Ridley sponsors 'gender identity' instruction bill

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Jan. 30—District 6 state Rep. Jason Ridley, R-Chatsworth, is among six Republican legislators sponsoring a bill that would require schools receiving state funding to provide written consent to parents and guardians "prior to providing students in kindergarten through grade 12 with sexual orientation or gender identity instruction."

House Bill 1045, introduced to the Georgia General Assembly on Jan. 25, seeks an amendment to the Quality Basic Education Act.

"Prior to providing sexual orientation or gender identity instruction, regardless of whether such instruction is provided as part of a family life program, sex education program or other program, each school shall obtain written consent to attend such instruction from the parent or legal guardian of each student under the age of 18 years who is anticipated to attend such instructions or each student who has reached the age of 18 years and who is anticipated to attend such instruction," the bill language reads.

The bill's definition of "sexual orientation or gender identity instruction" would encompass "content and the administration of tests, assessments, surveys or questionnaires."

The bill text, however, does not explicitly define what constitutes "sexual orientation" or "gender identity."

One section of the bill indicates that schools would not be required to notify parents or legal guardians if a school representative "responds to a question from a student during class regarding sexual orientation or gender identity as it relates to any topic of instruction" or if a school representative "refers to the sexual orientation or gender identity of any historic person, group or public figure where such reference provides necessary context in relation to a topic of instruction."

If ultimately signed into law, HB 1045 would allow parents and guardians to review instructional materials prior to in-class instruction "and confer with the student's teacher, a school counselor or other school personnel designated by the school principal regarding any or all portions of such instruction."

Furthermore, the bill would allow "aggrieved" students, parents and/or guardians to seek "injunctive or declaratory relief" in superior courts "to enforce the provisions of this code section."

Assuming the "aggrieved" party prevails, the bill indicates that they would be entitled to compensation associated with "reasonable attorney fees, court costs and expenses of litigation" — but no actual monetary damages.

Another element of the bill would amend Georgia code to make each public and private K-12 school in the state maintain an official record containing information on students such as their legal name, home address and grade transcripts.

"Each request to change the legal name of a student included in such student's official record required under subsection (a) of this code section shall be made in writing and accompanied by a copy of a court order providing for the change in the student's legal name," the bill text reads. "Provided, however, that if the student who is the subject of such request is under 18 years of age, the request shall be accompanied by a written consent form signed by each of the student's parents or legal guardians."

Violations of that proposed amendment would also give aggrieved parties an opportunity to take legal action against schools — again, without entitlement to monetary damages, pending a successful suit.

The bill does provide an extensive definition of what constitutes sex — "the biological indication of male and female, including sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, gonads and non-ambiguous internal and external genitalia present at birth, without regard to an individual's psychological, chosen or subjective experience of gender."

Which is a factor in another proposed code addition within HB 1045.

"No school nurse, counselor, teacher administrator or other school personnel shall knowingly encourage or coerce a student under the age of 18 years to withhold from his or her parent or legal guardian that his or her perception of his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex," the bill text reads. "Or withhold from the parent or legal guardian of a student under the age of 18 years information related to his or her perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex."

Once again, the bill leaves room open for aggrieved parties to take schools to court over purported violations — sans the possibility of receiving monetary damages in the case of a successful challenge.

Also backing the bill are District 24 state Rep. Carter Barrett; District 100 state Rep. David Clark; District 3 state Rep. Mitchell Horner; District 11 state Rep. Rick Jasperse; and District 25 state Rep. Todd Jones.