With childhood LGBTQ rights and parental influence in the classroom continuing to polarize Virginia school districts, one state legislator is making headlines about a 2020 child safety bill.
Democratic Virginia Delegate Elizabeth Guzman had promoted the bill, which “would have simply protected children from ‘physical or mental injury on the basis of the child’s gender identity or sexual orientation,'” Guzman said in a series of tweets on Friday.
Guzman took to Twitter to clarify the bill’s purpose and her stance after ABC 7 News reported that parents could face charges for not affirming their child’s gender identity or sexual orientation. “The way the bill was presented in the article was patently wrong,” she wrote.
The bill is making news now in the wake of a proposed model policy from Gov. Glenn Youngkin that would require transgender students to be identified by their biological sex while using school facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, or participating in organized school activities. Under Youngkin’s policy, students would be barred from using a new name or pronouns unless parental permission has been established. Some LGBTQ youth have said they fear their parents finding out about their choices.
The summary of the 2020 bill, HB 580, says it “Expands the definition of ‘abused or neglected child’ to include any child whose parents, or other person responsible for his care, create or inflict, threaten to create or inflict, or allow to be created or inflicted upon such child a physical or mental injury on the basis of the child’s gender identity or sexual orientation.”
“I worked in Child Protective Services and know 1st-hand how often LGBTQ+ kids are subjected to physical & mental abuse simply because of who they are. Many LGBTQ+ youth are kicked out of the home & become homeless if they are outed to their parents,” Guzman tweeted.
Guzman told ABC 7 that the policy is engineered to educate parents, not criminalize them, and added that families who may object based on religion can still follow the tenets of their faith while accepting the identity of their child.
“The Bible says to accept everyone for who they are,” Guzman told ABC 7. “So that’s what I tell them when they asked me that question, and that’s what I will continue to tell people. … I think that it’s extremely important that we show that as a community we are ready to accept each other for who they are and whom they love.”
For more stories like this, subscribe to our News newsletter.