The Rock Springs parents asking a federal court to block their school district from referring to their daughter by a male name and pronouns behind their backs claim they’ve found a secret cellphone belonging to the student, which they say shows that the district is still treating the girl as a transgender boy.
Ashley Willey filed a declaration Monday in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming saying she found a cellphone May 1 “that had been given to (the student) by others without either my or my husband Sean Willey’s knowledge.”
By sifting through the cellphone and talking with her daughter, Willey says she learned that at least three teachers at Black Butte High School in Rock Springs are still referring to the girl by a male name and pronouns, against the parents’ wishes.
The couple sued Sweetwater County School District No. 1 on April 25, and asked the U.S. District Court for Wyoming to block the district’s procedure of helping to socially transition its transgender students, sometimes without the knowledge or consent of parents.
The Willeys’ Monday filing counters statements by Sweetwater County School District No. 1, which in a May 15 court filing said the district is no longer referring to the girl with transgender labels.
The school district asked the U.S. District Court for Wyoming at that time not to interfere with its procedures or treatment of students. It equated the use of transgender names and pronouns to nickname usage, and said it risks losing Title IX funding if it won’t label transgender students according to their wishes.
The Willeys asked the court again Monday to block the school district from socially transitioning their daughter without their knowledge or consent, saying they find the move harmful, and so does their daughter’s out-of-school counselor, whom they’ve hired to treat her trauma and mental health issues.
This lawsuit is getting heated.
The district is accusing the Willeys of conjuring contrived harms and using the court as a “cudgel” to enforce Ashley Willey’s “personal preferences.”
In turn, the Willeys are accusing the district of flippantly dismissing their serious constitutional concerns.
“Instead of offering substantive legal arguments (the school district) relies on casting aspersions and demeaning Plaintiffs in a feckless attempt to undermine their credibility,” reads the Willeys’ Monday filing.
The Willeys also took a swing at district Human Resources Director Nicole Bolton, who filed an affidavit May 15 saying that, “The District refers to (the girl) by her legal name” now that the girl, herself, has requested it.
“Mrs. Bolton’s statements are blatantly false, which establishes … the need for a preliminary injunction” blocking the school’s actions, the Willeys allege.
Bolton had told the court that, “No student who has ever been taught by Ms. Willey has ever requested to use anything other than their legal name based on gender identity.”
Bolton’s statement took aim at Ashley Willey’s claim that the district is violating her right to religion and free expression, by making her use transgender names and pronouns without parents’ knowledge. Willey teaches at a middle school in the district.
The Willeys deride Bolton’s statements as “astounding presumption.”
“Mrs. Bolton’s omniscience apparently carries over to every conversation Mrs. Willey has had or ever will have with students or their parents,” reads the Willeys’ filing.
“More importantly, (Bolton’s) assertions are irrelevant,” the Willeys added, saying Ashley Willey is asking the court to uphold her free-expression right in the future, not in the past.
Bolton did not immediately comment Tuesday morning.
This Legal Landscape
In trying to prove its point to the court, that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the federal Title IX civil rights law require schools to accommodate transgender students’ gender identities, the district invoked the 11th Circuit case Adams vs. School Board.
But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in late December that the Adams case says the opposite: that separating bathrooms by sex doesn’t violate the Fourteenth Amendment or Title IX.
President Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture both interpret the federal Title IX law as requiring schools to accommodate the wishes of transgender students. This interpretation is now blocked from enforcement in 20 states.
The Willeys say Biden’s interpretation is invalid, as executive orders cannot redefine federal law.
“Executive orders only enjoy the force of law based on existing statutory powers,” reads the filing. “The subject executive orders cannot reinterpret Title IX.”
Because, The Supreme Court
Biden’s agencies base their Title IX interpretation on U.S. Supreme Court case Bostock vs. Clayton County.
In this case the high court ruled that employers commit sex-based discrimination under the federal Title VII if they fire people for being gay or transgender.
The justices’ majority ruling says they did not intend for Bostock to affect bathrooms, locker rooms and dress codes.
“None of these other laws are before us; we have not had the benefit of adversarial testing about the meaning of their terms, and we do not prejudge any such question today,” reads the majority opinion, quoted in the Willeys’ filing. “Under Title VII, too, we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.”
The Willeys’ case is ongoing.
Contact Clair McFarland at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com