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Kansas AG says schools must out trans kids to their parents — even without a law requiring it


Kansas’s far-right Republican attorney general, Kris Kobach, has ordered school districts to out transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming students to their parents, saying that failing to do so is a violation of parental rights.


Kobach is making the move even though Kansas does not have a law requiring this disclosure.

He had written letters last year to six districts that he says allowed students to transition socially without notifying their parents. Two of the districts immediately changed their policies, but four have not, he announced Thursday. The four are Kansas City, Shawnee Mission, Olathe, and Topeka.


“Some schools denied that their policies cut parents out of the picture, but the Attorney General’s letters quote the offending language directly from those schools’ policies,” his announcement says.


He also sent a letter to the Kansas Association of School Boards saying it may have promoted such policies. “Has KASB surrendered to woke gender ideology to the point of jettisoning both propriety and common sense?” he asked in the letter.


“A child changing his or her gender identity has major long-term medical and psychological ramifications,” Kobach said in a news release. “Parents should know, and have an opportunity to be involved in, such an important aspect of their well-being.” He cited U.S. Supreme Court decisions as legal justification for requiring disclosure.


But Kobach ignores that if a young person doesn’t have supportive parents, this disclosure puts them at risk of abuse, eviction from their homes, or other consequences.


He obtained the list of districts through a conservative group called Parents Defending Education,The Topeka Capital-Journalreports. The group “is a national grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas” and “fighting indoctrination in the classroom,” according to its website.


Officials with the Topeka schools told the Capital-Journal that the district “works collaboratively with parents and their student(s) to protect their legal rights while maintaining a positive learning environment for all” and “remains confident their regulation and practices comply with current laws as written and interpreted by the courts while protecting the legal rights of both the parents and their student(s).”


Olathe administrators told NBC News their district doesn’t have a formal policy on gender identity disclosure but has guidelines to be applied on a case-by-case basis. “As a district, it is always our intent and practice to work directly and partner with individual families and students as situations arise to ensure we are providing the appropriate and necessary support,” said a statement from the district. “We trust our staff to put the best interests of families and students at the heart of every decision.”


Shawnee Mission Superintendent Michelle Hubbard sent this response to Kobach, as reported by Fox News Digital: “Without citing any incident of a SMSD parent allegedly having their legal rights violated, you attack our Board members and our administrative leadership with the statement that ‘USD 512 has apparently surrendered to woke gender ideology.’ Use of the political ‘woke’ labeling as an insult is disappointing to see from our State’s Attorney General.”


There’s no record of a response by the Kansas City schools.


Kansas is a Republican-majority state but has a Democratic governor, Laura Kelly. Last year she vetoed at several anti-trans bills, but none dealt with the outing of students. The legislature overrode her veto of one barring trans girls from competing in female school sports and another that defines gender as fixed at birth. Kobach has used the latter in court cases arguing that the state does not have to change gender markers on driver’s licenses or birth certificates. He ran for governor in 2018 and lost to Kelly.


 

The Advocate, 2024

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