Why California Schools Shouldn’t Keep Secrets from Parents


Over the last decade, California has been on a crusade to erode parental rights. By misinterpreting Education Code Section 221.5, commonly referred to as Assembly Bill 1266, the state is inducing teachers to withhold information from parents about their children. Specifically, it is permitting this bill to be used by teachers as a basis for barring parents from learning that their children have adopted new gender identities at school.

AB 1266 does not sanction schools to keep information hidden from parents. California law requires teachers to be open by providing parents with their children’s school records. Additionally, federal law requires transparency pursuant to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act which states that parents have “the right to inspect and review the education records of their children.”

These laws recognize that parents have the primary role of raising their children. Unless claims of abuse or neglect have been waged against a parent, schools cannot be permitted to usurp the role of parents.

Our Duty, a parent advocacy group, has sponsored a bill, AB 1314, that would reverse course and return parents to their constitutional position as overseers of the education, care, custody and control of their children. Our Duty, which is nonpartisan (but mostly comprised of Democrats), wrote the first draft of the bill.

Our Duty is not affiliated with any religious groups and has lesbian, gay, and bisexual members. Our Duty includes parents of detransitioners—those who formerly believed they were a different gender than their biological sex and who went on take puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones or underwent surgeries to pass as their desired sex, but later returned to identifying as their biological sex. Other members of Our Duty are parents of desisters—those who firmly believed they were a different gender but who returned to identifying as their biological sex before medically altering their bodies.

Epoch Times Photo
A children’s book on gender in Irvine, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

AB 1314 merely requires schools to let parents in on the secret—that their child is suffering from gender dysphoria or gender incongruence. AB 1314 grants parents the opportunity to support their child and be involved in the decision-making processes.

That’s it. AB 1314 does not require a teacher to use any particular name for a child, to ensure the bathroom facility used by a child comports with his gender identity, or to align a child with sports teams that have been historically associated with their biological sex.

It is natural for children to worry their parents will be unaccepting of behavior out of the ordinary, but children’s discomfort has never dissuaded teachers from informing parents of behavior that involved poor grades, absenteeism, or behavioral issues. The schools continue to involve parents in these issues, because staff members know parents are best-equipped to manage and support their children.

Why should parents be left in the dark when the issue affecting their child is as monumental as gender dysphoria? A host of best practices exist for dealing with this issue, and parents should have an opportunity to seek out specialists who can guide the process. School counselors who immediately presume that affirmation is the correct approach are doing parents and their children a disservice, as shown by the numbers of adolescents who go on to detransition or desist.

There are countless accounts of children changing their minds about an adopted gender and going on to drop their transgender identity. In the case of Jessica Konen v. Caldeeira (Union), filed in Monterey County, when the middle schooler left the public school, she returned to identifying as her biological female self. In the recently filed Regino v. Staley (Chico Unified) case, a fifth grader believed that she was a transgender child, but once she left the school, she too returned to identifying as her biological sex. Currently there are over 45,500 members on detrans/Reddit—a moderated internet site for those who are feeling regret and concern over their medical transition. The high number of people who feel regret over transitioning indicates that a trans identity is fluid.

Dr. Erica Anderson is a transwoman, California clinical psychologist of 40 years, former board member of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH), and former President of the United States Professional Association of Transgender Health (USPATH). She worked at the Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California–San Francisco from 2016 to 2021 where she primarily focused on children and adolescents who experienced issues related to gender-identity. Based on her years of experience, Dr. Anderson asserts that parents must be involved in decision-making when a child expresses a desire to socially transition.

Epoch Times Photo
A transgender student athlete speaks during a press conference outside the Capitol in Washington on March 8, 2023. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

In a recently filed expert brief, Dr. Anderson states that parent involvement is essential whenever a child indicates a desire to change their name, pronouns, bathroom facilities, hair styles, or clothing so as to match an opposite gender.

The reasons Dr. Anderson believes parents should play a role in their child’s gender decision-making include: (1) the surge in the number of children and adolescents who state they are transgender suggests that social and cultural issues are involved; (2) the new gender identity may not persist and social transition will have a marked effect on whether a young person ultimately adopts a new gender identity; (3) social transition is a psychosocial medical treatment; (3) minors with gender dysphoria need careful evaluation from mental health providers; (4) social transition for minors is not endorsed by any medical societies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, Endocrine Society, and WPATH, without in-depth medical assessments; (5) the number of children desisting and detransitioning is growing; and (6) no medical association has “endorsed school-facilitated social transition without parental consent.”

There are many minors and young adults who changed their minds about adopting a new gender identity once their loving parents helped them receive mental health assessments and treatment. And yet, California, through encouraging immediate social transitioning at the first signs of transgenderism, is encouraging schools to cement false identities. It precludes parent involvement in the issue—parents who know the mental health histories of their children, their past traumas, and their struggles. The state is choosing a course that can and has caused harm to numerous children.

Schools do not take the place of parents. Schools are in session 180 days a year, but parents are present 365 days. In all cases but a few exceptions, parents are their children’s best advocates and caregivers. They cannot possibly provide necessary support when they are purposely left in the dark concerning their children’s struggles.

We are told that children who are gender-questioning are more likely to have suicidal ideation. Therefore, to ensure their children receive skilled mental health support, it is imperative for parents to be alerted about any signs that their child is struggling with gender identity. School counselors are simply not qualified to manage dangerous mental health situations.

Epoch Times Photo
A woman reads a transgender children’s book in Irvine, Calif., on Aug. 30, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

To date, no data exists that shows parents typically reject their children when they announce a gender identity that does not match their sex. While there is an over-representation of trans-identified minors in foster care, no data exists to indicate whether these children ran away, adopted the trans-identity once they entered foster care, or were removed from the family home because the parents would not agree to medicalizing their children. However, we do have evidence that that gender-confused minors are being enticed to run. For example, Plume, an online seller of cross-sex hormones, encourages minors to run away to New York to get their hormones without those pesky parents’ consent, as does the recently enacted California bill SB 107 which entices minors to run away to California to avoid parents who want the child to mature a bit before embarking on an irreversible path that culminates in sterility. Our Duty works with thousands of parents, and not a single family has thrown out their child when he or she expressed a desire to adopt a transgender identity.

We urge schools to support AB 1314 and to recommit to viewing parents as partners and not enemies. To log your support, contact your representatives and the education committee for the state Assembly.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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