Delaware requires students to get parental permission before changing race and gender identification
- After receiving more than 11,000 comments, with primarily negative feedback, the Delaware Department of Education has revised a controversial regulation and will no longer allow minor students to change their racial or gender identification without parental permission, Delaware Online reports.
- The original draft of the regulation released last September, was written at the direction of Governor John Carney, who was responding to pressure from transgender students and the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued that the rights of transgender students needed greater protection.
- The most recent version of the regulation was open for feedback for 30 days and may be tweaked once again once that feedback has been reviewed.
The current version of Delaware’s controversial regulation has succeeded in making people on the both sides of the issue unhappy. The ACLU of Delaware claims that the requirement for parental permission will “sacrifice the interests of some of Delaware’s most vulnerable young people in order to appease adults who do not believe in protecting the civil rights of people who are transgender.” However, many parents still feel the regulation is designed to promote a transgender agenda and does not go far enough because there is “no requirement to inform parents of the struggle their minor student is having, resulting in a degree of secrecy in keeping the parents out of the process.”
Some Delaware legislators also voiced concerns about the regulation that prompted some of the changes. In a joint letter sent to Delaware Department of Education Secretary Susan Bunting, 14 legislators said the “regulations proposed by your agency are not authorized under the law and seek to usurp local control in favor of imposing a politically motivated ideological solution on all public schools. Just as disturbing, the proposed rules contain no student age threshold and have no provision for safeguarding parental involvement. As structured, these rules would allow the youngest of students to make profound life decisions without the knowledge or input of their parents.”
California may be the only state to have legislation on the books about this issue. The California law does not require parental consent. According to the California Department of Education, “Pursuant to the above protections, schools must consult with a transgender student to determine who can or will be informed of the student’s transgender status, if anyone, including the student’s family. With rare exceptions, schools are required to respect the limitations that a student places on the disclosure of their transgender status, including not sharing that information with the student’s parents.” However, the law goes on to state that the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act allows parents to release student information, which would seem to complicate the legal issues surrounding this issue.
The state of Minnesota has not yet created a mandate on this issue, though it has issued a guide for dealing with transgender and gender nonconforming students. For states without guidance in this matter, the National School Boards Association offers some suggestions on how to deal with the issue of transgender students in schools.