Colorado Dems Move To Require Public Schools to Socially Transition Gender-Confused Students

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
February 13, 2024

Colorado lawmakers are weighing legislation to require the state’s public and charter schools to socially transition any gender-confused student by adopting that child’s preferred name and pronouns.

The bill states that a student’s "chosen name" is a protected form of "gender expression" that schools must respect. How schools implement and enforce this mandate would be left to local districts and administrators, according to the proposal’s author.

The bill would be the first state law enshrining social transitions at school and has a strong chance of passing given that Colorado Democrats hold a supermajority in the legislature. California, which has led the way on pushing gender ideology in classrooms, has published guidance for districts to let kids change their names and sex markers on unofficial documents. However, it does not have the force of law and two teachers in the state successfully challenged their district’s orders that they adopt their students’ new gender identities without telling their parents.

Nationwide, the push to let kids socially transition at school has rolled out piecemeal rather than by state order. Some 1,058 districts, including 18,587 schools, instruct teachers and staff to adopt gender-confused students’ preferred names and gender identities behind their parents’ backs, according to a tally from Parents Defending Education.

The bill authors plan to unveil their pared-down version of what had been a more forceful proposal this week, one of these lawmakers told the Washington Free Beacon. The first hearing is set for Thursday.

"Our bill clarifies that all Colorado students have the right to have their ‘chosen name’ used as a protection of their first amendment [sic] rights," state senator Janice Marchman (D.), a coauthor, said in an email.

Critics of the legislation note that it says nothing about involving parents in the schools’ renaming of their children and warn that it would bolster gender ideology in the classroom.

"The lack of parent involvement and notification reinforces the current practice of school districts to hide gender transitions from parents," said Lori Gimelshteyn, executive director of the Colorado Parent Advocacy Network. "This bill silences and impedes the free speech and religious beliefs of school employees that cannot in good conscience abide by this bill."

Other coauthors include Democratic state representative Stephanie Vigil, who flipped a longtime GOP seat in 2022 by just 710 votes. Vigil, who did not respond to a request for comment, has said public schools can help dilute the "concentrated" power of families, and last year successfully led a law instituting gender neutral bathrooms in government buildings.

"I’m a survivor of childhood abuse and neglect and severe mental illness, including a suicide attempt and I’m running for state office in Colorado Springs," Vigil said in one social media video during her campaign. "My lived experience with all of that struggle is part and parcel to my public policy. It’s a major motivator for why I do this at all."