California Bill To Prevent Schools From Telling Parents if Their Kids Identify As LGBT

By: Alex Trent | Published: May 28, 2024

A new California bill introduced by Democrat Assemblymember Chris Ward seeks to provide strengthened protections against forced outings of LGBT students in schools and keep educators safe from retaliation if they don’t notify parents.

However, critics say the bill if passed would allow schools to keep parents in the dark about their children’s issues, and say it would allow the school to undermine an open dialogue about the subject between parents and children.

Assembly Bill 1955

The new California bill, called Assembly Bill 1955, also goes by the name of the Support Academic Futures & Educators for Today’s Youth (Safety Act).

A person holding both hands together. Each hand has one of the letters for LGBTQIA+ on.

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The California LGBTQ Caucus asserts the bill will “strengthen existing California protections against forced outings of LGBTQ+ students in schools; provide critical resources for parents and families ofLGBTQ+ 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.”


Need for Legislation

The LGBTQ Caucus describes the motivation for the bill as a response to recent “forced outing” policies by California school boards.

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“Since July 2023, multiple school boards in California have voted to pass “forced outing” policies requiring teachers to notify parents, if their child identifies as transgender. These policies also require schools to notify parents if their child changes their name or pronouns, or requests access to a gender-based restroom, changing room, or sport that corresponds with their gender identity rather than the sex they were assigned at birth,” said the LGBTQ Caucus.

Secrets From Parents

While supporters of the bill feel it provides essential protections for LGBT students who face increased challenges in school, opponents feel that it takes agency away from parents over raising their children.

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“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 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.”

Constitutionality of the Bill

The California Policy Center sent a letter to Assemblymember Ward who introduced the bill, decrying its language on legal grounds. 

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In the letter they called the legislation unconstitutional and said that it would be a violation of parental rights that would lead to a “trifecta of harms.”

Parent’s Right to Know

The Liberty Justice Center released a statement on Friday documenting their opposition to the legislation.

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“Parents have a right to know what their own minor children are doing at school—and 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. 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,” said Liberty Justice Center President Jacob Huebert.


Ward’s Response

Ward has heard and responded to some of the criticisms levied by the bill’s opponents, saying that there is nothing in the SAFETY Act that “prohibits parents from talking to their children about anything, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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“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,” said Ward.


Critical Support

Supporters of the bill argue that the increased rates of depression and suicide among LGBT youth justify the extra protections and secrecy around coming out.

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“A 2020 study by The Trevor Project’s researchers, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that transgender and non-binary youth were 2 to 2.5 times as likely to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to their cisgender LGBTQ+ peers,” said the LGBT Caucus.


Not Forcing Conversations

The LGBTQ Caucus reframes the argument, saying schools are the ones interfering in family conversations around sensitive topics and this bill would put a stop to that.

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“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. “No teacher, administrator, or others outside of the family should be forcing families to have conversations.”


Gut and Amend

Ward introduced the bill through a process called “gut-and-amend” which allows lawmakers to skip typical review deadlines for bills and shortcut the public review process, which has drawn criticism.

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“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,” said the California Policy Center (CPC) Vice President of Education Policy and Government Affairs.


Bottom Line

In their letter, the CPC expressed the core opposition many critics have of the legislation that would give schools permission to subvert parental authority.

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“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,” said the CPC Vice President.


What’s Next?

The SAFETY Act is set to be heard in the Senate Education Committee this week where it will be up for approval.

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If it reaches approval then it will head the state assembly for a vote. After passing through the legislature the last step required will be a signature by California Governor Gavin Newsom before it becomes law.