MMSD should disregard hate-based letter from Christian group, FFRF urges

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is expressing its support for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s commitment to equality and inclusion in the face of a hate-based letter from an infamous Christian law firm.

Madison Schools received a letter on May 24 from the Liberty Counsel, a notorious Christian law firm, objecting to an elementary school teacher showing students a video and reading a book in order to explain to students that the teacher is transgender and asks to be referred to by the gender-neutral “Mx.” rather than “Mr.” or “Ms.”

Liberty Counsel’s letter repeatedly and intentionally misgendered the teacher and suggested that teaching students how to be inclusive, accepting and understanding of LGBTQ individuals is not “age-appropriate, medically accurate” and is “stigmatizing.” The letter stated that the teacher has no legal authority to “manipulate” students by asking to be addressed by the proper pronouns and title.

FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne wrote to the district expressing FFRF’s support of the district and this teacher and pointing out Liberty Counsel’s history of opposing LGBTQ civil rights protections and besmirching LGBTQ people at every possible turn. The group famously defended Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue licenses for legal same-sex marriages, and persistently backed a public school’s anti-trans bathroom policy, using it as an opportunity to relentlessly misgender and publicly invite shame on a young trans boy.

“Liberty Counsel is a notorious hate group that operates under the guise of protecting religious freedom,” Jayne writes to Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. “In Liberty Counsel’s twisted worldview, religious liberty is at risk any time the government considers accommodating LGBTQ people.”

FFRF applauds the district for its commitment to promoting inclusivity and raising awareness around LGBTQ issues and urges the district to disregard Liberty Counsel’s baseless assertions that this is unconstitutional. In fact, public schools are exactly the place where students should learn how to identify and reject divisive, hate-based bigotry.

“Once again, Liberty Counsel and its base of conservative Christian supporters make themselves out to be victims of an expanded idea of equality and inclusion,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Liberty Counsel has no place imposing its theocratic values on our secular public schools.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a Madison-based national nonprofit organization with more than 31,000 members across the country, including over 1,400 members in Wisconsin. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

FFRF privacy statement