Foote v. Ludlow School Commitee

March 31, 2023

Summary of facts: Public school officials in Ludlow, Massachusetts enacted a gender-identity policy that excludes parents from any knowledge or involvement in key decisions regarding their children’s care. They disregarded parents’ instructions to not discuss gender-identity issues with their children, and interfered with the parents’ decision-making through secret online discussions in which a counselor suggested that the children were not safe with their parents. Another staff member actively promoted children’s social transitioning. The parents of two children sued in federal court, alleging a violation of their constitutional rights (1) to direct the upbringing of their children; (2) to make medical and mental-health decisions for their children; and (3) familial privacy. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, concluding that school officials’ alleged actions did not rise to the level of a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

RFI’s position: The school district’s policy violates parents’ right under the Free Exercise Clause to direct their children’s education and their ability to impart their sincere religious beliefs without government interference. The policy substantially burdens the sincerely held religious beliefs of many different faith groups, including Orthodox Jewish Americans, Hindu Americans, and Muslim Americans and will disproportionately impact families from minority faith backgrounds.

Read the amicus brief here.