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More schools are implementing policies that require teachers to use students’ preferred pronouns and many are also starting students on “gender transition plans” without parental consent or notification.
But some states are saying “no” with laws that rein in this indoctrination. These laws are designed to protect students and teachers’ First Amendment rights while ensuring schools are transparent with parents about their children’s behavior.
Critics of these laws suggest that they pose threats to students with non-LGBT affirming parents. Cody Schuler, advocacy manager of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, said a recent North Dakota law was a privacy violation “for trans youth who cannot be safe at home,” and that “creating a supportive working and learning environment also requires treating people with dignity and respect, including — at a minimum — calling them by the name and pronouns they want to use. These are both unlawful and discriminatory practices.”
Here are the most recent examples of these laws:
On May 4, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, R, signed a bill that requires schools to notify parents if their child requests a name or pronoun change. House Bill 1608 states that schools must notify at least one parent within five days of the student’s request. The notification must be in writing.
The law also bans teaching on human sexuality to students in preschool through third grade. Holcomb stated, “I believe in parental rights. I also just believe it’s common sense that sex education should not be taught in pre-kindergarten through third grade.”
The law’s sponsor, Rep. Michelle Davis, argues the law will “ensure Hoosier parents are in the driver’s seat when it comes to introducing sensitive topics to their kids.”
Davis added, “I continue to hear from constituents who are concerned about what their kids are being taught in the classroom, and that they’re being left out of important discussions with their children. This new law will also increase transparency by requiring that parents be notified if their child is struggling with their gender identity at school.”
On Monday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, R, signed a bill that will protect free speech in relation to preferred pronouns, stop transgender students from using the bathroom according to their gender identity, and require that schools notify parents if their child has changed his or her gender identity.
HB 1522 states that schools and other government entities may not adopt policies that require employees to use an individual’s preferred pronoun “when addressing or mentioning the individual in work-related communications.”
The law also states that a school board “shall establish, with the approval of the parent or legal guardian, a plan for the use of a separate restroom accommodation for a transgender student.”
Burgum issued a statement saying that the law “largely codifies existing practices while reaffirming the First Amendment right to free speech…balancing the rights and interests of students, parents and teachers.”
The Florida House and Senate have passed HB 1069, which implements numerous changes expanding the Parental Rights in Education law passed last year. The law stipulates that it must be the policy of every public K-12 school “that a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.” It also states that no employee or contractor with a public school can be required to use a person’s preferred pronouns if the pronouns do not correspond to the person’s sex.
Contractors and employees are banned from sharing their pronouns with students if the pronouns do not match their biological sex.
The law expands the ban on lessons on sexual orientation or gender identity from preschool through third grade to preschool through 8th grade. The expansion follows the Florida Board of Education’s expansion of the restrictions up to 12th grade. Senate sponsor of the legislation Clay Yarborough said that the bill “establishes a floor” in case the Board of Education’s rule was to change.
“Teachers should be able to spend their time focusing on skills that help a child succeed in life, not delving into every social issue or being forced to use language that would violate their personal convictions.”
Opponents of the legislation claim that it disrespects and targets LGBT people. Yarborough countered that “you can love and respect someone as another human being without agreeing with every choice they make or every view they have. We see that every day in the Senate.”
One Florida teacher who identifies as non-binary claims that “teachers will have to go back into the closet.”
Dr. Anna Margiotta, who uses the pronouns “they” and “them,” stated, “I feel like everything in this state is screaming at me to leave. I don’t know what I would do. I feel like I don’t want to just defy what the rule would be and introduce myself with my pronouns, but I don’t want to be referred to with she/her pronouns.”
She said when people use her pronouns she is “being seen as a human being.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, is expected to sign the bill.
It can’t be stressed enough: Get out and vote. State and national congressional influence in schools wouldn’t be nearly as necessary without better school boards. So, get out and vote, but not just for government seats. Vote for your school boards. Until then, legislation will have to be the resort.
These laws protect children and honor their parents. They also protect students and school employees from being forced to profess LGBT beliefs. The laws adhere to reality, no longer forcing citizens to go along with what is not sane.
Many critics of these bills continue to further the idea that parents do not have their child’s best interest at heart. They treat parents as hateful and violent enemies who will harm their child if they express confusion about their gender. What they really see parents as are obstacles to their agenda, who may not affirm the child’s incorrect feelings and stop them from transitioning. Schools do not care about children more than parents. It is not the place for school officials to get in between parents and their children, raising them up in their own belief system.
Proverbs 22:6 teaches,
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
It is up to parents to train up their children and oversee their well-being and long-term best interests. If teachers or counselors are allowed to impose their own values and ideologies on children when they are in their formative years, they can sabotage the child’s upbringing and undermine the critical trust between parent and child.
It is sad that such laws are even necessary, but teachers, school administrators, and school boards have crossed a line in recent years, arrogantly deciding that they know and love these children better than their own parents. These state governments are right to step in and re-establish that boundary, and more states need to follow suit.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.