Legislation would require teachers to expose transgender students

Rebecca Keeler
Staff Writer

Assembly Bill 1314, which will require California schools to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender, was introduced March 13 by California State Assemblymembers Bill Essayli, R-Sacramento and James Gallagher, R-Sacramento.  

AB 1314, if approved, would trigger a reason for notification to parents or guardians if any school employee were to discover that a student is identifying as a gender other than what is on official school records, if the student participates in a sex-segregated school program or athletic team, or uses facilities that do not align with the student’s gender assigned at birth. 

“Only a degenerate flock of regressive evangelical conservative sexist misogynistic anti-science theocratic fascists would stick their filthy noses into other people’s business in this obscene manner,” John Bartelt, professor of educational studies, said.

Bartelt teaches a human sexuality class for the Honors Program.

Many Californians believe that converting school staff into “the gender police” will do nothing to improve education, rather it would add yet another task to already overworked school teachers and other staff members. The legislation also has the potential to be quite problematic.

“While we want to encourage good communication between parents and children, transgender youth are often faced with family rejection based on gender identity, which leads to an overrepresentation of youth in foster care, juvenile detention and those who are unhoused,” Zandra Wagoner, University chaplain, said. 

“To require teachers to share this with parents and guardians is to place trans youth in potentially vulnerable circumstances,” Wagoner said.

The state of California is a Democratic legislative stronghold, and a Republican introduced bill such as AB 1314, while unlikely to advance, is riling up Californians who still believe that all people have the same rights to privacy and bodily autonomy no matter their gender or sexual orientation.

“I believe that the bill goes against everything we have been fighting for as a state and a country,” Madeline Arriaga, Claremont resident, said. 

“We are constantly advocating for inclusion, equality and freedom,” Madeline Arriaga said. “This would be against freedom of choice and, ultimately, the First Amendment. I think this would send us as a country spiraling backward. At the end of the day, this is literally a hate crime against trans people and any belief that we could get this country to treat everyone equally.”

AB 1314 counters California’s anti-discrimination laws intended to protect LGBTQ+ students, which prohibits schools from disclosing a student’s transgender identity, even to parents, without their consent. 

“I feel very disheartened by this bill because California is one of the safer states for the LGBTQ community and one of the most liberal, and it feels like we are just going backward with this bill,” Melody Arriaga, senior biology major, said. 

Since 2008, Democrats in California have consistently gotten at least 60% of the vote in major elections.

“We were the first state to ban gay panic and transgender defense and murder trials, and now we are going backwards again,” Melody Arriaga said. “I just feel like this bill is going to cause more pain and suffering than it would be useful.”

Disclosing a student’s transgender identity means that they are more likely to be harassed and bullied and violate the student’s constitutional right to privacy.

“Not a lot of people’s parents are understanding, and it is very difficult for children to tell their parents something when they are not ready and want to,” Melody Arriaga said.

“The bill is just going to increase the homeless number of children,” she said. “We already see an increase within the LGBTQ+ community, so it is just going to further increase that and endanger more children because their parents may not be understanding or accepting of them.” 

According to a 2022 national survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health by the Trevor Project, only one in three transgender and nonbinary youths feel that their home is supportive. Therefore, in the eyes of many Californians, AB 1314 acts as a way to punish students who express gender nonconforming behavior. Many believe that such a bill has no place in California or anywhere else for that matter. 

“Personally, I think it is no one’s business but their own,” Melody Arriaga said. “Forcing to out someone is just such a terrible idea, and it will be detrimental to the children’s mental health.” 

For more information on AB 1314, visit the California Legislative Information website.  

Rebecca Keeler can be reached at rebecca.keeler@laverne.edu.

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