Calif. Bill Would Outlaw Parental Notification in Public Schools

Calif. Bill Would Outlaw Parental Notification in Public Schools

Lawmakers in California have proposed a bill that would prohibit school districts across the state from informing parents or guardians if their child wishes to change their pronouns or to identify as transgender.  

The bill, AB 1955, authored by Assemblyman Christopher Ward (D-San Diego), was introduced in the state legislature May 21 and passed its first hurdle May 29 when it was approved 4-2 by the Senate Education Committee. It will go before the Senate Health Committee next. 

According to the text of the bill, which is also known as the SAFETY (Support Academic Futures and Educators for Today’s Youth) Act, it would “prohibit school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, and the state special schools, and a member of the governing board or body of those educational entities, from enacting or enforcing any policy, rule, or administrative regulation that requires an employee or a contractor to disclose any information related to a pupil’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to any other person without the pupil’s consent unless otherwise required by law, as provided.”

 The proposed measure is a result of controversy that has been brewing in California since last year, when several school districts “in conservative pockets” began establishing polices to notify parents or guardians if their child identifies as transgender, according to the Los Angeles Times

Opposition was strong from the outset, beginning with the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD), the first to consider such a policy. Discussion at one meeting became so heated that CVUSD Trustee Board President Sonja Shaw asked Tom Thurmond, the state superintendent of public instruction, to leave after he at one point exceeded his one-minute time limit for comment.

Shaw accused Thurmond, who favors the bill, of “proposing things that pervert children,” according to an article on  

State Attorney General Rob Bonta warned the CVUSD board in a letter that parental notification policies are “potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities,” the article reported. Bonta later sued CVUSD after its policy was established, and the policy is still on hold by the courts.   

Many parents who attended the CVUSD meeting disagree with Bonta and Thurmond’s assessment. They say the state is violating their rights to lead their own children—a contention borne out by recent polls. In May 2023, a survey by Rasmussen Reports and Real Impact concluded that 84% of California voters would back a local law requiring schools to notify parents of any major change in a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or academic performance. And in October, a Center Square Voter’s Voice Poll found that 66% of likely American voters across party lines support parents’ right to know if their child changes gender identification or preferred pronouns at school. 

“The data clearly shows that California parents support transparency and accountable policies, making it mandatory for the school administrations to inform parents if their child is facing any of these challenges or lifestyle changes,” said Gina Gleason, executive director of Real Impact. “Parents are attending school board meetings in droves to show that despite what the education establishment thinks, children, their well-being, and upbringing are not the responsibility of the school or state, it’s the responsibility of the parents.”

Seven counties in California have now passed parental notification policies, and if passed, AB 1955 will be used as a weapon to rein those schools in and stop others from following suit.  

“Thurmond, [Gov. Gavin] Newsom, and other supporters want to roll back the requirement of parents being notified when their children experience gender confusion at school,” says an editorial in the Washington Stand. “They claim it will prevent forcefully ‘outing’ transgender-identifying students as well as decrease the risk of bullying.”

 But proponents argue that keeping such vital information from parents would be detrimental to students. Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for education studies, expressed her support for California’s local school board members like Sonja Shaw, the CVUSD president.

“Christian community leaders like Ms. Shaw are a great blessing to the parents of California and our nation,” Kilgannon told the Washington Stand. She said people like Shaw are “standing for the family preservation and honoring the fact that we are each made in the image and likeness of God.”

She added: “We must pray for her and those like her who answer the cries of parents and the call of God to protect children from gender ideologues in public schools.”

Above: Sonja Shaw, president of Chino Valley Unified School District, speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol in August 2023.

Renée C. Byer/TNS/Newscom

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