A new bill would force California school districts to notify parents that their child is transgender or gender non-conforming, prompting backlash from LGBTQ+ activists and organizations.
The invoice, AB 1314would require school districts to notify parents in writing within three days of learning that a student identifies as a gender that does not align with official records or their birth certificate.
“Parents play a critical role in nurturing and supporting children and cannot be removed from the equation,” said Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside), who sponsored the bill, during a news conference on Monday in front of Jurupa Valley High School.
Jessica Tapia, a former teacher at Jurupa Valley High School, said she was fired after refusing to follow the law that prohibits educators from revealing students’ gender identities to their parents without their consent.
“I said, ‘Are you asking me to lie?’ And they said: ‘Yes. It’s the law and it’s for the student’s privacy,’” Tapia said during the press conference. “I can’t understand how the school system seems to think we should act like parents.”
Tapia plans to sue the Jurupa Unified School District for wrongful termination.
Under California, federal, and state anti-discrimination laws, the identity of a transgender or gender nonconforming student may not be shared with his or her parents without the student’s permission, pursuant to the California Department of Education.
Because the student may not express their identity at home, disclosing their gender identity to their parents could increase their “vulnerability to harassment and violate the student’s right to privacy,” the agency states.
The Center for American Freedom filed a lawsuit in January against the Chico Unified School District’s superintendent and school board on behalf of a father, who said the school transitioned his son “behind his mother’s back.”
The California Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus released a statement on the bill, saying it would put transgender and non-binary students in “life-threatening danger, subjecting them to trauma and violence.”
“Teachers should not be forced into the inappropriate position of disclosing a student’s personal information about their gender identity to anyone,” the statement conveyed.
Executive Director Tony Hoang of Equality California, the county’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, also opposes the bill.
“We want LGBTQ+ students to feel safe talking to their parents about their gender and sexuality, but AB 1314 ignores the reality that not all trans youth have that option,” Hoang said in a statement. “Trans people are more likely to face family rejection and even abuse at home based on their gender identity, leading to overrepresentation in foster care, juvenile detention, and among homeless youth.”