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John and Jane Parents 1 v. Montgomery County Board of Education: Parents Challenge School Support Plans for Trans Students
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John and Jane Parents 1 v. Montgomery County Board of Education: Parents Challenge School Support Plans for Trans Students

On May 20, 2024, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Maryland parents’ petition that challenged school support plans for trans and nonbinary students.
John and Jane Parents 1 v. Montgomery County Board of Education: Parents Challenge School Support Plans for Trans Students
Ted Eytan

On May 20, 2024, the Supreme Court of the United States denied a Maryland parents’ petition that challenged school support plans for trans and nonbinary students. Montgomery County guidelines support students transitioning at school without the consent or consultation of parents. These guidelines include support in students’ changing of names and/or pronouns, and allowing transgender and nonbinary students to be true to their gender identities at school. 

Three parents of students in Montgomery County claimed that these guidelines violated their federal constitutional rights as parents to make decisions about their children, as they are minors throughout most of their pre-college educational career. The parents formed a petition to remove school support plans for transgender and nonbinary students in the county. 

Although the petition was denied, the intentions of the parents left their impact on students within the county. B-CC senior Charlie Raibman shares that, “I think that the petition is very dangerous and would seriously harm kids.” He explains that while he legally transitioned prior to being in an MCPS school, providing support for transgender and non-binary students “can be lifesaving for kids.” An anonymous sophomore agreed, saying that “I know so many parents would kick their child out of their house if they learned their child was trans. Keeping this information private could be life or death for some of these kids.”

The petition is as much of a concern to parents of transgender and nonbinary students as it is for the students. Mary Raibman, Charlie’s mother, expresses that “as an MCPS parent, I was pleased when the [Board of Education] adopted guidelines that attempt to ensure that MoCo schools are able to support trans students and students dealing with issues of gender identity more broadly,” (in reference to the guidelines that parents petitioned against). “A student’s gender identity should not impact their ability to fully participate in school life.”

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This sentiment is shared among students who have used the school support guidelines for trans and nonbinary students. “Allowing me to change my pronouns and name in the school system without letting my parents know made me much happier to go to school,” said the sophomore. “I dreaded knowing my deadname would be called on attendance sheets, but I also wasn’t emotionally ready to share this part of my identity with my parents yet. Knowing the school system had a plan for this situation made me feel so supported and seen by the community, which is rare for me as a trans kid.” The ability for students to present themselves in the way they feel most comfortable is fundamental in fostering a positive educational and social experience in school. 

Mental health is also a large concern of trans and nonbinary students and their parents. “I believe that for students who don’t feel safe presenting as their true selves at home, being able to socially transition in a supportive environment can be vital to their mental and physical health,” shares Mrs. Raibman. “No harm is done to parents when a teacher acknowledges who a student really is, and uses their preferred name, but great harm may come to a student who isn’t able to be open about their gender identity.”

Mental health is a large struggle among those in the trans and nonbinary communities. According to findings from The Trevor Project, “45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year,” and “fewer than one in three transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender affirming.” 

With these statistics in mind, it is integral to the wellness of the student population to provide support in schools for trans and nonbinary students. This support is largely guided by admin in conjunction with other groups. Mrs. Sutton, an Assistant Principal at B-CC, shares her experience with the petition and working to make students of all identities feel safe in school. She says, “I serve as two roles in MCPS: I am an MCPS employee, and I am also an MPCS parent. I am a proud parent of a student who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.” Sutton emphasizes the importance of attempting to understand different perspectives in all situations. “I understand that there’s no guide book for parenting and we don’t always make the best choices for our kids—and in some cases the choices we make as parents do cause harm,” she says. 

Having experienced being both a member of admin at school and a parent of a child in MCPS, she feels that the policies in place involving in school support of trans and nonbinary students are important and should be enforced regardless of parent consent. If a student is not comfortable talking to their parents about this kind of thing there is a reason and it is not my place as an educator to violate that, and they deserve to feel safe in this building.” Feeling safe in school is something that everyone deserves, regardless of their identities and how they present themselves. “We all deserve to be in a safe space for all of our day. But within our control is what happens in these walls, and so if things are chaotic at home for any number of reasons, you deserve to have a place where you can. It should be everywhere. But it’s not,” says Sutton.

In order to provide this safe space for students, Admin is working in collaboration with the LGBTQ+ inclusivity cohort, B-CC’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and others on several projects including the incorporation of pronouns on rosters and sub-rosters, and listening to student feedback of what needs to be changed regarding in support programs in school for trans and nonbinary students. These projects are important, and must be supported and encouraged to maintain a safe environment for trans and nonbinary students at B-CC. 

Although the petition was ultimately denied by the SCOTUS, ignorance within the Montgomery County community persists, and school communities must work to educate themselves to dissipate the reinforcers of discrimination. “Knowing I have the support of my school behind me is a huge comfort, especially in the face of recent attacks on trans rights in other counties and states,” concluded the sophomore. In Montgomery County, schools should be a safe space for all students, regardless of their identities.

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About the Contributor
Swati Ernst
Swati Ernst, Staff Reporter
Swati Ernst is a Junior at B-CC who aspires to create change and amplify the voices of students and other community members through her writing. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar and listening to records with her cat.

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