Lawmakers believe parents are owed the information regardless if kids are ready
Ohio lawmakers have proposed a bill that, if passed, will require teachers, doctors, and counselors to notify parents in writing if they believe their child either identifies as transgender or is questioning their gender identity.
House Bill 658, known as the Parent’s Rights Bill, was first introduced in May of this year by two Ohio Republicans, Rep. Paul Zeltwanger and Rep. Thomas Brinkman. These lawmakers believe that “parents have a fundamental right to decide what is best for their children,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The bill essentially requires any adult working with kids to immediately inform parents if their child is transgender or if they believe their child may be dealing with gender dysphoria, and further states any treatment of the child would be considered a fourth-degree felony if it happens without written consent of the parents.
“If a government agent or entity has knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex, the government agent or entity with knowledge of that circumstance shall immediately notify, in writing, each of the child’s parents and the child’s guardian or custodian,” the legislation states.
But these services, which can range from from counseling to therapy to eventual medical services can oftentimes be that child’s lifeline for adult support if their own family doesn’t offer that to them directly. And that can have far-reaching implications for these youth.
Alana Jochum, executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Ohio, told NBC News the bill could create an unsafe environment for trans kids, leaving them with no one to confide in.
“HB 658 is a harmful bill that takes aim at some of our most vulnerable — transgender youth — by forcing school officials to serve as ‘gender police’ and out them or risk getting a felony,” Jochum said. “This exposes young people to discrimination, harassment, and bullying.”
Research from the National Center for Transgender Equality found that transgender youth who had unsupportive families “were more likely to have attempted suicide and more likely to experience homelessness than those with supportive ones.”
“This unnecessary and discriminatory bill does nothing to support youth and families,” Equality Ohio statement. “We already have a legal standard of how we treat kids in Ohio––we treat them in accordance with their best interest. Period.”
Opponents of this legislation can contact Ohio House Speaker Ryan Smith at 614-289-8427 and ask that the bill not move forward.