Teaching of gender in Georgia private schools would be regulated under revived Senate bill

A Georgia Senate committee is advancing a long-stalled proposal aimed at stopping private school teachers from talking to students about gender identity without parental permission, but both gay rights groups and some religious conservatives remain opposed to the bill.

Senate Bill 88, which majority Republicans on Tuesday passed out of the Senate Education and Youth Committee on a party-line vote, now says private schools would have to obtain written permission from all parents before instruction “addressing issues of gender identity, queer theory, gender ideology, or gender transition.”

“We worked in earnest to make this bill fair while still achieving our goal of making sure children’s parents are involved in a sensitive and often life-changing issue,” said Sen. Carden Summers, a Cordele Republican.

Liberal opponents say the measure, which goes to the full Senate for more debate, remains a thinly veiled attack on LGBTQ+ students.

“There has been no evidence presented that kids are being taught gender identity issues in school that would lead to any kind of confusion or coercion,” Jeff Graham, executive director of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Georgia Equality, said after the hearing.

Some conservatives say the law is a flawed attempt to regulate private schools that unwisely introduces the concept of gender identity into state law. They also say it would let public schools override Georgia’s 2022 parental bill of rights, which gives every parent “the right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child.”

Some gay people testified in favor of the bill Tuesday, saying that transgender activists don’t represent them.

“They are proselytizing this queer sex sexuality ideology to children,” said Jeff Cleghorn, a former board member of Georgia Equality. “Activists in schools have no business interfering with the parent-child relationship. Do not let schools teach kids to keep secrets from their parents.”

Graham said proponents like Cleghorn don’t represent a majority opinion in their community.

Committee Chairman Clint Dixon, a Buford Republican, didn’t let opponents testify, which Democratic Sen. Elena Parent of Atlanta said was “really a black eye on moving ahead on this.”

The measure requires public schools to create policies by Jan. 1, 2025, that would determine how the schools would handle issues of gender identity or a child wanting to dress as a different gender or use a different name.

Public schools that violate the law would have their state aid withheld and be banned from participating in the Georgia High School Association, the state’s main athletic and extracurricular body. Private schools that violate the law would be banned from getting state money provided by vouchers for children with special educational needs. Public school teachers and administrators would be threatened with the loss of their state teaching license.

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Republished with permission from The Associated Press.




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