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Parent Secrecy Bill Passes CA Assembly Amid Heated Debate

After a heated floor debate, the California Assembly passed AB 1955, a bill that reinforces the unconstitutional notion that children, no matter how young, have privacy rights from their own parents that the state is obligated to protect. The bill, passed along party lines with a 61-16 vote, now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature. Introduced by Assemblyman Chris Ward (D-San Diego), AB 1955 seeks to prohibit school districts from enacting or enforcing policies requiring school employees to disclose a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to parents without the student’s consent.

Key Provisions of AB 1955

AB 1955 aims to codify existing guidance from the California Department of Education, which tells schools they “must” get a student’s consent before informing parents about their child’s gender identity. If signed into law, the bill will ensure that teachers and school staff are not compelled to disclose information about a student’s gender identity, thereby reinforcing the students’ supposed right to privacy.

Assemblyman Ward argued that the bill aims to shield LGBTQ+ students from having their gender identity disclosed to potentially unsupportive parents without consent. “Coming out is a personal decision that includes the right to privacy,” Ward stated. “This bill ensures that all students can share their identities on their own terms.”

The Debate: Safety vs. Parental Rights

The bill has sparked intense debate among legislators and the public. Proponents argue that AB 1955 is essential for protecting vulnerable LGBTQ+ students from harm and ensuring their mental and emotional well-being. They contend that parent notification policies can lead to severe consequences, including family rejection and increased risk of mental health issues.

Opponents, however, view the bill as a direct attack on parental rights, preventing them from helping and guiding their children when distressed with gender confusion. Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Corona), a vocal critic of AB 1955, argued that the bill undermines parental authority and the family unit. “Parents have the right to know significant information about their child’s life, including matters related to their well-being and identity,” Essayli said during the floor debate. “This bill forces teachers to lie to parents, eroding trust and transparency within families.”

Assemblymember Bill Essayli also emphasized that children do not have privacy rights from their own parents, arguing that the concept undermines parental authority and responsibilities. “For the first time in history, someone declared that students have a right to privacy from their parents. That’s not in any law, and that’s not in any case law,” Essayli stated. “Parents have a fundamental right to know significant information about their child’s life to guide and protect them.”

Press Conference Opposition

A coalition of parent and child advocates held a press conference to express their opposition to AB 1955. Jonathan Keller, President of the California Family Council, voiced strong objections to the bill, emphasizing the importance of parental involvement. “This bill creates a wall of secrecy between schools and families,” Keller stated. “It threatens the fundamental rights of parents to be informed and involved in their children’s lives, potentially leading to situations where parents are unaware of their child’s struggles until it is too late.”

Keller’s concerns were echoed by other speakers, including Chino Valley Unified School Board President Sonia Shaw and former teacher Jessica Tapia. Tapia, who was fired for refusing to comply with similar policies, highlighted the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by educators. “Teachers should not be compelled to lie to parents,” she said. “Our rights do not end at the schoolhouse gate, and our rights are not second class to any policy or law surrounding the special rights of gender-identifying minors.” Tapia filed a lawsuit against her Jurupa Unified School District in Riverside County for violating her religious liberty. The district settled for $360,000. 

Assembly Floor Debate Highlights

The Assembly floor debate over AB 1955 was marked by emotional testimonies and heated exchanges. Assemblymember Joe Patterson (R-Rocklin) criticized the bill for mischaracterizing local parental notification policies as forced outings. He argued that these policies only come into play when a student requests official changes to their school records, such as a name or gender change, and do not involve disclosing casual conversations or exploratory questions about gender identity.

Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell), a member of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, shared his personal experience in an attempt to argue how students need privacy from their own parents. “When I was growing up, my mother told me she would disown me if I was gay,” Low recounted. “This bill ensures that children can come out to their parents on their own terms, when they feel safe and ready.” 

Low failed to acknowledge Patterson’s point that no school district has ever proposed a policy requiring teachers to tell parents if a child is identifying as gay. The parent notification policies passed by ten California school districts only required notification after a student had asked teachers or coaches to publicly socially transition them to a new gender difference from the one listed on their official records. 


As AB 1955 heads to Governor Newsom’s desk, the debate over parental rights and student privacy continues to divide California. The outcome of this legislation will have significant implications for schools, families, and the broader community. The California Family Council, along with other parent and child advocacy groups, calls upon Governor Newsom to consider the far-reaching consequences of AB 1955 and uphold parents’ fundamental rights to be involved in their children’s lives. 


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