California Senate passes ban on requiring schools to notify parents of child's gender transition

The California Senate has approved a bill that would prohibit school districts from requiring school officials to share information about a student's sexual orientation and gender identity with the child's parent, drawing concerns from Christian and parental rights groups.

On Monday, the Democrat-controlled California Senate passed Assembly Bill 1955 in 29-8 vote. Support for the legislation fell along party lines, with all votes in favor of it coming from Democrats and all opposition coming from Republicans.

The legislation includes a provision stating that “[a]an employee or contractor of a school district, county office of education, charter school or state special school for the blind or deaf must not disclose any information related to a student's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to. any other person without the student's consent unless otherwise required by state or federal law.”

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The bill states that “policies that forcibly 'remove' students without their consent remove opportunities for LGBTQ+ youth and their families to build trust and have those conversations when they are ready.”

The measure comes in response to local school districts adopting policies requiring parental notification when it comes to such matters.

Sonja ShawA school board member for the China Valley Unified School District that passed a parent notification policy said that “if a child requests that the school district now call them by the name of another gender or go into the bathroom of the other gender, we will notify the parents. “

“No one is outing anyone,” she said, adding, “The child is out, and the parents have a right to know.”

Since the California Senate completely revamped the original Assembly Bill 1955, which was previously passed by the Democratic-controlled California Assembly, to make it the Supporting Academic Futures and Educators for Today's Youth (SECURITY) Act, which exclusively addresses LGBT youth, a conservative . organizations emerged as strong opponents of the measure.

Students First CaliforniaAn advocacy group that seeks to ensure “parents have a seat at the table” when it comes to raising their children has released a letter voicing opposition to the measure last month.

“There is a reason courts have consistently affirmed that parents have a fundamental right to direct the care and education of their children,” wrote Students First California President Jonathan Zachreson.

“Parents know and care about their children more than anyone else and are ultimately responsible for them in every environment – school, home and elsewhere,” he added. “Informing and involving parents in something as important as when a school takes an active role in a child's social transition is critical to the well-being of children and to maintaining trust between schools and parents.”

Expressing concern that the bill would do “the opposite by prohibiting schools from enacting or enforcing policies to bring parents into the process of supporting their own children and would strengthen policies intended to keep secrets from parents,” Zachreson warned that the bill would “erode trust between schools and parents and further exacerbates enrollment problems that schools face.”

Citing state law, Zachreson noted that “parents of students under 18 years old in public schools have an absolute right to access all records related to their children and the redaction or retention of any of those records is prohibited.”

“These records include the gender and name the child goes by in school regardless of whether the gender or name matches the student's official government documents,” lamenting that “AB 1955 would enable and strengthen policies that violate this right.”

The Christian conservative advocacy organization California Family Council has too expressed his opposition to the invoice.

“This bill assumes that parents with biblical beliefs about sex and sexuality are a threat to their own children,” the organization stated in online campaign against the bill.

“AB 1955 marginalizes parents by preventing them from receiving critical information about their children. Parents must be informed partners in dealing with issues of gender identity, ensuring that their children receive the support and guidance they need within the family unit.”

The California-based LGBT activist group Riverside Pride signaled its support for the legislation in a statement released last month.

“As we've seen over the last year in the Inland Empire and across the country, efforts to violently exterminate trans youth continue to threaten the rights of our students. AB 1955 is a significant step forward in protecting the privacy and dignity of LGBTQ+ youth, ” the organization claimed.

“It addresses the critical need for safeguards that prevent the involuntary disclosure of a student's gender identity or gender identity, which can lead to devastating consequences, including discrimination, harassment and even family rejection. Studies consistently show that LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented among youth experiencing homelessness, with mistreatment, fear of mistreatment or being ostracized because of their LGBTQ identity are some of the main causes,” the group claimed.

Highlighting the “profound impact that a supportive and understanding school environment has on the mental health and academic success of LGBTQ+ students,” Riverside Pride praised the bill as an initiative that “not only strengthens California's commitment to equity and inclusion but also empowers educators to create .a more respectful and safe environment for all students to thrive.”

The bill must return to the Assembly before it can be sent to the desk of California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.


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