Parents Defending Educ. v. Olentangy Local Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ.

October 26, 2023

Summary of facts: An Ohio school district issued a policy under which students are punished if they do not use other students’ “preferred pronouns.” A group of parents and students sued in federal district court, arguing that the policy violates the students’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and parents’ Fourteenth Amendment right to direct the upbringing of their children. The court held that the policy did not violate the Constitution. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

RFI position: For students who belong to minority religions such as Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism who hold that sex is binary and immutable, the school district’s policy burdens their religion because it forces them to choose between obeying their conscience and affirming the government’s ideological position. The policy will also have a disproportionate impact on families of minority religions because they tend to face the most pressure to conform to the values endorsed by school officials, and they often lack alternatives to public education. The court of appeals should reverse the district court decision.

Read the amicus brief here.