POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Bill would require Utah school districts to notify parents of change in student name, pronouns 

Jan 5, 2023, 3:18 PM | Updated: 8:00 pm
A bill that could make its way to the Utah legislature in the 2023 session would require school dis...
The Utah State Capitol is pictured in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Kira Hoffelmeyer/ KSL NewsRadio)
(Kira Hoffelmeyer/ KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that could make its way to the Utah legislature in the 2023 session would require school districts to tell parents of any child who wants to use a different name or set of pronouns at school.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, confirmed to KSL NewsRadio he is running the bill titled School District Gender Identity Policies.

There’s no text of the school pronoun bill yet. But according to Weiler, it will prohibit school districts from creating any written plan for students that doesn’t also notify parents.

He says that includes when the plan requires a school to use the preferred pronouns or name of the student but said it was “to be determined” when asked if the bill would apply to any other scenario.

“I’m not saying that if a teacher finds out if a student is trans[gender] that they have to notify the parents,” said Weiler. “The trigger is, once a school district adopts a policy that we’re going to change a name, they can’t keep that secret from the parents.”

Weiler said his proposed school pronouns bill is in response to the Salt Lake City School District’s policy that he argues at one point allowed the principal to make the call on whether to notify parents.

“I just don’t believe that honors the parental rights of these parents,” he said. 

Weiler said last fall he communicated with the school board’s president, who assured him their policy would change. The board updated their policy on Gender Inclusion and their Confidential Student Support Plan in October of 2022.

Weiler said he’s still plans to run the bill.

“I think that’s something that needs to be clarified in state law,” he said. “We’re not condoning school districts adopting policies, creating secret files, and keeping secrets from parents.”

Salt Lake City schools’ pronoun policy

The Salt Lake City School District’s current policy says that parents must be notified before changing any official school record or communication with the student.

“Parental permission is required to request that a preferred or chosen name and/or gender marker be entered into the student’s records in the student information system (PowerSchool),” it states.

It adds that: “School personnel should encourage students to communicate with their parents; school counselors have a list of resources and services to help facilitate these conversations.”

The policy also states that students who have legally transitioned have a right to keep their gender assigned at birth private.

“A school may maintain records with this [gender] information, but such records should be stored by the school administrator in a secure location.”

Further, it states: “Parents have a right to access their student’s education records.”

A district spokeswoman provided the following statement:

Student health and safety is the paramount consideration when discussing a student’s privacy related to their transgender status. We do all we can to protect students’ privacy and confidentiality from parties who don’t need access to sensitive information, but, of course, parents always have the right to access any of their student’s education records. A student’s name would not be updated or changed in our system without parental permission and notification.

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Bill would require Utah school districts to notify parents of change in student name, pronouns