This New Bill Would Require Teachers To Out LGBTQ Students To Their Parents

At first glance, this new bill proposed by Texas Sen. Konni Burton seems harmless. Using vague language, it requires schools to give parents "any general knowledge regarding the parent's child possessed by an employee of the district” as well as records "relating to the child’s general physical, psychological or emotional well-being." Do a little digging, however, and its intention is crystal clear: The bill would require teachers to out LGBTQ students to their parents.

The public knows this because Burton said herself that the bill was in response to a set of guidelines issued by Fort Worth ISD that banned teachers from being able to tell students' parents if they were transgender. Burton was against it from the start, working to successfully reform the guidelines. She writes, "I know that everyone understands the value and need to keep the family first, as they are the cornerstone of our society and our schools should never work to undermine them."

However, this most recent proposal takes things a step further, flat out requiring teachers to disclose information about students' sexualities to their parents, completely violating any trust or safe spaces the student may have found at school. As Teen Vogue reports, half of teens who come out as LGBTQ to their parents get a negative reaction, and this contributes to the 40% of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ. Coming out at home isn't always possible, and now Burton is actively seeking to make sure it's not at school, either.

In response to media attention, Burton issued another statement clarifying the bill, first emphasizing that, in Texas, parents already have the right to "full access to attendance records, test scores, grades, disciplinary records, counseling records, psychological records, applications for admission, health and immunization information, teacher and school counselor evaluations, and reports of behavioral patterns."

While the circumstances of the bill arose out of transgender issues, Burton insists that's not what this is about. "The focus of our bill has nothing to do with issues of sexuality and gender, and everything to do with how parents are treated by the government entities they fund," she says.

Burton writes, "No parent in Texas should ever have to fight for the basic right to matter in their child’s life again." Yes, but students' well-being should matter too. Period.

Refinery29 has reached out to Sen. Konni Burton for further comment and will update if we hear back.
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