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Parent Notification Finally Gets Public Debate After CA Legislators Refuse

Last week, legislators finally had a real debate about parent notification and gender social transitioning at schools, a discussion California state legislators refused to have last year fearing it would give a forum for “hateful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ youth.” In a forum hosted by CalMatters, Assemblymen Bill Essayli (R-Corona) and Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) offered varied perspectives and answered questions on “Book Bans and Pronoun Wars: What’s in Store for School Boards in 2024.” It was an eye-opening discussion centered around parental rights.

Last year, Assemblyman Bill Essayli introduced AB 1314, a bill requiring public schools to notify parents if a child asks to be identified as a gender different from the sex listed on his or her birth certificate at school. Currently, suppose a child in a California K-12 public school publicly announces to teachers and students that they want to be addressed as a gender different from the gender listed on their official documents. In that case, school employees are told they must keep this information hidden from the parents. AB 1314 was assigned to the Assembly Committee on Education, but California Assembly Education Committee Chair Al Muratsuch refused to hold a hearing for the bill.

Jackson, in contrast, authored AB 1078 last year, which allows the state to fine school districts if their curriculum isn’t “inclusive and diverse” enough. The legislation was in response to California parents protesting books containing obscenity, and racist critical race theory, and school board members in Temecula who objected to teaching kids about a gay rights leader Harvey Milk, an activist known for pedastry. 

Essayli began the discussion by noting that most parents are in favor of transparency in schools. “80% of parents, according to Gallup, support parental notification and parental rights,” said Essayli. “This isn’t about LGBT issues. It’s about the appropriate role for parents in raising their kids.”

The moderator asked Essayli if parental notification policies would only make life harder for LGBT students who are already more likely to be bullied and experience mental health struggles. 

“I disagree that parents are a threat to their children,” Essayli responded. “No one is going to love a kid more than their parent. Even if they don’t agree with everything their kid does, they still love them and are going to have their best interest for them.” 

He then pointed to peer-reviewed studies by the National Institutes of Health that show that children experiencing gender dysphoria have better outcomes when their parents are involved. “Allowing kids to live a double life at school with the knowledge and consent of the district is more harmful to them than to let the parents know what is happening so the parents can find and get them support,” Essayli said. “We’re talking about life-altering, huge decisions here.” 

He went on to say that children don’t have the capacity to make such a consequential decision, as proven by the many detransitioners who now regret permanently harming their bodies.

“The real question we should be asking here is what authority does the state and school district have to withhold information from parents? They don’t replace the parents at school. That’s not how this works,” he continued. 

Jackson responded, “There is a reason why one of the largest homeless populations is LGBT young people. That’s because they have been kicked out of their homes by their parents…There is clear harm that is done to people…because a parent believes they have to be punished for being that way.” He goes on to argue that forcing children to “come out” to their parents due to a parental notification policy could put them in danger. 

The California Family Council (CFC) stands firmly with Assemblyman Bill Essayli in advocating for parental rights and transparency in education. “We believe parents are the primary educators and protectors of their children and should be informed about significant aspects of their child’s life,” said Greg Burt, Vice President of CFC. “In matters as serious as gender identity, which can have lifelong implications, parental guidance is both a right and a responsibility. The state and school districts should not usurp this parental role, but rather work in partnership with families for the well-being of the students.”



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