Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is seeking to deny federal funds from public elementary and middle schools that do not first get parental consent before addressing a student by a different pronoun or name.
The senator introduced the Protect Kids Act Tuesday, requiring any school receiving federal funding to seek and obtain consent from a student's parent prior to changing the child's name on official documents. The funding ban would also apply to schools that don't get parental consent before addressing the student by pronouns apart from their biological sex or letting the student use different-gender bathroom and locker room facilities.
"Schools exist to educate children — not indoctrinate them," Scott said to The Washington Examiner. "A quality education requires input from those who know children best: their parents. Sadly, radical and secretive gender policies have shut parents out of the conversation and broken their trust."
This has become an issue in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, where teachers were instructed on how students were allowed to change their name and pronouns in school settings without parental notification or consent.
The training was an extension of the school district's policy regarding transgender students. Numerous other school districts around the country have had similar policies, and a handful of districts have been sued by parents after their child was encouraged to embrace a different gender identity at school.
The Fairfax County Public Schools program was criticized by Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who said "progressives in Fairfax County actually believe that they should lock parents out of their children's lives."
The Youngkin administration released new statewide policy guidelines last week detailing that school districts should only accommodate the preferences of students identifying as transgender with written permission from the child's parent.
"My bill will safeguard parental rights, improve the crucial relationship between parents and schools, and ensure that children can learn in an environment free from activist ideology," Scott said.
While a majority of Americans favor protecting transgender people from discrimination, Pew Research polling found nearly 6 in 10 (58%) support policies requiring trans athletes to compete on sports teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth.
The debate over what defines a man and a woman has made its way to Capitol Hill and state houses across the country. Republicans particularly would like to make gender issues relevant for the midterm elections.
Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party are more than four times as likely as Republicans and Republican leaners to say that a person's gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth (61% to 13%).
Democrats are also much more likely than Republicans to say society hasn't gone far enough in accepting people who are transgender (59% to 10%). According to Pew Research, 66% of Republicans say society has gone too far in accepting people who are transgender.
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