Metro Weekly

Federal Bill Would Strip Funding from Schools with Trans Support Policies

Bill would deny federal funds to elementary and middle schools that don't seek out parental consent before accommodating trans students.

Sen. Tim Scott – Photo: Gage Skidmore.

A recently introduced U.S. Senate bill would withhold federal funding from schools with transgender support policies that do not require parental consent before changing a student’s name or pronouns on school records.

The Parental Rights Over the Education and Care of Their (PROTECT) Kids Act, introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Tuesday, would cut funding from elementary and middle schools that allow students to change their pronouns and gender markers on school forms without first obtaining permission from their parents. That means that faculty and staff would effectively have to “out” transgender students to their parents if a student wishes to have their gender identity acknowledged in schools.

The bill would also prevent transgender-identifying students from using restrooms or locker rooms matching their gender identity unless their parents consent.

The text of bill does not go as far as recent Virginia Department of Education “model policies” that require trans students to use single-user restrooms or changing spaces — which would appear to allow more liberal-leaning school districts to keep in place policies they’ve adopted permitting trans students to access multi-user facilities that match their gender identities, as long as parents are notified beforehand and consent to such accommodations.

Speaking with Fox News on Tuesday, Scott claimed his legislation is a “common sense bill” that centers the rights of parents in making decisions regarding the education and upbringing of their children. The measure is being backed by conservative groups like Parents Defending Education Action and Independent Women’s Voice, reports The Hill.

The latter organization has crafted model legislation to bar transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identity, and has pushed for a “Women’s Bill of Rights” that would effectively bar any recognition of transgender women as “female.”

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) have signed on as co-sponsors of Scott’s bill.

“Schools exist to educate children — not indoctrinate them. And a quality education requires input from those who know children best: their parents,” Scott said in a statement. “Sadly, radical and secretive gender policies have shut parents out of the conversation and broken their trust.

“My bill will safeguard parental rights, improve the crucial relationship between parents and schools, and ensure that children can learn in an environment free from activist ideology,” he added.

Scott’s bill continues the trend of conservative lawmakers around the county embracing the issue of “parental rights” when it comes to what children are taught in schools, what books they can access in school libraries (even if such books are not part of an official curriculum), and support services, such as counseling, that are provided to students.

Republicans have seized upon the issue ahead of this year’s midterm elections, railing against school “indoctrination” in order to justify bills that limit how gender identity and sexual orientation are talked about in schools. 

Scott’s bill specifically references transgender support policies that have been adopted by school districts in Maryland, Virginia, and Iowa that allow students to “socially transition” — meaning having their names, pronouns, and gender identity affirmed without pursuing medical interventions — without parental consent, in order to avoid prematurely “outing” trans students to their parents. 

“Regardless of their intentions, these schools are sabotaging the parent-child relationship and encouraging children to keep secrets from the adults who are charged with protecting and defending them — their parents,” Scott’s bill reads. “Children do best when their parents are actively involved in their education. School districts, activist organizations, and teachers unions must never be allowed to intrude on parental rights by concealing critical information from parents about their children.”

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