The Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill on Tuesday that requires public school officials to notify parents if their child “self-identifies” as something other than his or her biological sex. The final vote came along party lines, with 50 Republicans supporting and 48 Democrats opposing the measure.
Known as “Sage’s Law,” the legislation (HB 2432) was named after a 14-year-old Virginia girl who became a victim of sex trafficking after her school concealed her gender dysphoria from her mother. As The Federalist previously reported, the chain of events began in August 2021 when Sage started identifying as a boy, suffering intense bullying and harassment at school as a result. Sage eventually ran away and was found more than a week later in Maryland as a victim of sexual assault.
According to a summary of the legislation, if a school official “has reason to believe” that a student “is self-identifying as a gender different from the student’s biological sex,” said official is required “to contact as soon as practicable at least one of such student’s parents to ask whether such parent is aware of the student’s mental state and whether the parent wishes to obtain or has already obtained counseling for such student.”
Under the bill, school officials are also barred from “encouraging or coercing a minor to withhold from the minor’s parent the fact that the minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex” or “withholding from a minor’s parent information relating to the minor’s perception that his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex.”
Among the Virginia Democrats who voted against Sage’s Law is Del. Danice A. Roem, a man proclaiming to be a woman who argued passing the parental notice legislation would put children’s lives at risk.
“Mr. Speaker, if the delegate would like examples of children who have been forced out of their homes … go down the street to [Richmond LGBTQ+ youth center] Side By Side, go to Virginia Beach, and talk to one of the youth homeless centers there,” Roem said. “If you want experiences, if you wanna hear lived experiences from the very kids who this bill would affect, go talk to the kids who were kicked out of their homes and who were beaten for being outed against their own will.”
According to the Daily Caller, Republican Del. Dave LaRock, who sponsored the bill, refuted talking points from Roem that “schools would have no way to accurately determine biological sex in opposition to ‘gender identity.’” He said, “It is very obvious in the school context that counselors would know a child’s biological sex, having a child that has been present in the school, perhaps participating in different sports, and who would then confide in a counselor.”
“So the student themselves would be likely to disclose, as part of that decision in the conversation leading up to it, what their actual biological sex is,” LaRock said.
The bill now heads to the Virginia Senate, where Democrats hold a two-seat majority (22-18).