Roanoke, VA – A battle over transgender legislation in the General Assembly has come to an end for this session.
All 12 bills regarding trans people’s rights - including in sports and parental rights in school - failed in the Senate.
One of these bills is Sage’s Law, which would’ve required schools to inform parents if their child self-identifies as a gender that differs from their biological sex.
The Family Foundation strongly supported this bill - which Director of Government Relations Todd Gathje said they will continue to do.
“This bill really did make some great advancements in terms of trying to advance this issue and created a larger dialogue,” Gathje said.
He said Sage, who the bill is named for, is disappointed but hopeful.
“She actually made a comment to her mom saying that she finally feels like someone is listening to her,” Gathje said.
While the bill didn’t pass, Gathje feels confident about the future.
“We actually had some really great conversations as we conversed with legislators, senators, on those particular issues about making sure their parents are made aware that their child has started to self-identify as a different gender while at school,” he said.
Brandon McGhee, MSW, LCSW has worked with LGBTQ+ youth for years. Through Roanoke Youth SAGA, Diversity Camp, and in his job in social work. He said he sees firsthand how things like Sage’s Law could affect children.
“That needs to be on their terms in their way. And if you take that experience from them, that’s so damaging to a child,” McGhee said.
He agreed that parents need to be a part of the conversation, but not by force.
“It might be something that’s just well over your head, but that’s okay. Have the conversation. Be a part of it with your child,” McGhee said.
McGhee said he sees damaging mental health effects of children who are not accepted by their parents and peers.
“Kids don’t have mental health issues because they’re LGBTQ+. These issues are coming from how they’re treated in the community,” he said.
But McGhee said they know how to advocate.
“I get to see how smart these kids are, and how powerful they are. They can say all these things that they want to, but we have some really strong youth,” he said.