Hilliard City Schools sued by group of parents over LGBTQ+ concerns


A. Kevin Corvo

The Hilliard City School District Central Office in Columbus

Kyle Creager, Staff Writer

The Hilliard City School district is facing a lawsuit from eight parents for alleged discussion of LGBTQ+ and sexual topics between students and teachers in classrooms. 

According to the official complaint “The Defendant Hilliard School District is allowing activist teachers – opposed to trained, supervised counselors-) to specifically solicit from children as young as six-years old, private, intimate conversations about sexual behaviors, sexual attitudes, mental and psychological questions of the student and the student’s family, and private religious practices.” The complaint cites other articles about children that have allegedly been “indoctrinated” or coerced into changing their gender identity by “predatory teachers”. 

The parents claim that the “I’m Here” badges worn by teachers to show support for LGBTQ+ students, contain sexually explicit content via a QR code on the back. The code on the back links to resources for teachers about how to help children who would like to discuss their identity.  

The parents first threatened the district with a lawsuit in September of 2022. The initial reason for the complaints were that teachers allowed students to request to go by a different name and different pronouns without notifying parents of their child’s preferences. The parents proposed an order in which the school must report any changes in their child’s preferred pronouns or gender identity as well as symptoms of gender-dysmorphia to the parents of the child.

The district is pushing back against the allegations and calling for a federal judge to drop the lawsuit. On January 18th, the superintendent of Hilliard City Schools, David Stewart, put out an official statement on the matter. Stewart wrote “Hilliard City Schools is committed to a transparent and vigorous defense against this lawsuit, which is notably filled with misstatements of fact and mischaracterizations. We look forward to filing our response with the court. In the meantime, the lawsuit makes certain accusations which have little to do with the legal arguments, but about which we believe it is important to set the record straight – with facts.” 

Stewart stated that there was no illegal action by the school district and doubted the validity of some of the claims made in the complaint. Stewart’s statement says  “The lawsuit calls for counselors, not teachers, to be called in when issues arise concerning a student’s medical or mental health. We agree. Indeed, the single example cited in the lawsuit involves a student exhibiting the need for mental health counseling who was taken to a professional social worker. The social worker then contacted and met with the student’s parents.”

In regards to the “I’m Here” badges worn by teachers, Stewart writes “the badges included a QR code for teachers that provided a link to websites with support resources. We learned that by clicking out from some of those support resources, it was possible to arrive at objectionable material inappropriate for students.” As of the time of the statement, all of the QR codes have been covered and the info is no longer accessible. 

Jonathan Alder faced similar concerns from some parents in April of 2021. During a school board meeting, several parents had complaints about books in the library that depicted LGBTQ+ themes and relationships. Some parents argued that allowing said books to be checked out by students is a form of “indoctrination.”

Jonathan Alder’s policy changed in October of 2022, stating that discussion of controversial topics with teachers must be approved by the principal and the curriculum coordinator. If parents don’t approve of certain lessons or activities, teachers must provide an alternative lesson or activity for the students of those parents. Materials provided by teachers that may cause concern, must pass through a list of criteria before it can be presented to a class. 

As of the time this article was written, Hilliard City Schools plans to fight the lawsuit in federal court and they are confident that the case will be dismissed by a judge.  

The full text of the lawsuit can be found here