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UPDATE, February 19, 2024: This report has been updated to include additional feedback from Frontline Policy Council explaining the group’s objections to SB88.

ATLANTA (LifeSiteNews) — The Georgia Senate’s Education & Youth Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to advance legislation prohibiting private school teachers from discussing “gender identity” issues with students younger than 16 without parental consent. However, some social conservatives in the Peach State are divided about the law’s ramifications.

SB88, the Parents and Children Protection Act, prohibits private schools from “implement(ing) any curriculum or instruction addressing issues of gender identity, queer theory, gender ideology, or gender transition, without first providing notice of such curriculum or instruction to and obtaining the express written permission from each parent of each child who will participate in such curriculum or instruction.”

It also requires public schools to “develop written policies providing direction and guidance to school personnel regarding parental involvement and child privacy on issues of gender identity and gender transition,” and establish that those policies must include that “(n)o person shall modify a child’s official public or private school records based on the child’s gender transition or a change in the child’s gender identity without the written consent of each of the child’s parents.”

“We worked in earnest to make this bill fair while still achieving our goal of making sure children’s parents are involved in a sensitive and often life-changing issue,” said Republican state Sen. Carden Summers, according to the Associated Press. 

“They are proselytizing this queer sex sexuality ideology to children,” testified Jeff Cleghorn, a gay former board member of Georgia Equality who rejects the extremes of transgender activists, in support of the bill. “Activists in schools have no business interfering with the parent-child relationship. Do not let schools teach kids to keep secrets from their parents.”

However, the AP also noted that “(s)ome conservatives say the law is a flawed attempt to regulate private schools that unwisely introduces the concept of gender identity into state law,” and “would let public schools override Georgia’s 2022 parental bill of rights, which gives every parent ‘the right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child.’”

That law declares that “(n)o state or local government entity, governing body, or any officer, employee, or agent thereof may infringe on the fundamental right of a parent to direct the upbringing and education of his or her minor child without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that such action is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by less restrictive means,” but does not forbid teachers from discussing any particular subjects with students.

A separate law Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed at the same time, the Protect Students First Act, prohibits classroom instruction on certain “divisive concepts” in classrooms, but sexual orientation and gender identity were not among them.

On Tuesday, Cole Muzio, president of state social conservative group Frontline Policy Council, said that SB88 would “weaken parental rights” and was being advanced “with the help of the LGBTQ lobby.”

Frontline Director of Advocacy Taylor Hawkins detailed several issues with SB88 to LifeSiteNews, starting with that it “presumes ‘gender identity’ as a valid expression,” frames parents as having a right to merely be “involved” in their children’s upbringing on such issues rather than having “all” parental rights regarding upbringing reserved to them as in the 2022 law, “defines ‘child’ at 16 rather than 18,” gives state and local education officials “significant authority” that they do not currently enjoy, and “seeks to cross a boundary of separation between the state and private schools” by dictating policies to them as a condition of continued participation in school choice programs.

“Under SB 88, the government determines ‘appropriate parental involvement’ in addressing a child’s gender confusion; decides if parents should be notified that school officials are talking to their child about gender identity; and decides whether a child should be referred to a counselor to address gender-identity confusion,” Hawkins said. He warned that “an activist judge could interpret SB 88 as an amendment to the Parents’ Bill of Rights—one that rolls back and limits the broad protections afforded by the law.”

The indoctrination of children with left-wing indoctrination on sexuality and other left-wing agenda items has long been a major concern in American public schools, from libraries to athletic and restroom policy to drag events to classroom materials to even socially “transitioning” troubled children without parental input. The influential American Library Association, currently helmed by a self-described “Marxist lesbian,” opposes denying children access to age-inappropriate materials.

The danger of public schools reinforcing children’s gender confusion behind parents’ backs is grimly illustrated in the story of Yaeli Martinez, a 19-year-old to whom “gender transitioning” was touted as a possible cure for her depression in high school, supported by a high school counselor who withheld what she was going through from her mother. The troubled girl killed herself after trying to live as a man for three years.

In recent years, these issues have helped fuel a parent backlash that has been credited with Republican gains in states like Florida and Virginia, whose current respective governors have taken leading roles in fighting back.