California bill would ban schools from telling parents if student identifies as LGBTQ: ‘Gut-and-amend’

California lawmakers are introducing a new bill that would ban school districts from notifying parents if their child identifies as LGBTQ.

The new bill will be added to Assembly Bill 1955 — introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward, D-San Diego, earlier this year — through a process called “gut-and-amend.” 

Under the amended bill, called the “Support Academic Futures and Educators for Today’s Youth,” or SAFETY ACT, school districts would be banned from, what Ward described as, “forced outing policies.” 

In other words, educators could not notify parents about their students’ gender identity or sexual orientation if that were to come up at school. 

The move comes in response to multiple California school boards having voted to pass measures that require teachers to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender, changes their name or pronouns, or requests to access a restroom, changing room, or sport geared to the opposite sex.

The new bill would codify existing state protections against what has been described as “forced outings” of LGBTQ students and would provide resources for families of LGBTQ students. The measure would also protect educators from retaliation if they do not notify parents. 

Opponents of the bill say it keeps parents in the dark. 

“No matter how much Democrats dislike it, the fact is parents have a right to be involved in their kids’ education,” said California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher in a statement to Fox News Digital. “It’s unbelievable that anyone would think that teachers can keep secrets from parents, but it’s flat-out disgusting that Democrats are trying to mandate that schools keep parents in the dark.” 

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In a letter to Ward, the California Policy Center called the bill “unconstitutional” and argued that it “violates parents’ established authority over their children and would constitute … a trifecta of harms.” 

“Here’s the bottom line: Public schools are meant to support parents in their efforts to educate their children, not to subvert parents as this bill would codify,” wrote CPC Vice President of Education Policy and Government Affairs. 

“There are so many problems with this bill that a simple opposition letter cannot cover every one of them. It’s hard for skeptics to see this gut-and-amend as anything but an effort to hide those problems from public scrutiny, let alone adequate constitutional review.”

Ward has countered that nothing in the SAFETY Act “prohibits parents from talking to their children about anything, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“In fact, as a parent myself, I believe parents should have an open dialogue with their children, and these conversations should be happening at home,” Ward said, adding that a student’s decision to come out is a “personal one” that should happen on their own terms. 

Proponents of the measure say that while many parents are supportive of their children, many young people come from homes where they do not feel accepted. 

The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus has argued that schools can be a “critical source of support,” and pointed to studies like the Trevor Project’s 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which found that “affirming school environments significantly reduce the odds of transgender youth attempting suicide.”  

“Parental involvement in their children’s lives is desirable and often necessary, however, a student’s gender identity is generally a matter to be discussed between the child and their parents in the time and manner chosen by the family,” the LGBTQ Caucus said in a joint statement. “No teacher, administrator, or others outside of the family should be forcing families to have conversations.” 

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The SAFETY Act will be heard by the Senate Education Committee next week. 

If approved by the Senate, it will return to the Assembly for additional consideration before it goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.