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New California Bill Preventing Schools From Telling Parents if Their Kids Identify As LGBT Sparks Debate

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A picture of the introduction of the SAFETY Act
Source: @AsmChrisWard/X

In a highly controversial move, California Democrats are pushing a bill that will allow educators to conceal their student’s LGBT identities. The bill seeks to reverse policies encouraging schools to disclose students’ gender inclinations to parents. 

The plan has infuriated parents, who have launched a fierce pushback that will likely escalate as the bill progresses. Assembly Bill 1955, which has drawn so much opposition from parents and concerned citizens, is the brainchild of San Diego Democrat Assemblymember Chris Ward.

The bill, also called the Support Academic Futures & Educators for Today’s Youth (Safety Act), will, according to the California LGBTQ Caucus, “strengthen existing California protections against forced outings of LGBTQ+ students in schools.”

Several California school boards introduced forced outings in July 2023. The policy mandated that teachers inform parents if their child identified as transgender. 

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It also required schools to inform parents about LGBTQ signals, such as a change of name or pronouns and requests for access to gender-based restrooms or changing rooms. 

The LGBTQ Caucus hasn’t hidden its motivation for pushing the bill, which it says is a bid to fight back against the increasing popularity of the forced outing policy. The policy wasn’t easy to implement in a state as blue as California. 

Apart from the planned override of forced outings, the bill offers several benefits for LGBTQ kids and parents. The bill, if passed, will also “provide additional protections to educators who face retaliatory actions from administrators and school boards for seeking to create an inclusive and safe school environment,” the statement also read.

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Chris Ward himself has spoken to the media about the bill. In making a case for it, Ward said, “Forced outing policies that require exposing students without their consent harm everyone.”

Opponents of the bill have questioned the disadvantage it has imposed on parents regarding raising their children. Even more worrisome is a particular portion of the bill that allows schools to lie to parents about students switching genders.

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In addition to the bill’s controversial content, critics have criticized its initiator, Chris Wards, for what they see as dishonest and cunning actions regarding its formulation. 

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Critics have also drawn attention to the perceived hastiness Ward exhibited in processing the bill. According to an article by the California Policy Center, Ward went out of his way to ensure that parent groups had a very short time to submit letters to the Senate Education Committee opposing the bill.

Despite the short notice, the Center has also encouraged parents to send their written objections to the Senate. In a message to the parents’ group, the Center wrote, “We encourage you to submit your letters before Wednesday’s hearing.”

The letter also provided a video guide with detailed steps the parents needed to take to ensure prompt submission. The guide also presented useful information about the senate committee’s hearing.

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Another major focus of the California Policy Center is the bill’s legality. The Center believes it is unconstitutional and a violation of parents’ rights, likely to result in a “trifecta of harm.”

However, Ward has addressed the points raised by the bill’s opponents. In his response, he argued that the SAFETY Act does not “prohibit parents from talking to their children about anything, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The two opposing philosophies at play in the issue are the rights of the LGBTQ and the authority of parents to have a say and provide direction in their kids’s lives. 

All eyes are on the Senate Education Committee to hear both sides of the argument and make a decision. Regardless of the committee’s decision, it doesn’t seem likely to resolve the matter.

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