Tell WV Senators to oppose SB 515!
Members of the Senate Education Committee will consider a bill next week that would force teachers across our state to out their transgender students without their permission. The bill, Senate Bill 515, was added to the committee’s agenda for a meeting on Tuesday, February 6. This bill could harm countless students.
The time to act is right now. Can you take 2 minutes to email members of the committee and ask them to oppose SB 515? Scroll to the bottom of this page to use our form and email every committee member.
WHAT THE BILL DOES
Essentially, the bill requires teachers to report to school administrators any time a student requests to be called a new name or to use different pronouns in class. Then, school administrators are required to notify the student’s parents or guardians. In most cases, transgender students are talking to their parents about their gender identity, and educators can help encourage them to begin those conversations. Our teachers are not intentionally trying to hide this information from parents. But not all parents are accepting.
This bill could create a life-threatening situation for transgender students who live in unsupportive homes. Teachers would be forced to out their students even if they have strong reason to believe that doing so would result in the student experiencing physical or emotional abuse at home. Or, some transgender youth may be kicked out of their homes altogether. In cases like these, a teacher would be faced with choosing between following this new law or putting their student’s life at risk.
By forcing teachers to out every single one of their transgender students, teachers will lose valuable and necessary trust with their students. It’s no secret that transgender students face higher rates of bullying and harassment, and without a trusted adult to report this harassment to, they will suffer even more.
The bill is cleverly designed to mimic the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law adopted by the state of Florida under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ leadership. It seeks to eliminate any mention of LGBTQ+ people from public schools, and we’ve already seen how bad a law like that can be. Florida’s new law resulted in sweeping censorship, book banning, rainbow Safe Space stickers being peeled from classroom windows, districts refusing to recognize LGBTQ History Month, and LGBTQ families preparing to leave the state altogether.