Republican Texas State Senator Konni Burton has found herself at the receiving end of a lot of ire for a recent bill she's attempting to pass titled SB-242.
What does the bill do? It ensures that public schools cannot hide information about children from their parents, and subjects school officials to disciplinary measures if they attempt to encourage students to hide information from parents.
Burton created this bill when the Fort Worth ISD decided to pass rules using "administrative regulations" that required schools to acknowledge transgender students' preferred genders, and allow them to use facilities reserved for that gender. Using this method to pass the rules means that the elected board of trustees for the district were bypassed, and thus no forum was opened up for discussion with parents. That means there was no debate, or allowing parents to help decide the environment their own child will learn in.
"Parents, not schools, are the primary decision-makers for their children; their opinion and input is absolutely invaluable and Fort Worth ISD was remiss in not tapping into the wealth of their perspective and experience," wrote Burton in an editorial. "Involving parents should be the default position for any potentially controversial new policy of an independent school district, and unfortunately in this instance, it was not."
It should be noted that Burton's bill streamlines what is already state law. In Texas, it is currently illegal for schools to withhold information about students from their parents. Burton's bill simply reinforces these laws to ensure that school districts do not attempt to come between students and parents again, as they did in Fort Worth.
For parents, this bill is a common sense measure. A school that can enforce rules that would affect students a great deal, and be kept secret from the parents is not only illegal, it puts public schools in a position equal to, or even above the parent depending on the time of day.
But Burton and SB-242 have come under fire from many publications including the The New Civil Rights Movement, and even Cosmopolitan under the guise that she and the bill are attempting to force LGBT students out into the open. The bill's language does no such thing, and doesn't even specifically say anything about LGBT students.
Regardless, Burton has been dogged by anger triggered by the lie being sold by these outlets, and preventing discussion about the true meaning of the bill.
"The distortion and outright false portrayal of this legislation has prevented any serious discussion on an issue, which is broadly supported, as evidenced by the reaction in my senate district when parental rights were threatened," Senator Burton told The Blaze. "This bill does not target anyone and protects everyone while maintaining existing provisions related to abuse or neglect. Texans settle issues through the legislative process, but this vitriol being drummed up is preventing any kind of common sense discussions. And that is a shame."
One of the criticisms being aimed at the bill is that it forces students not only to be outed, but subjected to abuse by the parents, including "conversion therapy." However, it is also stated in the proposed bill, and current state law, that this is not true in cases of abuse. Burton even made this very clear in a response to a letter on her website that school laws "have an exception for abuse or neglect, which clearly calls for reporting without the knowledge or consent of the parent."
The bill is intended to put taxpayer funded entities in their rightful place, but this resistance to the bill under the misrepresentation that it attacks minority students is attempting to keep the door wide open for government, and public administrators to put themselves between members of the family. Burton and SB-242 are attempting to slam that door shut, and remind our public servants that they are servants, and not decision makers within the family.