Virginia parents could be the target of felony or misdemeanor charges for not affirming their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity if a Virginia lawmaker gets her way.
Democratic Delegate Elizabeth Guzman told WLJA on Thursday that she plans to reintroduce HB-580 in Richmond, which would make the parents’ opposition to their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity the crime of child abuse. Guzman co-sponsors the bill with fellow Democratic Delegates Mark Levine, Joshua Cole and Ibraheem Samirah, and Democratic Sen. Joe Morrissey.
The reintroduction of the bill is a response to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s updated model policies on transgender students, which says public schools cannot offer gender-affirming counseling to students until parents are notified and give input. The guidelines also require students to use bathrooms and compete in sports teams based on their biological sex.
“The day that Gov. Youngkin wanted to implement this policy, I immediately texted the policy lead of that committee and said, this is how we’re going to push back,” Guzman told 7News.
The bill would change the state’s definition of child abuse and neglect to include parents who don’t affirm their LGBTQ children. According to Guzman, reported parents will undergo investigations from social workers and police before a CPS charge is issued.
“It could be a felony, it could be a misdemeanor, but we know that [a] CPS charge could harm your employment, could harm their education, because nowadays many people do a CPS database search before offering employment,” Guzman warned.
She claims this bill doesn’t incriminate parents but “educates” them on the “do’s and don’ts.” And when asked by local news whether the bill infringes on freedom of speech or religion, Guzman said no, claiming support from the Bible.
“The Bible says to accept everyone for who they are,” she said. “So that’s what I tell them when they asked me that question, and that’s what I will continue to tell people.”
Guzman’s comments are facing pushback, including from preachers, politicians, and policy experts.
“The Bible says no such thing,” evangelical apologist James White tweeted. “Just the opposite. Satan twisted Scripture, so do his servants today.”
“Utterly horrifying,” Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. “These zealots think they are your children’s parents, and they’ll put you in jail if you disagree.”
“Wake up, parents,” tweeted school choice leader and policy expert Corey DeAngelis.
And while Guzman claimed she hasn’t seen parents oppose the proposed reintroduction of HB-580, Fight for Schools Executive Director Ian Prior believes otherwise. “Oh, you will be seeing that [parents coming out against it],” he tweeted, quoting Guzman’s claim.