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Assemblyman Chris Ward (Photo: lgbtqcaucus.legislature.ca)

Bill to Ban School Notification Of Pronoun Change to Parents Passed By Senate

AB 1955 passes with divisive 29-8 with 3 abstentions vote

By Evan Symon, June 14, 2024 1:09 pm

A bill that would prohibit school districts from allowing teachers to let parents know if their child is using a new pronoun at school passed the Senate on Thursday in a divisive 29-8 with 3 abstentions vote.

Assembly Bill 1955, authored by Assemblyman Chris Ward (D-San Diego), would prohibit school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, and the state special schools, and a member of the governing board or body of those educational entities, from enacting or enforcing any policy or rule that requires an employee or a contractor to disclose any information related to a pupil’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to any other person without the pupil’s consent unless otherwise required by law. The bill, also known as the Support Academic Futures and Educators for Today’s Youth Act (SAFETY Act), would also prohibit employees or contractors of those educational entities from being required to make such a disclosure unless otherwise required by law.

In addition, AB 1955 would prohibit employees or contractors of school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, or the state special schools, or members of the governing boards or bodies of those educational entities, from retaliating or taking adverse action against an employee on the basis that the employee supported a pupil in the exercise of specified rights, work activities, or providing certain instruction. The State Department of education would also be required to develop resources or update existing resources for supports and community resources for the support of parents, guardians, and families of LGBTQ pupils and strategies to increase support for LGBTQ pupils under the bill.

Assemblyman Ward wrote the bill in conjunction with the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus last month in response to more and more school districts in California proposing or passing policies requiring teachers to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender or asks to be identified by a different name or pronouns while at school. In a statement last month, they said that those measures have had a measurable impact on the mental health of LGBTQ+ students, and can lead to a rise in bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Many also pushed for the bill explaining that LGBTQ students had the right to come out to their parents on their own terms and not through a school notification.

“Teachers should not be the gender police and violate the trust and safety of the students in their classrooms,” said Assemblyman Ward. “Parents should be talking to their children, and the decision for a student to come out to their family members should be on their own terms. The SAFETY Act simply ensures that conversations about gender identity and sexuality happen at home without interference from others outside of the family unit.”

Senator Susan Eggman added that “School campuses should be safe places for students to learn and grow as their authentic selves. The SAFETY Act is a critical piece of legislation that seeks to protect everyone on school campuses, especially LGBTQ+ students. When and how a person comes out is a conversation that should be reserved for a student and a parent, not arbitrarily forced on unsuspecting youth by a school administration.”

AB 1955 passes Senate

However, GOP lawmakers, as well as select Democrats, have argued against the bill. Many have said that schools need to increase transparency with parents and not withhold information about their children, as they are not yet adults. Others noted that AB 1955 makes assumptions of parents negatively reacting to such reported changes, as well as parents having multiple other ways of finding out about such changes.

“If we include the parents, that’s the best way to take something from people being angry and mad to developing a solution that works for everybody,” expressed Senator Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta).

Law researcher Kyle Gold added in a Globe interview on Friday that “AB 1955 is almost moot. Parents have so many other options in finding out if their child is using a new pronoun. Getting a notification from school is just one of the more direct. If parents want to find out, they’ll find out.”

Even with significant opposition, AB 1955 quickly moved up in the Senate. In committee votes, the bill was split between Democrats and Republicans. That split carried on to the Senate vote on Thursday, passing with a polarizing 29-8 with 3 abstentions vote. The bill is now set to go to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass with a similarly split vote. Governor Gavin Newsom has also expressed that he will likely sign the bill, indicating that AB 1955 has a good chance of becoming law by the fall.

Despite this, some opposing the bill have remained adamant that, even if the bill is passed, all it would do is remove one of multiple avenues for parents to have transparency over their children’s preferred pronouns in school.

“There’s so many ways this law can backfire,” continued Gold. “Especially accidentally. One scenario, for example, can be at parent teach conferences where the teacher accidently uses the new pronoun without the parent knowing. Or a principal uses it accidently. Or the parents finds out through a friend or other parent. Again, this is just one of the most direct ways parents would be informed. Under other scenarios it takes the parent off guard, which can hurt them a lot or even be distrustful of everything going on. Parental notification of such a change lets parents know in a calm and easy way of such changes. Other ways are much more surprising. AB 1955 is a lot more rougher than they are letting on.”

AB 1955 is to go before Assembly committees soon.

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4 thoughts on “Bill to Ban School Notification Of Pronoun Change to Parents Passed By Senate

  1. This bill will be killed in the courts regardless. A fundamental change in a child’s behavior such as this cannot be withheld from the parents. This will also cause more and more parents to pull their children out of public schools. It’s going to backfire big tim.

  2. This is a NO. Obviously. Please consider contacting your assembly member to URGE a NO Vote on this when it comes before them in the Assembly.

    As was cited in the article, most people’s concern about this is the obvious and suspiciously desperate desire by some school districts, the most Dem legislators, AG Rob Bonta, Supt of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Gov Gavin Newsom, and others, to move in the unacceptable direction of keeping the school’s transgender knowledge about people’s kids a SECRET. Ask yourself why on earth they would want to do that? And what the heck is going on with the flimsy excuse, that NO ONE should accept, that they are doing it out of concern for the student, that they are PROTECTING the student from their parents, which is the upside-down assumption here? Nonsense.
    “How Activist Teachers Recruit Kids”
    (Continued below…..)

  3. I am very concerned that other bills that passed last year in this category—- AB 665 in particular —-will be used in conjunction with bills like AB 1955, should it pass and be signed by Newsom.
    “CA Dems further erode parental rights with children’s mental health bill” (AB 665)

    Seems to me the following is a plausible scenario: School districts keep the student transgender knowledge a secret from parents, work on brainwashing the kids to believe this nonsense a bit more, get some to conform to the pressure about fluid gender, other gender, and the rest, and next thing you know they are recommended for secret mental health counseling a la AB 665, which is ok’d for children 12 years and up —- NO parental knowledge or permission needed — after which they could be secretly funneled through the transgender pipeline, in coordination with L.A. (County) Children’s Hospital which, by the way, has a “Center for TransYouth Health and Development.” This “center” has recently “partnered” with LAUSD. Have a look:
    “Children’s Hospital L.A. Announces Center for TransYouth Health and Development”

    Does this bad outcome sound farfetched? Maybe, but maybe it’s NOT. It has the potential to become much more routine than one would think, and maybe it is happening already. All under the radar, no parental permission required, because of last year’s of AB 665.
    Please urge your assembly member to Vote NO on AB 1955

  4. … Let’s see here, the public education system is becoming the parent. The state is becoming the parent… Sounds eerily familiar and dystopian.

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