California Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would require school districts to alert parents if their child is trans-identifying or “non-binary” after a state high school fired one of its teachers for violating a state anti-discrimination law that prohibits such interactions.
Last week, Assemblymembers Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) unveiled AB-1314, otherwise known as the “Gender identity: parental notification” bill, which would require school district officials to notify parents within three days in writing if their children identify contrary to their biological sex documented on their official records or birth certificate.
“Parents play a critical role in nurturing and supporting children and they cannot be removed from the equation,” Essayli said during a Monday news conference, The Los Angeles Times reported.
“Concealing information from parents is not only wrong — it’s dangerous and harmful to the emotional and physical safety of trans minors,” Essayli added, according to ABC7.
Essayli held the press conference outside Jurupa Valley High School with former teacher Jessica Tapia, who was fired after refusing to follow the current state law that stops educators from discussing their children’s gender without consent from the student.
“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. “I can’t understand how the school system seems to think that we ought to act as though we are the parent.”
According to the California Department of Education, the current law protects trans-identifying students because disclosing their gender identity to their parents could increase their “vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.”
“We are talking about minors,” Tapia said. “Their brain is not fully developed. The decision-making portal in that brain is not fully developed, and they need their parents at this time for everything.”
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“Everything they’re going through — mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually — you name it,” she added.
Tapia said she plans on suing the school district for wrongful termination.
Jurupa Unified School District officials told ABC7 in a statement that “all students and staff enjoy the right to privacy under the Constitutions of the United States and California.”
“While individuals may elect to disclose their personal information to the public, the District is prohibited from doing so,” the statement said. “The District’s actions related to Ms. Tapia were based on its obligations under current state and federal law, which protects student privacy and requires the District to provide a discrimination-free learning environment to students.”
Assemblymember Essayli said that if the new law passes, it will reset an appropriate relationship between educators and parents — reaffirming children belong to their parents and not the government.
Officials from the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus released a statement reported by The Los Angeles Times that says the new bill would put transgender and nonbinary students in “potentially life threatening danger, subjecting them to trauma and violence.”
“Teachers should not be forced into the inappropriate position of revealing a student’s personal information about their gender identity with anyone,” the statement reads.
California parent Peggy Bigby Lamberth argued that parents should be involved with their children’s decisions.
“Parents should absolutely be involved in all the decisions that their kids make,” Lamberth told ABC7. “Right now, kids are influenced by the media, by their friends, by just a lot of mixed messages.”
Last January, another California school district came under fire after The Center for American Liberty filed a lawsuit against the Chico Unified School District superintendent and school board for allegedly transitioning a female child “behind her mother’s back.”