A Republican California lawmaker warned families to escape from the Golden State after legislators advanced a bill on Tuesday that would accuse parents of child abuse if they refuse to “affirm” their children’s so-called gender identity.
Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley) sounded the alarm during a hearing late Tuesday night when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-1 to advance Assembly Bill 957, which rewrites much of the state’s family law and classifies “a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity as part of the health, safety, and welfare of the child.”
“In the past, when we’ve had these discussions, and I’ve seen parental rights atrophy, I’ve encouraged people to keep fighting,” Wilk said. “I’ve changed my mind on that — if you love your children, you need to flee California. You need to flee.”
The bill amends Section 3011 of the Family Code, which deals with child custody disputes, and requires that a court determining the “best interests” of the child must consider the affirmation of a so-called transgender identity. If a parent were to deny the child’s “gender identity,” it would be a violation of the child’s health, safety, and welfare — equivalent to child abuse.
Because the bill changes the definition of what constitutes the “health, safety, and welfare” of a child, any organization interacting with children — including schools, churches, and hospitals — would be required to affirm gender transitions in minors.
The bill’s text is ambiguous and general, making no distinctions regarding the age of the child, how long the child has identified as transgender, or the difference between affirming social transitions and sex-change treatments.
Wilk, who was born and raised in California and served in the state legislature for 11 years, said he plans to move after he finishes his term.
“I love this state,” Wilk said. “I’m not going to stay in this state because it’s just too oppressive. I believe in freedom, and so I’m going to move to America when I leave the legislature.”
Wilk’s comments were paired with hundreds of parents and family-rights groups who oppose the bill, arguing that it further replaces parental authority with state control.
Erin Friday, branch leader of the pro-parents group Our Duty, argues that AB 957, which would be the first bill in the U.S. to codify “gender-affirming” denial as child abusive, lacks nuance in its language.
“It matters not the age of the child, the absurdity of the identity adopted, co-morbid mental health issues, or persistence,” Friday said. “Family court judges will be compelled to favor the parent who affirm the child’s delusion.”
Stella O’Malley, an Ireland-based psychotherapist, told Fox News that the California bill introduces a range of issues, including an unclear definition of affirmation.
“For the state of California to bring in a bill based on this new approach is so high-handed and reckless, it’s going to cause an awful lot of distress,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley runs Genspect, which advocates for evidence-based approaches to gender distress, according to its website.
“A key aspect of the affirmative approach is that it’s child-led,” O’Malley said. “The affirmative approach believes the child knows better, which is basically denying the immaturity of a child. Never before in the history of mankind have we had children leading adults, have we had children leading professionals in the decisions around their care.”
Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, who authored the bill, said children should be affirmed in “every possible way,” Fox News reported during a March hearing.
“Whether it’s based on their gender, whether it’s based on how their studies are in school, it doesn’t matter, our children should be affirmed,” she said.
The bill now heads to the California State Senate and would need to pass both chambers of legislature before reaching the desk of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
Anthony Cash contributed to this report.