California Senate passes ban on requiring schools to notify parents of child's gender transition

California state Capitol building
California state Capitol building | Getty Images

The California Senate has approved a bill that would prohibit school districts from requiring school officials to share information about a student's sexual orientation and gender identity with the child's parent, drawing concerns from Christian and parental rights groups.  

On Monday, the Democrat-controlled California Senate passed Assembly Bill 1955 in a 29-8 vote. Support for the legislation fell along party lines, with all votes in favor of it coming from Democrats and all opposition coming from Republicans. 

The legislation includes a provision declaring that "[a]n employee or a contractor of a school district, county office of education, charter school, or state special school for the blind or the deaf shall not be required 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 state or federal law."

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The bill states that "policies that forcibly 'out' pupils without their consent remove opportunities for LGBTQ+ young people and their families to build trust and have these conversations when they are ready."

The measure comes in response to local school districts adopting policies requiring parental notification when it comes to such issues. 

Sonja Shaw, a member of the school board for the Chino Valley Unified School District that passed a parental notification policy, said that "if a child is asking for the school district to now call them by another sex's name or go into the other sex's restroom, we will notify the parents."

"No one's outing anybody," she said, adding, "The kid is coming out, and the parents have a right to know."

Since the California Senate completely revamped the original Assembly Bill 1955, which was previously passed by the Democrat-controlled California Assembly, to turn it into the Support Academic Futures and Educators for Today's Youth (SAFETY) Act, which exclusively deals with LGBT youth, conservative organizations have emerged as forceful opponents of the measure. 

Students First California, an advocacy group that seeks to ensure that "parents have a seat at the table" when it comes to their children's education, published a letter expressing opposition to the measure last month.

"There is a reason courts have consistently affirmed parents as having a fundamental right to direct the care and upbringing of their children," wrote Students First California President Jonathan Zachreson.

"Parents know and care for their children more than anyone else and are ultimately responsible for them in every setting — school, home, and elsewhere," he added. "Notifying and involving parents in something as paramount as when a school takes an active role in socially transitioning a child is critical for the well-being of children and for maintaining trust between schools and parents."

Expressing concern that the bill would do "the opposite by prohibiting schools from enacting or enforcing policies to bring parents into the process of supporting their own children and would strengthen policies meant to keep secrets from parents," Zachreson warned that the bill would "erode trust between schools and parents and further exacerbate enrollment issues schools are facing."

Citing state law, Zachreson noted that "parents of students under 18 years old in public schools have an absolute right to access all records related to their children and the editing or withholding of any of those records is prohibited."

"These records include the gender and name in which the child goes by at school regardless of if the gender or name matches a student's official government documents," lamenting that "AB 1955 would enable and strengthen policies that violate this right."

The Christian conservative advocacy organization California Family Council has also expressed its opposition to the bill.

"This bill assumes parents with biblical beliefs about gender and sexuality are a threat to their own children," the organization stated in an online campaign against the bill. 

"AB 1955 marginalizes parents, preventing them from receiving critical information about their kids. Parents need to be informed partners in addressing issues of gender identity, ensuring their children receive the support and guidance they need within the family unit."

The California-based LGBT advocacy group Riverside Pride signaled its support for the legislation in a statement released last month.

"As we have seen over the last year in the Inland Empire and across the country, efforts to forcibly out trans youth continue to threaten the rights of our students. AB 1955 is a significant step forward in protecting the privacy and dignity of LGBTQ+ youth," the organization asserted. 

"It addresses the critical need for safeguards that prevent the involuntary disclosure of a student's sexual orientation or gender identity, which can lead to devastating consequences, including discrimination, harassment, and even family rejection. Studies consistently show LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented among young people experiencing homelessness, with mistreatment, fear of mistreatment or being kicked out due to their LGBTQ identity being some of the leading causes," the group contended. 

Highlighting the "profound impact that a supportive and understanding school environment has on the mental health and academic success of LGBTQ+ students," Riverside Pride praised the bill as an initiative that "not only reinforces California's commitment to equality and inclusion but also empowers educators to create a more respectful and safe atmosphere for all students to thrive."

The bill must return to the Assembly before it can be sent to California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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