Proposed Bill Would Expand Parents’ Rights, But Critics Say It Goes Too Far

Some worry it could put LGBT kids at risk.

By Christopher ConnellyDecember 8, 2016 9:50 am, , ,

From KERA News

From the moment Senate Bill 242 was filed, it took less than a day before LGBT advocates were howling. The bill basically broadens and adds teeth to a section of the Texas Education Code that requires schools to give parents access to their child’s school records.

Chuck Smith of the advocacy group Equality Texas slammed the bill for putting LGBT kids who are coming out of the closet at risk if they tell a teacher, but are worried about coming out to their parents.

“If the student feels that they would be abused or rendered homeless by the disclosure,” to their parents,” Smith asked, “shouldn’t the teacher have the ability to consider that information in whether or not there would be disclosure [to the parent]?”

Smith said that under Senate Bill 242, teachers might have no choice but to “out” LGBT kids to their parents if those parents are asking about their kids. And that could have huge consequences: Young people who are LGBT face an elevated risk of being kicked out of their homes or abused, Smith said. One national study found 40 percent of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

“It would be backwards to force or require teachers to disclose information knowing that the disclosure of that information would have negative consequences,” Smith said.

Texas Sen. Konni Burton, who wrote the bill, said that’s not the bill’s intent. The Colleyville Republican declined an interview request, but sent a statement saying “the distortion and outright false portrayal of this legislation has prevented any serious discussion.”

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