California State Assembly has passed a bill that will require family courts to consider a parent’s position on “gender identity” when making decisions related to the health, safety, and well-being of children. Assembly Bill 957, which was adopted with a vote of 57-16, will now be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for signature. Critics of the bill argue that it could enable the state to remove children from their parents’ custody if they have undergone a gender transition without parental approval.
The bill seeks to amend Section 3011 of the Family Code to include a parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender identity or gender expression as part of the child’s overall welfare. Family courts currently use the health and well-being standard to determine custody arrangements in divorce cases and to decide whether children should be taken away from their parents due to neglect or abuse.
Supporters of the bill argue that affirming a child’s gender identity is a responsibility of parents and that this legislation merely codifies existing practices. State Representative Lori Wilson, a Democrat from the San Francisco Bay Area, emphasized the importance of affirming children in her speech on the Assembly floor.
State Senator Scott Wiener, another Democrat from San Francisco, co-sponsored the bill. Wiener was also behind the 2022 “trans refuge bill,” which granted immunity to minors seeking gender-affirming care in California from laws in other states.
Opponents of the bill, mostly Republicans, argue that family court judges already have the discretion to consider a parent’s position on gender identity and that this legislation is unnecessary. However, with only 18 seats in the 80-member chamber, Republicans had limited power to prevent the bill’s passage.
This bill comes amid a recent lawsuit filed by a parent in the Bay Area who accused a school district and its employees of secretly transitioning her child without her knowledge or consent. The parent, Jessica Konen, alleged that the school district convinced her daughter that she was bisexual and transgender and even allowed her to use the faculty bathroom. Konen claimed that teachers encouraged her daughter to use a boy’s name, wear boys’ clothing, and read articles about gender transition while instructing her not to tell her mother. Konen went along with the situation out of fear that the state might take her child away but says her daughter began to revert to her original self when California switched to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The passage of this bill has sparked controversy, with many expressing concerns about parental rights and the potential for abuse by the state. Critics worry that it could undermine the authority of parents in making decisions regarding their children’s gender identity. Proponents argue that it is necessary to protect the rights and well-being of transgender children.
As the bill awaits Governor Newsom’s signature, it remains to be seen how it will be implemented and what impact it will have on family court decisions and parental rights in California.