The Roanoke Times gets it, perfectly.
This extraordinarily dishonest bill, initially killed in committee on a tie vote, has been reconsidered with substitute language that would require either express written permission or an opportunity for parents to opt their children out of individual clubs.
Claims that this bill is not intended to target Gay/Straight Alliances are laughable. See this statement by the bill’s patron, Matt Lohr, and this one, from the Some Families Foundation. Same garbage, different year.
This is still a bad bill, for the same reasons it was a bad bill before: It intentionally denies support and information to the youth who need it the most – the ones who are afraid to talk to their parents about their sexuality. It would do precisely the opposite of its stated intention of “involving parents,” since, as pointed out in the editorial below, students seek advice from GSAs about how to involve their parents.
Here’s what you can do. It will now go to the Senate Education and Health Committee. Call or write to these folks and explain to them what this bill would really do. Most of them don’t want to harm the most vulneralble kids in our public schools.
You can also contact them by visiting the Equality Virginia action center.
Also, please thank those delegates who had the good sense to see through the lie and vote against this stupidity.
Parents cannot veto sexuality
February 2, 2007
Now that gay marriage has been dealt with, the House goes after gay teens.
Once again, the House of Delegates has passed a bill masquerading as parental involvement. Its true intent is to undermine support for vulnerable gay teens, and it deserves the same death in the Senate as its predecessors.
The bill, HB 1727, sponsored by Del. Matthew Lohr, R-Rockingham, would require high schools and middle schools to notify parents what extracurricular clubs are available. Schools would also either provide a mechanism for parents to opt their children out of certain clubs or require express written permission for participation.
It’s an understandable parental reflex. Most parents want to know what their kids are doing and to have some say in the matter.
Traditionally, that sort of involvement comes out of good parenting. Developing an open relationship with children takes work, but it allows communication. The bill, its supporters say, would only give parents another tool to help it happen.
That’s the official line, anyway. The bill’s real targets are high school gay-straight alliances.
Many teens turn to such groups for support during a difficult time in their lives. It’s tough enough dealing with hormones and awakening sexuality. Attraction to members of the same sex in a state that all but condemns such relationships worsens the emotional and mental stress.
Gay teens often have a hard time coming out to themselves, let alone their families. In a perfect world, they would be able to do so freely, but many people, including some parents, still stigmatize gays. Working up the courage takes time, and that is when a gay-straight alliance can provide the most help.
Under Lohr’s bill, gay-fearing parents could prevent kids from seeking that support.
If lawmakers genuinely only want to make sure parents know their kids are participating in clubs, delegates could simply require a single permission slip for all clubs, not club-by-club veto. The current system is broken only in the eyes of those who condemn people based on their sexuality.
Virginia trusts its schools to ensure after-school activities are safe. The parental permission bill throws that out and creates legislative micromanagement for all the wrong reasons.