In 2017 the school board in Williamston did the right thing by enacting policies that support the rights of LGBT students to be free from discrimination and bullying. A right-wing group representing a few parents then sued the school district, claiming that the LGBTQ-inclusive policies violate the religious liberty of Christian families who don’t want their children to be exposed to “alternative sexual lifestyles.”
In 2018 the ACLU filed a motion to intervene in the case on behalf of Stand With Trans, an organization that provides support to transgender youth and their families, and the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) student group at Williamston High School. We also argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed, as LGBTQ students will be at risk of discrimination if school districts are not permitted to have LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination policies. In July 2019 the court granted our motion to intervene on behalf of the GSA.
In October 2020 Judge Hala Jarbou dismissed the parents’ complaint for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The plaintiffs did not appeal.
(Reynolds v. Talberg; ACLU of Michigan Attorneys Jay Kaplan and Dan Korobkin; National ACLU Attorneys Shayna Medley-Warsoff and John Knight; Cooperating Attorneys Deborah Kovsky-Apap and Matthew Lund of Pepper Hamilton.)