Rep. calls for parental rights in schools amid gender identity suit

  • Congressman proposed a bill to strengthen parents' rights in schools
  • Parents argue they have a right to be involved in children's education
  • Some argue students have right to privacy about their gender identity

(NewsNation) — A congressman proposed a bill Wednesday to strengthen parental rights in schools, sparked by a lawsuit filed against a northern California school district over a student’s gender identity.

A mother filed a lawsuit against Chico Unified School District in January, alleging that a school counselor helped her daughter socially transition into a boy without parental notification.

The issue has caused an uproar among parents, blasting the school district for upholding a supposed “Parental Secrecy Policy.”

“The parents should be in on the conversation, they should be aware of what’s going on,” said one parent at a school board meeting to discuss the policy.

“The parent’s fundamental right is directing the care, custody and control of their children. Yet it is my opinion that through the so-called ‘parental secrecy policy’, the district and state are attempting to disrupt, limit and even terminate those rights,” said another parent at the school board meeting.

The Chico Unified School District has denied any such policy, saying, “Chico Unified does not have a ‘Parental Secrecy Policy,’ nor do we ever try to change a student’s individual identity” in a statement.

In a letter to parents, the superintendent stated, “Chico Unified believes we have not violated the law.”

California Congressman Doug Lamalfa said his proposed bill will strengthen parental rights across the country.

“As soon as a child lets on that they might have a couple ideas about their gender, that the counselor immediately says, ‘Well let’s give you a name and we’ll hustle you in front of the other kids in the classroom and announce your new name and your new gender,’” Lamalfa said.

The mom behind the lawsuit against Chico Unified has joined Lamalfa in his proposed legislation to counter state policies about secrecy.

Secrecy policies are no secret in some larger school districts, including Chicago, where educators are not required to inform parents when students identify as transgender or opt to change their pronouns.

But in Indiana, a proposed bill would require districts to notify parents within five business days. Those against the bill claim it will “out” students who aren’t ready.

In Arkansas, multiple pieces of proposed legislation target transgender issues, including a bill that would not require teachers to use a student’s preferred pronouns.

Arkansas state senator Bart Hester argues it is a moral issue, saying, “We’re not going to put a teacher in some sort of moral compromise position where they have to call a young girl a boy or a boy a girl in their classroom.”

However, those opposing the bill claim it is an infringement on constitutional rights.

“It is really odd to argue, “oh, freedom of speech” when you’re already trying to get rid of my identity, you’re trying to erase me from my freedom of speech which is using they/them pronouns,” said Conway High School student Cade Durham.

In the case of Chico Unified, the student at the center of the lawsuit no longer attends the same school, and the mom continues to refer to them as a girl.

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