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CA Senate Passes AB 1955, a “Government-Imposed Wall” Between Parent and Child

Last Thursday, the California Senate passed AB 1955, a bill that prohibits school districts from enacting policies requiring parents to be notified if their child has asked everyone at school to use a different name and pronoun. The passage of this secrecy bill, with 29 Democrats voting yes and 8 Republicans voting no, marks a significant shift in the relationship between parents, children, and schools, sparking outrage among many who believe it undermines parental rights and jeopardizes children’s well-being.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson’s Fierce Opposition

Speaking at a press conference hosted by the California Family Council before the Senate debate, Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) did not mince words, calling the bill “evil” and an unprecedented attack on the parent-child relationship.

“In the nearly 12 years that I have been in the State Assembly, I have never seen an effort to damage the relationship between children and their parents like this one,” Patterson said. He argued that the bill would create a “government-imposed wall” that shuts children off from the love and care their parents can provide, particularly when they need it most.

Patterson’s condemnation of AB 1955 was unequivocal. “The state does not own our children. They have no business getting between parents and children, especially on something as potentially damaging as this,” he asserted. He emphasized that parental involvement is crucial during times of uncertainty and questioning, and excluding parents could lead to harmful consequences for the children involved.

Voices from the Faith Community

Pastor Brandon Campbell, representing Capital Baptists for Biblical Values, also spoke at the press conference, providing a faith-based perspective on the issue. He highlighted the bill’s contradiction to biblical teachings on family and parental roles. “Parents play the most vital role in their children’s lives. AB 1955 goes against the natural order. Anytime you go against God’s natural order, you will cause substantial damage, and damage always starts with the children,” Campbell stated.

Campbell argued that the bill’s language, which suggests that parental involvement could be harmful, is misleading. He stressed that parents are essential for guiding their children through difficult times and ensuring their well-being.

Erin Friday’s Personal Testimony

Erin Friday, co-lead of the organization Our Duty, shared her personal experience as a mother whose daughter was secretly transitioned by her school. Friday’s story underscored the potential dangers of excluding parents from critical decisions about their children’s gender identity. “My daughter had her name changed and pronouns changed secretively by her school without so much as a phone call to me because I was ‘unsafe,'” she recounted.

Friday criticized the bill for giving schools the authority to decide whether parents are safe or not, effectively stripping parents of their rights and responsibilities. She warned that such policies could lead to increased distress and confusion among children, potentially exacerbating mental health issues.

Senate Debate and Opposition

During the Senate debate, Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh voiced her strong opposition to AB 1955. She argued that the bill undermines the fundamental rights of parents and places an undue burden on schools. “The default assumption should always be that parents are acting in the best interests of their children. This bill flips that assumption on its head,” Ochoa Bogh stated. She emphasized the importance of parental involvement, even quoting transgender-identified psychologist, Erica Anderson: “Parental involvement is critical in supporting children through gender identity questions. Keeping parents in the dark does not protect children; it isolates them and leaves them without essential guidance.”

She highlighted the potential legal challenges that the bill could face, noting that similar policies have already been struck down in courts across the country. “This bill is not only bad policy, it is unconstitutional,” she added, calling on her colleagues to reconsider their support for the legislation.

Republican Minority Leader Assemblyman James Gallagher also criticized AB 1955, emphasizing the importance of parental involvement in children’s lives. “Parents must be involved. That should be the default because who more than anyone knows what’s best for their kids? Their parents,” Gallagher stated. He argued that the bill’s approach is fundamentally flawed and risks further eroding the trust between parents and schools. “This all started with the state of California policy out of the Department of Education, and that’s what we’ve been fighting back against. That’s why we need to stop this legislation from moving forward.”

Supporters’ Perspective

Proponents of AB 1955, led by Assemblymember Chris Ward and members of the LGBTQ+ Caucus, argue that the bill is necessary to protect the privacy and safety of LGBTQ+ students from their own parents. In a press release introducing the bill, Assemblymember Ward emphasized the importance of safeguarding students from what he called a “forced outing,” which he described as a harmful practice.

“AB 1955 is about protecting vulnerable students who are not ready to come out to their parents or guardians. Forced outing can result in significant emotional and psychological harm, and in some cases, it can even lead to homelessness or self-harm,” Ward stated. He argued that the bill ensures that students have a safe environment at school where they can explore their identities without fear of being exposed to parents at home before they are ready.

Conclusion

California Family Council Vice President Greg Burt encapsulated the opposition to AB 1955, stating, “This bill represents an unprecedented overreach by the government into the sacred bond between parents and their children. Parents have a God-given responsibility to guide and protect their children, especially during times of confusion and vulnerability. AB 1955 not only undermines this fundamental right but also endangers the well-being of our children by isolating them from the very people who love and care for them the most. We must stand firm in defending parental rights and ensuring that families, not the government, are at the center of raising our children.”

As the battle over AB 1955 continues, it is clear that the issue strikes at the heart of core values and principles surrounding family, privacy, and the role of government in the lives of its citizens. AB 1955 is now in the Assembly. It remains to be seen if there will be a hearing in the Assembly Education Committee or if the bill will go straight to the Assembly floor for a vote by all the Assembly members. 

Call-in Campaign

Click here to participate on CFC’s Call in Campaign: Urge Your Assembly Member to “Vote NO” on AB 1955, a Bill Banning School Parent Notification Policies

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