Media Contact

Sam Petto, ACLU of Nebraska, 402-476-8091,

February 13, 2024

LINCOLN, Neb. – A new complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO) asks the agency to investigate if Nebraska school officials outed a transgender middle school student without consent. The complaint, filed with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska, says administrators appear to have violated the law and the student’s privacy.

The case dates back to August 2023. It involves a 12-year-old trans girl living in eastern Nebraska who socially transitioned in early elementary school and is known as a girl by all of her peers.

Shortly after a private meeting with school administrators at the start of her time in middle school, the family unexpectedly heard from the president of a private organization who said he had just learned the student is trans. The family says connections between the organization’s leadership and middle school administrators leave them certain that school officials violated their privacy by outing the student. 

Their complaint to the SPPO asserts school officials violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits schools from disclosing personal student information without written permission from a parent or guardian. If the SPPO finds that there is reasonable cause to believe that a FERPA violation has occurred, the agency can require corrective action such as mandatory training or revisions to school policy and procedures. Further, in order to remain eligible for federal funding, the school must comply with the requirements of FERPA and protect students’ personal information.

The students’ parents issued this statement on the complaint. 

“As parents, we had the basic expectation that our child’s private information would be protected and safeguarded by those who held positions in school giving them access to confidential information. That was not the case, and the consequences for our child both inside and outside of school have been heartbreaking to watch unfold. Our child deserved better. We never want another child or family to face the pain we have because of abuse of information.”

Grant Friedman, ACLU of Nebraska legal fellow, made this statement on the complaint.

“Parents should be able to trust schools to treat their kids with respect and protect their family’s privacy,” Friedman said. “Under FERPA, whether a student is transgender or not is confidential and protected information. Sharing that highly sensitive information without permission is a major violation of trust that can easily risk a student’s safety and well-being. We hope for a swift investigation and appropriate action based on what investigators uncover.”