MADISON, Wis. — On Thursday, January 11, legislative Republicans further advanced a bill that seeks to censor what Wisconsin students can learn and talk about at school – specifically targeting topics that impact the LGBTQ+ community and people of color.
Assembly Bill 510 encourages parents to take legal action against teachers and schools for simply doing their jobs and, according to media reports and records obtained by A Better Wisconsin Together, the extremist right-wing law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) – which frequently represents parents in lawsuits against public schools and has a long-established history of weaponizing attacks on LGBTQ+ youth and educators – was intimately involved in writing and advancing the bill.
Recent WILL legal action against public schools and LGBTQ+ youth includes:
- Filing a 2020 state court lawsuit targeting policies at Madison Metropolitan School District that support transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive students;
- Working with a designated anti-LGBTQ+ hate group in a 2021 state court lawsuit against Kettle Moraine School District;
- Stoking anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry that resulted in bomb threats at Kiel Area School District.
WILL’s brazen involvement with Assembly Bill 510 includes writing bill language, strategizing on possible bill co-sponsors, coordinating people to testify on the bill, and giving legal advice and answers to the legislators that introduced the bill. Additionally, committee action on the bill was scheduled to accommodate WILL’s availability. Over the course of nearly one year, WILL directed numerous additions and revisions to the bill’s statutory language, according to emails obtained by A Better Wisconsin Together.
“It is clear that the ultra-conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is an extremism grifter, continuously attacking public schools, teachers, and LGBTQ+ youth,” Lucy Ripp, communications director at A Better Wisconsin Together, said in a statement to the media. “That they would work to change state law in order to profiteer off of it and create more division among parents, students, and educators for their own personal benefit is both unseemly and appalling.”
In addition to benefiting from suing school districts and educators in actions similar to what Assembly Bill 510 encourages, WILL also fundraises directly off of its education-related litigation.
“There’s no hiding it,” Ripp said. “Assembly Bill 510 is a shameless scheme from WILL to orchestrate changes to state law that will benefit them, by making it easier for them to push litigation against public school educators and continue their partisan and extreme anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.”