Kansas’ Republican Attorney General has called on public schools to out trans and nonbinary kids to their parents, despite there being no state law that requires them to do so.
Attorney General Kris Kobach wrote letters to six different school districts in the state, as well as the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), to accuse them of surrendering “to woke gender ideology” and demand that they out any gender non-conforming students to their parents, PBS reports.
While five US states have unfortunately passed laws that require school staff to inform parents if their child is socially transitioning or identifying as trans or nonbinary, Kansas is not one of them.
Despite that, Kobach wrote to several school districts to let them know that their policies allowing school staff to conceal trans or nonbinary students’ identities from their parents violated parental rights.
When Kobach first got in touch with the six school districts about his demands, two responded to let him know that they had no plans to conceal students’ identities from their parents, but the remaining four “dug in their heels and essentially asserted that school administrators know better than parents,” Kobach claimed in a statement this week.
In his letters to school districts, Kobach cited anti-LGBTQ+ group Parents Defending Education, which has been involved in a number of legal disputes regarding LGBTQ+ issues being acknowledged in schools but could not point to a single state law that would require schools to forcibly out trans or nonbinary students.
When approached for a statement on Kobach’s demands, the Kansas City school district declined to comment, but the remaining three school districts agreed that they would deal with trans and nonbinary students on a case-by-case basis.
Superintendent Michelle Hubbard of the Shawnee Mission Unified School District issued a particularly strong-worded reply to Kobach’s letter, accusing Kobach of relying on “partisan source” and “misinformation.”
She wrote: “We are not caricatures from the polarised media, but rather real people who work very hard in the face of intense pressure on public schools.”
Pointing out the severe danger of policies that forcibly out transgender or gender non-conforming students to their parents, Justin Brace of Transgender Heartland in Kansas told NBC News: “This policy would unnecessarily out transgender students, and students questioning or exploring their gender to their parents before they are ready to talk about it.
“We need to stop trying to pass policies that erase trans kids from existence, and directly impact their mental health every day instead of letting them simply exist as kids who are learning, growing, and becoming themselves, which is what school is all about.”
This is far from the first time that Kobach has made an effort to restrict or polarise the transgender community in his state.
In 2023, the attorney general blocked Governor Laura Kelly’s democratic administration from changing the listings of sex on trans people’s government identification, such as birth certificates and driver’s licences, to reflect gender identity rather than gender assigned at birth.
Additionally, this is not the first time that a state official has attempted to enforce anti-trans rhetoric without a law demanding such.
In 2022, Texas Governor Greg Abbott demanded information from a number of state agencies on transgender Texans who had undergone gender-affirming healthcare, describing the treatment as abusive. His demands were based solely on a legal opinion from Texas attorney general Kevin Paxton.
Meanwhile, policies that out trans or nonbinary students are not the only anti-LGBTQ+ bills being pushed by political figures.
States across the US have attempted to introduce bans on gender-affirming care, bans on trans women and girls from taking part in women’s sports, or , or require schools to “out” trans and non-binary students to their parents.