HALL MONITOR: “YES” on Parental Consent Before Changing Student’s Name or Pronouns in Kansas Schools (SB 207)

Name: Kansas Senate Bill 207, concerning education 

Summary: Protection of parental rights involving the gender identity of the parent’s minor child and speech protections for school employees. 

Status: Referred to Education Committee on February 9, 2024

Sponsors: The Kansas Senate Committee on Education sponsored this bill. 

Bill Breakdown: 

School personnel may not refer to a child by another name, or pronouns that are not aligned with the child’s biological sex, without express written consent of the child’s parents. Further, schools may not require employees to refer to another individual by a name and pronouns that are not congruent with the person’s sex if doing so “is contrary to the employee’s… moral or religious convictions.” 

Why does PDE Action support this bill? 

Our partner organization, Parents Defending Education, has tracked more than 1,000 school districts across the country with parental exclusion policies. These policies state that parents may not be informed if and when their child decides to use a different name or pronouns at school. Parents, not schools, are a child’s first and foremost caregiver. It’s vital for parents to be in the driver’s seat during conversations about their child’s mental health and wellbeing. 

The speech protections outlined in this bill are aligned with precedent set in federal court regarding the use of preferred pronouns; namely, that government entities, including schools, may not compel speech. Unfortunately, many school districts across the United States have adopted anti-harassment policies that require students and staff to refer to others by preferred names and pronouns—even if those do not align with the person’s sex. 

SB 207 would ensure that parents are involved in conversations about their child’s mental health and school employees are not compelled to voice a position on sex and gender that differs from their own moral convictions. The same protection should be extended to students as well.