The California legislature recently passed Assembly Bill 957, a contentious piece of legislation that has drawn significant controversy. The bill initially aimed to require courts to consider a child’s gender identity when determining custody arrangements in divorce cases. However, it underwent an amendment in June that added a concerning provision: parents who are not deemed sufficiently “affirming” of their child’s transgender identification could be at risk of being accused of child abuse and potentially losing custody.
Republican state Sen. Scott Wilk expressed his deep concerns about this amendment, going so far as to recommend that parents consider leaving the state of California to protect their parental rights. Wilk emphasized that if parents love their children, they may need to flee California due to the legislation’s ambiguous language and its potential for broad interpretation. The bill does not clearly define “affirmation,” leaving uncertainty regarding whether parents must support a child’s desire to socially transition or receive medical treatments for gender dysphoria. The legislation also doesn’t differentiate between children’s ages or their mental health records.
The bill has now passed both houses of the California legislature and awaits the signature of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign it into law. This development is part of a broader trend in California and other states where parental rights related to transgender issues have come under scrutiny.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta recently filed a lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District over rules that require school staff to notify parents of changes in pronoun use, sports participation, or bathroom assignments related to transgender students. A local judge temporarily suspended the district’s new policy while the litigation continues.
In a separate move, Gov. Newsom signed a bill last year that allows minors from out-of-state to access transgender medical procedures in California without parental consent. This law also mandates that doctors conceal children’s medical information related to “gender identity” from their parents.
While proponents of such laws argue they protect transgender children, some studies suggest that easing access to medical interventions for adolescents pursuing gender transition may increase the risk of negative outcomes, including mental health challenges and suicide. These developments reflect the ongoing debate and controversy surrounding parental rights, transgender issues, and child welfare.