A controversial bill in North Carolina that would limit instruction on gender identity and sexuality in K-4 public schools and require schools to alert parents before any changes in their child’s name or pronouns advanced in the state Senate on Thursday. The bill has faced criticism from mental health experts, parents, and teachers who claim that it could harm the mental health and safety of LGBTQ students. Some believe that the bill could lead to students being outed to their parents without consent and force teachers to violate the trust of their students.
“My professional opinion as a licensed clinical psychologist is that this bill will make our children less safe,” said Dr. Sarah Wilson, an assistant professor at the Duke University School of Medicine. She added that schools would no longer be a safe place for children to explore their identities.
Chelsea Johnson, a North Carolina therapist who works with transgender and gender-nonconforming youths, said that the bill could cause confusion, shame, and psychological distress among students and teachers. She added that one of the main reasons students confide in a school professional is because they feel physically, mentally, or emotionally unsafe or at risk of harm for coming out at home.