Mother’s claims for release of sexual orientation information of daughter dismissed.

Wyatt v. Fletcher No. 11-41359 (5th Cir. May 31, 2013).

This is essentially a privacy claim for information known to the entity and released to the parent.  For cities which have programs, community centers, and other situations where information about minors is known to the entity, this case is important for qualified immunity purposes.

In this case a mother brought a §1983 action against two high school coaches who disclosed the daughters sexual orientation to the mother during a disciplinary hearing. She also alleged a violation based on a disciplinary confrontation with the daughter in a locked locker room. The trial court denied the coaches claims of qualified immunity and they took this interlocutory appeal.

The Fifth Circuit went through a detailed recap and analysis of the constitutional right to privacy but ultimately held there was no clearly established privacy right under the Fourteenth Amendment that precludes officials from discussing with a parent the student’s (minor’s) private matters, including matters relating to sexual activity of the student. Further, there is no clearly established right that bars a private confrontation regarding sexual orientation (in a closed and locked room), even if the minor is not permitted to leave during the relatively short confrontation. The court reversed the denial and rendered judgment dismissing the coaches.

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