RICHMOND, Va. – A fight is raging in the General Assembly over parental rights.
A new bill will require schools in Virginia to notify parents if their child identifies as a gender other than their biological sex.
Narissa Rahaman is the executive director of Equality Virginia and worries it will create a lack of trust.
“If a student feels that their communications aren’t confidential, we worry that they’ll be less likely to disclose important information to school counselors or teachers,” Rahaman said.
The bill is named after Appomattox teenager Sage Blair. Her mother, Michelle, says if the school informed her of Sage’s change in pronouns, she could have avoided years of bullying and even sex trafficking.
“I tell her she’s not broken, she’s just scarred,” Michelle said. “She hopes that her story will help save the lives of other children. Sage does not want any more children to have to suffer through the consequences that she survived.”
Faith-based organization The Family Foundation agrees with Sage’s mom.
President Victoria Cobb says schools should keep parents in the loop.
“It is stunning that we have parents saying, ‘Let me into the life of my child,’ and we have the government standing in between a parent and their child,” Cobb said.
But Roanoke-areaDelegate Sam Rasoul says he will oppose the legislation.
“Certainly we want to be able to involve parents as much as possible, but this bill is really a nonsensical bill that is not the focus of what we need to be talking about,” Rasoul said.
LGBTQ+ advocates fear it will lead to potentially dangerous situations for transgender or nonbinary students.
“Our concern with this bill is that if students are forcibly outed to unsupportive families, that it could lead to something like that student being kicked out of their home,” Rahaman said.
But Sage’s mom continues to fight for parental information.
“Parents, you are not alone. This mother stands with you. We love our children more than any counselor, judge or teacher. They have no business teaching our children what gender they are,” Michelle said.