Arizona bill would require teachers to get parental permission to use students’ ‘preferred pronouns’

Republican Arizona State Senator-Elect John Kavanagh is proposing a bill that will require permission from parents in order for teachers and other school employees to use a student’s preferred pronouns that do not reflect their biological sex.

“An employee or independent contractor of a school district or charter school may not knowingly address, identify or refer to a student who is under eighteen years of age by a pronoun that differs from the pronoun that aligns with the student’s biological sex unless the school district or charter school receives written permission from the student’s parent,” the legislation asserts.

The proposal goes on to state that school districts and charter schools may not demand that employees refer to an individual with pronouns that do not properly reflect that individual’s biological sex if doing so would violate the worker’s religious or moral beliefs.

Kavanagh also plans to include a provision that requires parental consent for teachers to refer to pupils using a name other than a student’s given name, according to the Arizona Mirror.

“Under my bill, you can call a person by a different pronoun or you can even call the person by a name associated with the opposite biological gender, so long as the parents have given permission,” Kavanagh commented, according to the media outlet.

“Transgender students are often under psychological stress,” he noted. “In fact, there’s a term … called gender dysphoria and that type of condition needs parental assistance and perhaps even medical attention that the parents refer the student to. This cannot happen if the school keeps the parents in the dark.”

Should the measure be approved in the state legislature next year, it’s almost a certainty that Arizona Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who will become the state’s new governor, would oppose it.

“I’m not willing to assume that Gov. Hobbs would want to keep parents in the dark, especially when the children have a condition that results overall in higher suicide rates,” Kavanagh remarked. “I think parents need to know, they need to get help for the children (and) counseling. I’m not going to assume the governor would oppose that.”

Bridget Sharpe, who is the director of the state chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, which is a pro-LGBT advocacy organization, is adamantly opposed to the proposal.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that Senator-Elect John Kavanagh and his extremist allies have chosen to prioritize attacking children and their families as their first priority for this session,” Sharpe said via a statement, according to the Arizona Mirror. “By introducing SB1001 they are simply using their power to ostracize children for their pronouns… With so many other real, not made-up issues plaguing Arizonans, this piece of legislation shows the point of their politics is simply cruelty, not legislating.”

Tami Staas, who is the executive director of Arizona Trans Youth and Parent Organization claims the bill has the potential to worsen outcomes for trans youth across the state.

“Trans and non-binary youth have a significantly higher rate of suicide than their peers as the data and research has shown,” Staas said in an emailed statement to the Arizona Mirror. “I would think (Senator-Elect) Kavanagh would want to protect the vulnerable children of Arizona instead of putting them at higher risk as this law would do.”

So far, two people have been listed on the Arizona State Legislature website who are opposed to the measure, including Bobby Bauders, the current Vice President of the Apache Junction Unified School District in Pinal County, Arizona according to Fox News.

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