome of the case would be.

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After looking at the school district’s guidelines, he said that there is a fair balance in the interest of the parents and students, as it allows parents to be informed with the student’s consent. But also, it keeps the student safe from harm if they believe their parents will react badly to this information.


An Issue for the Ballot Box

While gender identity is a prevalent issue in society right now, some believe that instead of parents taking these issues to court, they should save them for the ballot box instead.

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Especially if those parents aren’t directly affected by the policy and, therefore, have no legal standing in a court case, some believe they will have more standing if they take these issues to a vote instead.