US Senate Bill: Encoding the rights of parents of gender-questioning kids

On October 21, 2021, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced a new bill, “Empower Parents to Protect Their Kids Act of 2021” that will appeal to parents across the political spectrum. The full text of the bill is available here.

This legislation would prevent publicly funded K-12 schools from social transitioning (e.g, using names and pronouns, etc.) children under the age of 18 without their parents’ knowledge. This bill would also empower parents to sue schools if they did so.

Of particular note is the bill’s third point:

“‘[S]ocially transitioning’ a child is not a neutral, uncontroversial decision, but an experimental intervention that has immediate effects on a child’s psychology and a high likelihood of changing the life path of a child. A ‘social gender transition’ may make it more difficult for a child to reverse course later on, thereby increasing the likelihood that the child will continue on to a ‘medical transition’, resulting in life-changing, irreversible consequences.”

Peer-reviewed evidence backs up the point that social transition is not benign. Moreover, social transition and its implications may ignore comorbidities that may need to be treated first, including autism, eating disorders, and other mental health issues.

The bill explicitly carves out exceptions for true instances of abuse, which educators have a duty to report to authorities:

Nothing in this section shall be construed — to prevent a school employee from contacting appropriate legal authorities about an imminent threat to a student’s physical safety in the event that the school employee knows or has a reasonable suspicion that the student is at risk of physical abuse….

Moreover, if fully informed parents are on board with their child’s social transition, then the school can indeed proceed.

The bill is not outlawing social transition – it is outlawing schools omitting parents from an important health decision regarding their child.

Image credit: Michael Judkins, Pexels

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