Thursday, January 27, 2022

'Parental rights' bill could discourage abused children from confiding in their teachers

Imagine being so homophobic that you push a bill which could prevent an abused child from seeking help. That is what's happening in Arizona.

According to The Arizona Mirror by way of Raw Story:

Arizona Republicans this week lined up behind a measure that would discipline teachers and open them up to lawsuits if they don’t tell parents everything a student tells them — even if the student confides that he or she is gay or transgender. The legislation, House Bill 2161, would make it illegal for a government employee to withhold information that is “relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the parent’s child,” and specifically prevents teachers from withholding information about a student’s “purported gender identity” or a request to transition to a gender other than the “student’s biological sex.” The bill would allow parents to sue school districts if teachers don’t comply. 

A bill like this is shortsighted on a number of levels. The most obvious was how it could undermine a child in an abusive household from telling his or her teacher. This was pointed out during a Jan 25th legislative committee meeting:

Jeanne Casteen, the executive director of the Arizona Secular Coalition and a former teacher, worried about how the reporting function of the bill would impact child abuse. Teachers are mandatory reporters, and Casteen said that every time she had to report child abuse, it was being inflicted by a parent. Under Kaiser’s bill, she said, a teacher would also have to notify the parents — the likely abusers — that the child informed them of the abuse. “I keep hearing about parental rights, but what about the rights of these students?” Casteen said.

A very telling moment about this bill came during the same committee meeting when Rep. Daniel Hernandez, an openly gay legislator, challenged the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Steven Kaiser, about who exactly drafted the bill. Kaiser admitted working with anti-LGBTQ groups instead of educational organizations:

Kaiser initially said the bill was created via a “stakeholder group” and his “own inherent passion” for the issue. But when Hernandez pressed him on which stakeholders were involved in drafting the bill, Kaiser admitted he didn’t work with education groups or teachers, but with anti-LGBTQ advocacy groups — chief among them the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative Christian lobbying organization that has pushed numerous controversial and bigoted bills since forming in 1995. CAP holds sway with most Republican lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey, and is widely considered one of the most powerful lobbying groups at the state Capitol.

 “I know you have a long-standing (dislike) of that organization. I understand where the bait was in that question,” Kaiser told Hernandez, who is gay. “I’m not sure what education group I’d go to, because they’d be against this.” 

 Another stakeholder that Kaiser consulted is Family Watch International, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group. That group also has its fingerprints on another piece of legislation that would ban any books that have “sexually explicit” content and that critics say would effectively make it illegal to teach about homosexuality.

The Arizona bill is one of many pushed by GOP state legislators across the country. These bills seek to shut down discussions of race, sexual orientation, or gender identity in classrooms under the guise of 'parental right,' which seems to the new buzz phrase for conservatives.

But according to columnist Will Bunch, these 'gag orders' are mimicking 'McCarthyism.'

'Florida lawmaker tells homophobic parents exactly what we all want to say' & other Thur midday news briefs

Florida lawmaker tells homophobic parent exactly what we all want to say - THIS is why representation matters. There is nothing wrong with LGBTQ people running for office and thus being able to get into a position to amplify our community concerns.

Florida Senate Bill Could Ban Books With LGBTQ+ Characters - More about the above situation. Unfortunately this is a different bill than the one in the House. Good news though, there was a heavy pushback on the false information. Again, having LGBTQ office holders helps tremendously. 

LGBTQ Afghans face surge of rape, torture after Taliban takeover, report says - The struggle is real and worldwide. Keep our brothers and sisters in your hearts and prayers.