Ohio School District Sued For ‘Preferred Pronoun’ Enforcement

Eric Scheiner | May 15, 2023
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Parents Defending Education (PDE) is suing Olentangy Local School District in Ohio for violating free speech rights by enforcing the use of “preferred pronouns.”  Under the policy students can face escalating punishments up to and including expulsion.

According to a press release from PDE:

OLSD’s policies and Student Code of Conduct include “transgender identity” as a protected group, requiring students to use other students’ “preferred” pronouns — which the District can enforce through wide-ranging forms of formal punishment (such as suspension and expulsion).

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PDE also notes:

“Olentangy’s ‘harassment’ policies show a deep contempt for the constitutional rights of its students and families,” said Parents Defending Education Vice President Caroline Moore. “Public schools cannot force students to speak in a way that supports a viewpoint contrary to their deeply held beliefs— nor may schools follow students home to police their speech at all hours of the day on their personal devices. But Olentangy has enacted a series of overbroad ‘Anti-Harassment’ policies under the guise of ‘inclusivity’ that flout basic constitutional rights both in and outside of the classroom.” 

PDE has asked the courts to declare that Olentangy’s “harassment” provisions violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as to enjoin the District from enforcing the “harassment” provisions, from punishing speech about gender identity or compelling speech to affirm another person’s gender identity, and from punishing students for speech occurring off school grounds that is not for or during a school-sponsored activity.

The lawsuit filed last week asks for a court injunction stopping the policies claiming, “Whether the policies are viewpoint- or content-based, the District has no adequate interest in suppressing this type of student speech, and, even if it did, the District’s restrictions are not sufficiently tailored to further that interest.”

The Olentangy Local School District has not yet officially responded to the lawsuit.

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