Revived Senate bill would regulate teaching of gender in Georgia’s private schools

A Georgia Senate committee is pushing forward with a long-stalled bill that is aimed at stopping private school teachers from talking to students about gender identity, without permission from parents.

Senate Bill 88 moved out of committee along party lines on Tuesday and has opposition from not only gay rights groups but also some religious conservative groups.

The bill now says private schools would have to obtain written permission from all parents before instruction “addressing issues of gender identity, queer theory, gender ideology, or gender transition.”

“We worked in earnest to make this bill fair while still achieving our goal of making sure children’s parents are involved in a sensitive and often life-changing issue,” said Sen. Carden Summers, a Cordele Republican.

Liberal opponents say the measure remains a thinly veiled attack on LGBTQ+ students.

“There has been no evidence presented that kids are being taught gender identity issues in school that would lead to any kind of confusion or coercion,” Jeff Graham, executive director of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Georgia Equality, said after the hearing.

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Some conservatives say the law is a flawed attempt to regulate private schools that unwisely introduces the concept of gender identity into state law. They also say it would let public schools override Georgia’s 2022 parental bill of rights, which gives every parent “the right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child.”

The measure requires public schools to create policies by Jan. 1, 2025, that would determine how the schools would handle issues of gender identity or a child wanting to dress as a different gender or use a different name.

Public schools that violate the law would have their state aid withheld and be banned from participating in the Georgia High School Association, the state’s main athletic and extracurricular body. Private schools that violate the law would be banned from getting state money provided by vouchers for children with special educational needs. Public school teachers and administrators would be threatened with the loss of their state teaching license.

The bill now goes before the full Senate for debate.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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