California Legislature bans schools notifying parents of gender change requests

(The Center Square) – The California Legislature erupted in chaos before it passed a ban on parental notification for gender change requests from TK-12 students.

If signed by the governor, the…

(The Center Square) – The California Legislature erupted in chaos before it passed a ban on parental notification for gender change requests from TK-12 students.

If signed by the governor, the bill would render moot the parental notification policies that have been adopted by many California school districts.

After the California Department of Education issued guidance that schools should not disclose students’ gender-related record change requests to parents, some California school districts adopted rules requiring parents to be notified if their children request to officially change their pronouns, go by a different name, or use facilities or school programs for children of the opposite gender. California Attorney General Rob Bonta responded by supporting lawsuits against these school districts, and the current bill in question, AB 1955.

AB 1955, introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward, D-San Diego, would ban parental notification policies, and expand resources for LGBTQ+ students and families.

“This comes from a growing national attack on LGBTQ people, and particularly transgender individuals, rising since 2020, with several California school districts and other states enacting policies that explicitly compel teachers to tell parents if their child identifies as transgender, policies known as forced outings,” said Ward at the bill’s final floor vote, noting the bill is a California LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus priority bill.

Assemblymember Bill Essayli, R-Corona, has been publicly opposed to AB 1955 and had his microphone cut off by Assembly Speaker pro tempore Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, for reading Chino Valley Unified School District’s notification policy — a move Wood said was not germane.

Essayli then motioned for Wood to find Assemblymember Rick Zbur, D-West Hollywood, out of order for sharing his life experience as a gay man, leading Assemblymember Corey Jackson, D-Moreno Valley, to repeatedly shout, “You better watch yourself” in Essayli’s direction as other Democratic legislators grabbed Jackson and pulled him to the back of the room.

Wood then called recess, after which Ward successfully motioned to give Essayli three minutes to speak on the bill.

Essayli first read Chino’s notification policy, which requires parental notification within three days from when a child officially requests records changes or be treated as another gender and use another gender’s single-sex programs or facilities, before defending it.

“It’s not going out and listening to kids or suspecting a kid might be struggling with their gender identity and running to their parents, it’s when the child has come to the school and said I would like to change my name, change my gender, and I want the school to recognize my new name and gender,” said Essayli. “I do not think it’s unreasonable that the parents know the change is happening.”

Essayli also noted school employees have a duty and the power to protect students if they feel notification would place a student in danger at home. 

“If a teacher or principal has a suspicion that this kid is going to be harmed at  home or the child expresses that, first of all, they can advise their child not to change their records to avoid the notification, or two, they’re mandated reporters and can call for the authorities,” Essayli continued. 

KCRA reported California Governor Gavin Newsom told KCRA he said he is aware of the bill and looking forward to reviewing it, but would not otherwise comment on it, suggesting the bill’s future is still uncertain.