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Monday, January 30, 2023

Ohio school asks court dismiss anti-LGBTQ+ lawsuit based on ‘innuendo’

HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — Hilliard City Schools officials are requesting a federal court dismiss a lawsuit by eight parents suing the district for LGBTQ-inclusion efforts.

The district is arguing the parent’s lawsuit “consists of thread-bare assertions, innuendo, rumor, and spurious legal conclusions,” according to the motion filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio. Monday’s filing states the plaintiffs “have not alleged an actual case or controversy that would invoke the jurisdiction of the federal courts.”

In the complaint filed Jan. 16, the parents claim school officials are allowing “activist teachers” to hold conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity without parental consent. The complaint said teachers are taking specific actions to hide these conversations, calling the situation “a recipe for indoctrination and child abuse.”

A spokesperson for Hilliard City Schools said the district did not have any further comments when NBC4 requested a statement.

‘Fear of future action’

The motion said the parent’s lawsuit is “riddled with careless mistakes,” including neglecting law requiring a suit against the board of education in order to sue a school district. The motion also argues the parents lack standing to bring claims in the suit because they have not been harmed.

“Plaintiffs have not sued an entity capable of being sued,” the district states. “It is clearly established under the law that, in order to sue a school district, one must do so by suing the board of education.”

Still, the parents are requesting the court issue an order prohibiting teachers from facilitating conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity. The filing also demands the district inform a parent when their student chooses different pronouns or says they are experiencing gender dysphoria, a feeling one’s gender identity doesn’t match their sex assigned at birth.

“The district apparently believes that, when a child exhibits symptoms of gender dysphoria at school, the district is required to affirmatively act to hide that information,” the parents claim.

The district’s motion notes the plaintiffs are not asking for damages as part of the suit because the parents “do not allege injury to any of their children.” Instead, the parents “claim fear of future action, alleging that the district’s teachers are ‘activists’ encouraged to have ‘sexual conversations’ with children, making their children ‘vulnerable to abuse.’”

LGBTQ-inclusive badges

In their complaint, the parents also argue against teachers wearing LGBTQ-supportive badges that read “I’m Here” with a Pride flag design on the front. Teachers were given permission to continue wearing the badges in September after some parents expressed concern over a code on the back that could lead to websites inappropriate for children.

“The badge, and the QR code on it, was specifically intended for display toward students, and was exposed to students,” the parent’s filing states.

However, school officials said they discussed the possibility of students accessing inappropriate material, and ordered the codes be covered so they would not be visible. The district said it is not aware of any student accessing the QR code or materials and noted the parents “do not claim that their children ever viewed that content.”

The parent’s lawsuit follows a resolution passed by the Ohio Board of Education rejecting the proposed federal protections for LGBTQ+ students. In addition, the suit came after a legal challenge against Dayton-area Bethel Local School District, alleging school officials violated the religious liberty of 18 anonymous parents and students when a 14-year-old transgender student was permitted to use the girls’ restrooms.

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