California lawmakers advance bill to ban transgender parental notification policies

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Via Andrew Sheeler and Jenavieve Hatch...

After an emotional, and at times testy, Senate Education Committee hearing Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled committee voted to approve AB 1955, San Diego Democratic Assemblyman Chris Ward’s bill to ban school districts from passing blanket parental notification policies.

Ward, though, had a different description for them.

Ward unveiled AB 1955 last week, saying the “forced outing” policies add to the “suffering and the challenges that LGBTQ youth are feeling.”

The bill has been a lightning rod among the right wing, with Chaya Raichik of the X account Libs of Tik Tok highlighting it and billionaire Elon Musk calling it “an absolute showstopper” in a post on that platform. He didn’t mean that in a good way.

Three parents of children who are trans, or who previously identified as trans, spoke on the Capitol steps against Ward’s bill.

”When my daughter was 13, she was secretly socially transitioned from her school,” said Erin Friday, a parents’ rights activist, attorney, and chief architect of the parental notification policies that have made their way through California school districts.

“I pulled her from the public school and got her the help that she needed, and she returned to comfort in her female body. I found out what the school was doing before the identity completely solidified. Other parents will not be so lucky if AB 1955 becomes law,” Friday said.

Parental notification policies require that school staff inform a student’s parents if their student asks to use a different pronoun, name, or school facility such as a locker room or bathroom that does not align with their biological sex.

Also in attendance was Beth Bourne, a Davis parent and Yolo County chapter president of Moms for Liberty, whose activism has isolated her from her trans child.

”I’ve always believed that it’s important to speak out when something is not right and when people are being harmed,” Bourne said, warning that, if AB 1955 passes, school staff will be empowered to hide information from, or lie to, district parents.

Wednesday’s at-times raucous hearing saw testimony on both sides of the issue, including Kristi Hirst, a parent of three who founded Our Schools USA in response to Chino Valley Unified School District’s first-in-the-state passage of a parental notification policy (several other conservative-controlled school boards have since followed suit), and California teacher Shaye Stephens in support and Aurora Regino, mother of a Chico Unified School District child who sued that district, alleging it hid her child’s transgender identity from her, and Dr. Arthur de Lorimier, a pediatric gastroenterologist at UC Davis, in opposition.

“The district’s job is not to protect the feelings of parents, it’s to ensure the safety of all students,” Hirst told lawmakers at the hearing.

Hirst said she has heard from many students who are afraid for their safety in school districts where parental notification is the policy. Nearly 1,500 people contacted a mental health hotline her group set up in response to the policies, she said.

Stephens said that parental notification policies place teachers in a difficult, even potentially dangerous predicament. Even the mechanics of notifying a parent are unrealistic, she said.

“Logistically, this is a nightmare,” she said.

The opposition argued that AB 1955 is a “parental secrecy” law.

“This drives a wedge between parent and child,” Regino said in her testimony.

Regino told lawmakers that if she hadn’t found out that her child was going by different pronouns at school, the child would probably still be identifying as transgender today. Her child continues to struggle with mental health, she said.

De Lorimier, who is not a gender care specialist, also testified Wednesday. According to his UC Davis bio, his practice focuses on gastrointestinal disorders.

De Lorimier testified that he has seen a number of transgender patients in his practice and that many just wanted to get attention tht they felt they couldn’t get in their sex assigned at birth.

After lengthy, and at times emotional testimony for and against the bill, it was lawmakers’ turn to weigh in.

Sens. Steven Glazer, D-Contra Costa, and Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, both quickly threw their support..

Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Yucaipa, at times choking up while she spoke, said that it was encouraging to see everyone in the room caring for children.

“Everyone is trying to do what they feel or understand to be best for their child,” she said.

Ochoa Bogh said that she felt that parents have a right to know about their children, and that no parent would reject their child if they found out they were transgender.

“They might not accept, but they will definitely respect that child,” she said.

That isn’t the case for many parents of trans children, as we reported earlier this month.

Committee Chair Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, disagreed with Ochoa Bogh in his remarks, saying that it “clearly is not the experience of many children” that parents are loving and supportive.

According to LGBTQ advocacy group the Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth are over-represented among homeless youth in America — nearly a third (28%) of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives.

Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said he felt that AB 1955 was punishing the majority of parents who are good.

“Sometimes I think we penalize the 97% of parents that are good to go after the 3% that are bad,” he said.

Ultimately, Ward declared all the con side arguments to be a distraction from the main point of his bill.

“It is not about gender dysphoria (the condition of feeling uncomfortable in one’s sex assigned at birth), it is not about medical decisions,” Ward said. “...This is about harmful policies.”

At the end of debate, the committee voted 4-1, with Wilk voting no and Ochoa Bogh abstaining, to advance the bill to the Senate Health Committee.


Via David Lightman...

Local unemployment rates in California were often higher than the national average last month, a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report said Wednesday.

Three California metropolitan areas had rates of more than 10%. El Centro’s April rate of 15.7% of the labor force was the nation’s highest local unemployment number.

Other state metro areas in double digits were Merced at 10.5%, down from 11.6% in March but up from 9.3% a year ago and the Vallejo-Fairfield area, 10.8%, up from 9.5% in April 2023.

The state of California had the nation’s highest jobless rate last month. The state’s Employment Development Department reported a seasonally adjusted 5.3% rate in April for the third straight month, though the number of payroll jobs grew slightly. A year earlier, the state rate was 4.5%.

The national April rate this year was 3.9%.

California’s continuing unemployment has several roots. Among the reasons cited by economists are reductions in federal spending, layoffs in the tech sector and slowdowns in consumer spending.

Some unadjusted local area rates were lower than a year earlier. The San Luis Obispo area’s unemployment was 3.5%, down somewhat from March but up from 2.9% a year earlier.

The Sacramento area had a 4.5% April rate, down slightly from March but up from 3.7% last April.

Many others were above the state average. Fresno’s rate was 8.4%, down from 9.2% in March but up from 7.2% the previous year.

Modesto came in at 7%, up a percentage point over the year but down 7.5% from March.

The nation’s lowest unemployment rates last month were in Ames, Iowa; Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Jackson, Mississippi, each at 1.4%.


“Justice Alito claims that the Jan 6 flags outside his homes were displayed at his wife’s insistence. Maybe so. But that is not the issue. It’s his insistence that he sit on cases where his impartiality is so plainly at issue. It’s his ethical judgment in question, not hers.”

- Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, via X.

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