Konni Burton, a Texas Tea Party state senator, has proposed a bill that would lawfully require school employees to out queer students to their parents, regardless of the students’ wishes.
According to LOGO, Burton has just filed Senate Bill 242, which mandates disciplinary action against any school employee who does not disclose the sexual and/or gender identity of students to their parents. She was moved to draft this bill after her hometown of Fort Worth modified school guidelines to further protect transgender students. Faculty would no longer be permitted to reveal a student’s gender identity to their parents without their explicit permission.
Unfortunately, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick fought the implementation of these new guidelines, and school officials folded under his pressure. Burton, a supporter of Patrick, decided to compose a bill that would make it impossible for any Texas school to keep information regarding students’ sexual and gender identities confidential. Via LOGO:
“‘We found these provisions in desperate need of clarity and expansion,’ Burton wrote. ‘That is why I am planning to file a bill that rewrites these provisions to make it unequivocally clear that a parent has a right to full and total information on their child’s academic performance, physical, mental, emotional health, and more.’
‘Further,’ she added, ‘my legislation will make it expressly against state law for a district to add policies designed to undermine a parent’s right to know. No parent in Texas should ever have to fight for a basic right to matter in their child’s life again.’”
The wording of this deeply discriminatory bill— “physical, mental, emotional health, and more”—implicitly pathologizes non-heteronormative sexual and gender orientation. That is to say, parents should be informed if their children identify as queer, because it is, in Burton’s estimation, “unhealthy.”
Moreover, the very phrase “right to know” is deeply alarming. As most of us are aware, it’s not always safe for a child to disclose their sexual or gender identity to their parents. If passed, Burton’s bill will not only constitute a hideous violation of privacy — it will put queer youth at tremendous risk.
This is a bill to watch and to vehemently protest.