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Proposed legislation would require parents to know child’s pronoun changes, hearing Wednesday

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(The Center Square) – The Arizona State Senate Education Committee will be considering legislation that would require parents to be notified if their child begins going by different pronouns from their biological sex while at school.

Senate Bill 1166, sponsored by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would also apply to the use of a different first name that is not their first or middle name on “official school records,” excluding “commonly associated” nicknames.

In addition, the proposed legislation would make sure schools cannot force staffers, whether they’re employees or independent contractors, to use a student’s preferred pronouns different from their sex assigned at birth if they have “religious or moral convictions” against doing so. It would only apply to students who are under 18 years old.

Kavanagh told The Center Square that he ran a similar bill last year, Senate Bill 1001, that was rejected by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.

“Now, I ran this bill originally last year where it would’ve required parental permission to use a pronoun other than that aligned with the gender at birth,” Kavanagh told The Center Square. “The governor vetoed that, so this year I’m coming back and saying, ‘Well, okay, maybe you’ll respect the parents’ right to know and require that.'”

Hobbs lambasted the former version of the legislation in her veto letter in May.

“As politicians around the country continue to pass harmful legislation directed at transgender youth, I have a clear message to the people of Arizona: I will veto every bill that aims to attack and harm children,” she wrote.

The senator added that the reasoning behind the legislation is to keep parents in the loop, especially if a child needs additional mental health care.

“But if the parents are kept in the dark about their children having this condition, then they can’t get the help for the student and that endangers the student,” he said regarding gender dysphoria.

Critics of parental notification policy have argued that it could put children in risky situations at home if a parent is not accepting of their child’s gender identity.

The Center Square reached out to Senate Democrats on the Education Committee for comment on the legislation, but they did not respond in time for publication.

The committee hearing is on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Arizona State Senate.

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