Measure Passes House Requiring Parental Consent for Pronoun and Name Changes in School
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The House passed a measure last week that would require parental consent for student pronoun, gender marker and preferred name changes in federally funded elementary and middle schools.
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced the measure as the PROTECT Kids Act earlier in February. He said that parents should be consulted and notified when a student decides they want to change their pronouns.
“It says that parents ought to still remain the key responsible party for their children and that anything that is indicated for the kids by the local school district, the parents ought to have a say in it,” said Congressman Walberg.
The measure would also apply to students who want to change the bathroom or locker room they use, Walberg said.
“We’re talking here in my legislation of elementary school and middle school students, so young kids who really don’t have the ability to make decisions on their own that are life changing, life-altering,” said Rep. Walberg.
But some Democrats say the measure could be harmful to students who’s parents who may not be accepting of them.
“I certainly think that students should have some degree of privacy and be able to feel safe in their school surroundings. And one of the ways that I’ve heard this being characterized as punching down on vulnerable students who may be susceptible to suicide or suicidal ideation,” said Congresswoman Mary Peltola (D - Alaska). “And this could be something that just is the tipping point. And I don’t think that we want negative attention on children who are challenged and struggling anyway.”
Rep. Peltola said she believes the matter is a local issue that the federal government should not be involved.
“We have heard Alaskans say we don’t want federal overreach. This is a local issue. This is a local control issue. And I want to honor that. I don’t think that the federal government should be mandating on down to states and specific school boards what they should or shouldn’t do,” said Rep. Peltola.
In response to concerns about a parents reacting negatively or shaming a child that wants to change their pronouns, Walberg said that there are resources to handle that.
“Some would say, well, some parents may abuse their kids or shame them. Well, we have resources available to us with Child Protective Services and law enforcement that can deal with that,” he said.
Walberg added that the measure only applies to elementary and middle schools.
“When you get in the high school, there’s a significant greater challenge because kids are older,” said Walberg.
The measure was passed in the House as part of the Parents Bill of Rights Act which would mandate that school publicly post school curriculum, their books, school budgets and require parent teacher meetings. The bill is next off to the Senate where it is not expected to be taken up
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