Delaware may require schools to out trans kids to their parents

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 file photo, a 19-year-old transgender teen, who declined to be identified because she feared for her life after receiving death threats earlier in the year at a halfway house, poses for a photo in Texas. Advocates say the nation's foster care system and homeless shelters are largely ill-equipped to house transgender young people, leaving them vulnerable to bullying, sexual assault, depression and suicide. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Public comment closes today on a Delaware bill that would require schools to out transgender students to their parents, and LGBTQ activists are asking for the bill to be withdrawn.

Regulation 225 was supposed to be supportive of transgender students. When it was originally written by Governor John Carney (D), the bill created an anti-bias policy for that included transgender students and a framework for dealing with students in transition based on their self-identification.

Republicans did not like the bill. One school district last month sent a letter to the governor opposing it, and the bill received around 11,000 public comments, mostly negative.

Conservatives said that it pushed “trans ideology” and took particular issue with the lack of parental notification in the bill, which they said “interfered with parents’ beliefs on how best to raise their children.”

“It got on the radar on the professional anti-LGBT and trans people organizations and it has turned into a proposal that would actually make it worse for a lot of trans students,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting changed some of the language in Regulation 225 in response to conservative criticism.

The bill would now require schools to get parental permission if their child asks to be addressed by the appropriate pronouns, change their first name, use restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity, or join a sports team of their gender.

The bill does not make an exemption for transgender kids who fear violence or rejection if their parents find out about their identities.

“Students should not be forced to choose between abuse at home or basic dignity at school — such as being called by appropriate gender pronouns or being able to use facilities that match who they are — simply because of widespread ignorance about and bigotry against transgender people,” said Kathleen MacRae of the ACLU-Delaware.

LGBTQ groups, who once supported Regulation 225, now oppose it.

“It’s our position that we’d better off without it,” said Keisling. “Delaware is such a positive state and has been a real beacon for [trans-friendly] public policy and this just isn’t.”

“If this regulation is implemented as written, we will do everything in our power to overturn it,” said Equality Delaware’s Mark Purpura.

Purpura said that Regulation 225 would likely violate Title IX, which bans discrimination in schools based on sex. He said that his organization would file a lawsuit against the law if it is passed.

The bill is similar to one being debated in Ohio, which would require schools to get parental permission for any “gender dysphoria treatment,” an expression that activists say includes any accommodation for a student who doesn’t want to follow traditional gender roles.

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