Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s policy efforts to ensure that schools are not allowed to hide a child’s professed sexual or gender identity from his or her parents.

Proposed VA Bill Criminalizing Parents for “Mental Injury” Against LGBT-Identifying Children Shelved, For Now

OCT23 2022 – Elizabeth Johnston

A Virginia lawmaker who floated the idea of re-introducing a 2020 bill that would classify “mental injury” against children on the basis of their professed LGBT identities has reversed course after outcry.

Critics, including high-profile national Republican lawmakers Senators Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn, claimed that the bill proposed by Democrat Delegate Elizabeth Guzman would see parents who didn’t “affirm” a child’s sexual or gender identity charged with child abuse.

Guzman, claiming that her bill was “misunderstood,” took to Twitter to correct what she perceived as incorrect notions, yet underscored that the bill would “protected children” from “mental injury,” which by no means clarified whether parents who do not agree with affirming LGBT identities would be investigated for suspected child abuse.

“The 2020 bill was a child safety bill that would have simply protected children from ‘physical or mental injury on the basis of the child’s gender identity or sexual orientation,’ ” Guzman tweeted. “The way the bill was presented in the article was patently wrong.”

Guzman had suggested that the bill should be re-introduced in response to Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s policy efforts to ensure that schools are not allowed to hide a child’s professed sexual or gender identity from his or her parents.

Youngkin campaigned heavily on parental rights during his bid for governorship last year, a political model that many Republicans around the country have gone on to imitate in their own midterm election campaigns.

In response to Guzman’s suggestion that she’d propose the legislation criminalizing “mental injury” against LGBT children, Youngkin’s office said in a statement that “the goal of Democrat lawmakers in Virginia is to criminalize parents who are trying to be involved in their children’s lives. Children belong to families not to the state and Virginians can count on Governor Youngkin to continue empowering parents in the Commonwealth.”

Guzman, for her part, has maintained that the bill would not see parents arrested for child abuse if they do not affirm sexual or gender identity, yet her own comments offer little clarification to the point.

“If the child shares with those mandated reporters, what they are going through, we are talking about not only physical abuse or mental abuse, what the job of that mandated reporter is to inform Child Protective Services (CPS),” she recently told 7News. “That’s how everybody gets involved. There’s also an investigation in place that is not only from a social worker but there’s also a police investigation before we make the decision that there is going to be a CPS charge.”

When asked if her bill would “criminalize” conservative parents, Guzman insisted this was not the case.

“It’s educating parents because the law tells you the do’s and don’ts,” she obscurely answered. “So this law is telling you do not abuse your children because they are LGBTQ.”

When asked whether her bill had the potential to infringe on the First Amendment rights of Virginia’s parents, she replied, “The Bible says to accept everyone for who they are. So that’s what I tell them when they asked me that question, and that’s what I will continue to tell people,” apparently more committed to telling Christian parents how to practice their religion rather than concerned about state law respecting their rights to do so.

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