Our view: Trans children deserve governmental protection


Photo courtesy of Wesley Hammer

Sydney Harper, Opinion Editor

Transgender students’ rights across the U.S. are under attack. A bill was introduced in July that would lead to decreased rights for transgender children and place schools in a position to forcibly out students to their parents. 

This new bill, House Bill 8170, was introduced by House Republicans and would withhold federal funding from any K-12 school that affirms a trans child’s gender without parental consent, supports a trans child’s decision not to come out to their parents, respects a trans child’s wishes not to out them to their parents or encourages a trans child or the child’s parents to pursue any sort of gender-affirming treatment.

Although the bill is titled the “Empower Parents to Protect Their Kids Act of 2022,” it does anything but allow children to be protected. The facets of this bill allow schools to out students to potentially abusive parents who will offer no support—or even harm their children as a result. School can be a safe haven for many children in abusive homes, and this would take that away. 

At The News, we believe these children will fall behind as a result. These legislators are willing to allow a child’s education to be interrupted rather than offering them support. Because some schools receive such little federal funding to begin with, these children will be at risk of either losing education or being forced to come out to their parents when they don’t feel safe doing so. 

Withholding school funding is completely absurd. Allowing necessary funding to be taken away because some students want to feel safe in their identities is completely outside the scope of what we elect our representatives to do. All children deserve to feel like they have a safe space to learn in. 

Although sacrificing a child’s education is terrible enough, allowing children to face danger each time they leave school is even worse. While the schools can avoid consequence this way, they may be forced to send children home at the risk of abuse and increased suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, 82% of transgender individuals have considered dying by suicide and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicide being highest among transgender youth. These numbers are staggering and could continue to grow if HB 8170 were to pass. 

Another issue with this bill is the threat of conversion camps and therapy. Many children will not only be subject to abusive homes but also the potential threat of conversion therapy. In some cases, if a parent sues a school board for affirming their child’s gender identity, the school may also be subject to paying for the student to attend conversion therapy. 

This form of “therapy” is used in attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in order to align with heterosexual norms and values. The notion that someone needs to be “fixed” through the process of conversion therapy leads to declining mental health and contributes to suicide rates. According to Statista.com, around 28% of U.S. LGBTQ youth who had experienced conversion therapy had attempted suicide in 2021. 

One of the most important things we can all do is educate ourselves. Parents especially should learn how to create a safe space for their children and welcome them with open arms if their child feels comfortable enough to open up to them. It is important to offer support to all children and demonstrate a safe and loving environment.

We also must advocate against this bill. While there hasn’t been much movement since June when it was referred to the Education and Labor Committee, if it does pass, we have to stand against it. Contacting legislators and showing them we do not support the bill. We have to vote because our votes make a difference in situations like this. 

Allowing a bill like this to pass would not only go against the wishes of the majority of American citizens—it would blatantly contribute to declining mental health and an increase in the suicide rates of trans children. Why should it be acceptable for the government to risk their safety and live in volatile conditions at home?