California LGBTQ Caucus Seeks to Ban Parental Notification Policies for Student Gender Identities

California LGBTQ Caucus Seeks to Ban Parental Notification Policies for Student Gender Identities

A transgender individual speaks at a press conference in support of Assembly Bill 1955 in Sacramento, Calif., on May 22, 2024. (Courtesy of the Office of Assemblyman Chris Ward)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

5/28/2024

Updated: 6/2/2024

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The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is pushing new legislation that would ban school boards from enacting and enforcing notification policies to inform parents if their children change gender identities at school.
LGBTQ Caucus vice-chair Assemblyman Chris Ward (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 1955 along with other members of the 13-member caucus comprised of Democrats on May 22.
AB 1955 would prohibit schools “from enacting or enforcing any policy, rule, or administrative regulation 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,” according to the proposed bill text.
The legislation, called the “Support Academic Futures and Educators for Today’s Youth Act” or “SAFETY Act,” would also prohibit school employees or contractors from disclosing the gender identities of students and prohibit school districts and employees “from retaliating or taking adverse action against an employee” because they supported such policies.
The legislation was created through the controversial “gut-and-amend” process, which replaced a different bill that was introduced in January.
According to the LGBTQ Caucus, AB 1955 would strengthen California protections against “forced outings of LGBTQ+ students in schools,” and “provide critical resources for parents and families of LGBTQ+ students to support them in working towards family acceptance on their own terms; and provide additional protections to educators who face retaliatory actions from administrators and school boards for seeking to create an inclusive and safe school environment.”
Tony Thurmond, the state superintendent of public instruction, also attended the LGBTQ Caucus announcement in support of efforts to ban parental notification policies for student gender identities.
Meanwhile, parental rights advocates say the bill bans parental notification policies that have already been lawfully adopted by several school boards across California and forces school employees to keep secrets from parents.
Jacob Huebert, president of the Liberty Justice Center, which represents two California school districts fighting to defend their parental notification policies, said in a May 24 press release that parents have a right to know what their children are doing at school.
The Liberty Justice Center, a nonprofit law group that defends constitutional rights, is involved in the court cases California v. Chino Valley Unified School District and California Department of Education v. Rocklin Unified School District.
“School officials have no right to keep secrets from parents. That’s true now, and it will still be true if the state passes this bill,” Mr. Huebert said in the statement. “We will continue to stand with parents and the school districts that want to respect their rights—and we’ll continue to represent them free of charge, at no cost to taxpayers.”
Sonja Shaw, president of Chino Valley Unified school board, speaks at a press conference outside the California state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 14, 2023. (Courtesy of California Family Council)

Sonja Shaw, president of Chino Valley Unified school board, speaks at a press conference outside the California state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 14, 2023. (Courtesy of California Family Council)

Sonja Shaw, president of the Chino Valley Unified School District school board, which enacted a parental notification policy but was prevented from enforcing it via a preliminary injunction sought by state Attorney General Rob Bonta, said in a May 24 statement that both Mr. Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom owe Californians an apology for suing the district for a legal policy it had every right to enact and enforce.
“Parental notification policies are crucial because they foster trust between parents and schools,” Ms. Shaw said. “These policies are a commitment to the community—they are a commitment that schools will not keep secrets from parents about their own children.”
The state government’s claim that teachers face retaliation from parents “is absurd,” she said.
“Teachers never handled parental notifications—district admins did,” Ms. Shaw said. “This provision is a smokescreen for a non-existent problem. Children’s safety should never be second to unfounded fears of adults being retaliated against. This narrative is misleading and dangerous.”
The state Senate Education Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for May 29.
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Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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