‘Assemblyman Muratsuchi is not doing his job by refusing to even hear this bill’
A bill to require schools to notify parents within three days if their child begins to identify as a gender not on their birth certificate or other records was held in the Assembly Education Committee on Monday, denying the bill a hearing and leaving its future uncertain.
Assembly Bill 1314, co-authored by Assemblymen Bill Essayli (R-Corona) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) would provide that a parent or guardian has the right to be notified in writing within 3 days from the date any teacher, counselor, or employee of the school becomes aware that a pupil is identifying at school as a gender that does not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth. Notification of a parent would also apply if the pupil in question is in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, or using facilities that do not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth.
The Assemblymen wrote the bill due to recent lawsuits, including one in Chico, where school districts allegedly secretly transitioned a student without notifying their parents. AB 1314 would reaffirm parental rights in knowing what is happening with their children
“AB 1314 is simple and straightforward; if a child requests to be publicly addressed by a gender pronoun other than their sex at birth, or to use facilities of a different gender, a parent must be notified,” said Assemblyman Essayli last month. “Public policy should never presume a parent does not have the best interest for their child- however policies at schools across the state do just that. My bill will reset the appropriate relationship between educators and parents, and reaffirm that children are the domain of their parents, not the government.”
Assemblyman Gallagher added that “Parents should never be left out of their child’s education and development and this outrageous policy of allowing secret gender transitions at school must end.”
In addition, the Assemblymen pointed to studies that showed that LGBT young people with supportive parents were far less likely to experience depression, making the bill a mental health concern as well.
Introduced in February, AB 1314 proved to be a divisive bill, with many Democratic lawmakers saying that school discretion was needed since the bill would force school officials to out students, as well as notifying parents who might be against the transition, leading to possible repercussions. Despite the opposition, enough support was there for the bill to at least garner a hearing, with many parental groups in favor of the bill.
AB 1314 denied hearing in Assembly Education Committee
However, before AB 1314 could even be heard in the Assembly Education Committee on Monday, Committee Chairman Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) refused to allow the bill to be heard. In a statement, Muratsuchi said that the bill would not be heard because it would be “bad policy” due to it outing students and that such conversations between students and parents should be private.
“All students deserve to be respected and supported for who they are, including at their schools,” said Assemblyman Muratsuchi. “This bill would require educators to ‘out’ a student to their parents, even when the student does not feel comfortable coming out, potentially forcing them into an unwelcoming or abusive home. As a parent, I believe that gender identity conversations between parents and their children should occur in a safe and private space. As Chair of the Education Committee, I will not be setting AB 1314 for a hearing, not only because the bill is proposing bad policy, but also because a hearing would potentially provide a forum for increasingly hateful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ youth.”
The LGBT Caucus added that not all transgendered youth would have understanding parents and could be harmed by having their parents know, with the Caucus even alleging that even hearing the bill would amount to it being a “platform for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that threatens the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth and empowers those who wish to cause them harm.”
“The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus strongly supports Chair Muratsuchi’s decision to not set AB 1314 for a hearing,” the Caucus said in a statement on Monday. “We support the vision Assemblymembers Gallagher and Essayli have of a California where all parents are embracing and understanding of all LGBTQ+ youth in their journey to find their authentic selves. Sadly, AB 1314 ignores the reality that not all trans or non-binary youth have such loving and supportive families. The reality is that LGBTQ+ youth oftentimes face harassment, isolation, bullying, and even physical harm from their own families. Additionally, we know that LGBTQ+ youth are being negatively impacted by recent debates and laws around anti-LGBTQ+ policies and many have experienced victimization as a result. The California Legislature should not provide a platform for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that threatens the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth and empowers those who wish to cause them harm.”
With AB 1314 now in limbo and a hearing now unlikely, many political observers noted that the Chairman refusing to even hear a bill due it it becoming a “forum” went largely against the spirit of the legislative process.
“Muratsuchi is not doing his job by refusing to even hear this bill,” explained Ellen Downs, a legal analyst in Washington who focuses on LGBT+ issues, to the Globe on Monday. “It’s not about it becoming a ‘forum’ or anything like that. You need to show the positives and negatives of a bill, then let Committee members decide to move it on or not.”
“Right now, there is a lot of state legislation and pending legislation regarding everything from transgender athletes and where they should play, to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This one is far more benign, as all it does would have schools inform parents that their child is identifying as another gender. That’s it. There are some concerns of parental reaction, but that’s why you have the bill go through the legislative process. You add amendments, like maybe have it be a meeting with between all three parties so that everyone’s reaction could be observed or something. You know, you make it more palatable.”
Click here to read the full article in the California Globe
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