Politics lately-I believe we can all agree-have been quite a bumpy ride.
Many have kept quite a close eye on things happening nationally- most notably, the presidential race, but this does not mean we can turn a blind eye to state politics.
This being said, LGBTQ+ Texan students could be at risk.
Texas state senator Konnie Burton has proposed that any policy in place to protect LGBTQ+ students, particularly those in the transgender community, should be accompanied by another policy obligating school staff to inform the parents of the student’s life at school, including their queer identities. Teachers who fail to comply would be faced with disciplinary actions, regardless of the child’s wishes.
“I am planning to file a bill that rewrites these provisions to make it unequivocally clear that a parent has a right to full and total information on their child’s academic performance, physical, mental and emotional health. Further, my legislation will make it expressly against state law for a district to adopt policies designed to undermine a parent’s right to know.”
This proposition, overall, is vague. Employees would be required to disclose any “general knowledge” to parents about their student, which, when we apply it to hypothetical situations, could mean a lot of things. This bill would oblige a teacher to answer to any parent inquiry with full honesty and all knowledge, which could be a big threat to LGBTQ+ youth with less than understanding families. This could mean a lot of negative repercussions for the student in question.
This, in theory, seems fair. It’s easy to hear the idea and think that it is indeed a parent’s right to know things about their child, but we are failing to realize there may be some reasoning behind why students would confide in a trusted adult at school before their families. LGBTQ+ youth may choose to express these feelings to school staff in fear of neglect, abuse, or shame at home, and by violating this personal privacy, we are putting LGBTQ+ youth in harm’s way. There’s no way to sugar coat the risk this could cause.
LGBTQ+ youth, statistically, are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide, and it’s something we should really be taking into consideration when addressing this bill.
For those with families unwilling to support their child’s identity, the risk is increased, as queer youth facing rejection from families are eight times more likely to commit suicide than youth who experienced little to no rejection.
Steven Rudner, the board chairman of Equality Texas, sums up critics’ ideas quite well:
“Until kids are not kicked out of their house for being gay or transgender, and until kids are not being beaten by parents for being gay or transgender, we owe it to kids to protect them.”