New Legislation May Force Schools To Get Parent Permission Before Helping Kids Transition
The legislation, if enacted, would prevent K-12 schools from assisting kids with “gender transition” behind their parents’ backs. This bill would not only require schools to inform parents of this school-assisted transition, but it would also give parents the ability to sue schools that violate this Act by withholding information about their child’s transition.
It is called the Empower Parents to Protect Their Kids Act, and it is legislation introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) in October 2021. The legislation, if enacted, would prevent K-12 schools from assisting kids with “gender transition” behind their parents’ backs. This bill would not only require schools to inform parents of this school-assisted transition, but it would also give parents the ability to sue schools that violate this Act by withholding information about their child’s transition.
“Schools should never be allowed to impose radical, harmful ideologies on children—especially without parents’ knowledge and consent. My bill will protect students and ensure that parents are in control of their children’s education. Schools must remain institutions of education, not indoctrination camps where minors are manipulated and brainwashed,” Cotton said on his website.
The impetus for this bill started in 2018 when the New Jersey’s Department of Education rolled out new policies concerning transgender students in public schools. Their new policies included allowing transgender students to use locker rooms and restrooms that are associated with their gender identity rather than their birth gender. These policies also allowed transgender students to participate on sports teams or compete individually in sports based on the gender they identify with. It also required school staff and teachers to address the student by their preferred name or pronoun.
It doesn’t matter, according to the New Jersey Department of Education if these policies align with your beliefs or not. What they also don’t care about is informing parents of this school transition policy. In part, the policy reads, “A school district shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity; parental consent is not required.”
New Jersey wasn’t the only state or school district to back the school transition policy. The Madison, Wisconsin school district has also followed the same rhetoric. Their policy states, “School staff shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s gender identity to others, including parents or guardians.”
The bill, which can be read in full here, would take aim at all federally funded elementary and secondary school employees, ensuring that they will abide by the set requirements in the bill in regards to minor students. These requirements concerning school transition include schools requiring parental consent before helping with a student’s gender transition in any way, shape, or form; information is not to be withheld from parents about their child’s gender identity requests; schools cannot coerce students into withholding gender identity information from parents; schools cannot pressure parents or students o move forward with a gender transition.
There are plenty of supporters who back this proposed school transition bill, although the simple fact that a bill of this nature even has to be put into law is an appalling thought to many. When the bill was introduced, Twitter lit up with disgust. Some of the responses were:
Back in 2018 when New Jersey introduced their school transgender policies, the New Jersey PTA was in direct opposition saying via GovTrack Insider, “We always have believed that any discussion that affects our students should be an all-inclusive discussion. [We] could never fully support anything that leaves the parent voice out.” Undoubtedly, they support this new bill.
But not all were on the same side with Sen. Cotton. Some opponents claim to be concerned for student safety when it comes to transgender students coming out to their families. They say that some students are concerned that once their parents are told, they will be tossed out of the house. Many school and public officials feel that creating a safe and supportive environment for the student at school is more important than the student discussing such an important topic and decision with their family.
The school transition bill now awaits a potential vote in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. With the chamber being Democrat-controlled, the general feeling is that it is going to have a difficult road in getting passed, which prompted one Twitter response to say, “Holding my breath to see how the Dems vote on this bill, if they vote no then ousting them in the next election will be like taking candy from a baby.”