What is in House Bill 1557 that opponents call “don’t say gay”.

Lines 67-78: Consistent with the rights of parents … establish procedures to notify a student’s parents if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring relating to the student’s mental, emotional or physical health or well-being and the Ability of the school gives a safe and supportive learning environment for the student. Procedures must strengthen the fundamental right of parents to make decisions about the upbringing and control of their children by requiring district personnel to encourage a student to engage in discussions or discussions with his or her parents regarding issues related to his or her well-being to ease the problem with parents.

This parental notification requirement appears to apply to any student, regardless of age or circumstance—the student might seek health services for gender issues, sexuality, depression, drug use, a parental divorce, or some other challenge.

Still, this bill was written in large part because activists are concerned about how schools are responding to students who question their gender identity. They argue that schools should not validate children who say they are transgender if doing so means contradicting their parents.

It’s unclear how strictly schools would follow the policy of notifying parents of any “change” in a student’s health services. For example, if a child casually approaches a counselor to discuss grade stress and also brings up another mental health issue during the conversation, would the parents be contacted?

A section of the bill allows school staff not to notify parents when there is a risk of “abuse, abandonment or neglect.” Counselors often struggle with how to balance students’ desire for confidentiality with the need to keep families informed of their children’s well-being. However, they argue that a blanket requirement for parental disclosure in all but the most extreme circumstances could result in students being less likely to approach counselors, which could demean what can be some of the most trusting relationships in students’ lives.

lines 106-109; 114-118: At the beginning of the school year, each school district notifies parents of each health service offered at their student’s school and the ability to opt-out or opt-out of a particular service. … Before a student in kindergarten through 3rd grade is given a student well-being questionnaire or health care form, the school district must give the parent the health care questionnaire or form and obtain parental permission.

This provision requires schools to establish an opt-out process for mental and physical health services, which could include individual counseling or support groups. It specifically targets the increasing practice of using mental health questionnaires or social-emotional screening to identify what students may need. You can ask students how often they experience feelings such as worry or sadness, and to what extent they enjoy school or have trouble paying attention.

Some parents may choose to do this precisely because their child is dealing with a touchy subject that causes shame or embarrassment, but educators say this may be the moment the child needs support the most. What is in House Bill 1557 that opponents call “don’t say gay”.

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