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Reports on Wyoming State Government Activity

Parental rights bill passes despite Gov. Gordon’s criticism

People of all ages sit at round tables watching a speaker.
Jordan Uplinger
Wyoming Public Radio
UW Students and Laramie locals listen to Albany County Commissioner Pete Gosar speak.

Wyoming will soon see a new law that mandates educators in the state to obtain parental consent to teach classes on gender identity and sexual orientation.

It also requires teachers to notify parents of changes in their students’ physical, mental or emotional health.

Gov. Mark Gordon allowed it to pass into law without his signature.

Critics worry the bill could open educators up to legal liability if disgruntled parents or students decide to sue if they think they haven’t been properly notified about the content of a particular lesson.

Josh Thompson is a social studies teacher in a Natrona County school district.

“What this law does is it puts educators in a position where they will face liability from both parents who are upset if (educators) don't tell parents that their children are expressing that maybe they may have some gender differences,” said Thompson. “It puts teachers in the position of really forcing us to violate students’ privacy and violate student identity.”

Rep. Clark Stith (R-Rock Springs) spoke at a committee meeting in favor of the bill, saying it’s needed in case a student changes their pronouns without parent knowledge.

“This bill is designed … to make it clear that something fundamental to raising your child is that the school district be able to inform the parent (about drastic changes),” said Stith.

In a letter criticizing the bill, Gov. Gordon said the law doesn’t add much to the rights already available to Wyoming parents.

The ACLU of Wyoming says the wording could also force educators to “out” LGBTQ+ students to their parents.

It will go into effect on July 1.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

Chris Clements is a state government reporter and digital media specialist for Wyoming Public Media based in Laramie. He came to WPM from KSJD Radio in Cortez, Colorado, where he reported on Indigenous affairs, drought, and local politics in the Four Corners region. Before that, he graduated with a degree in English (Creative Writing) from Arizona State University. Chris's news stories have been featured on KUNC, NPR newscasts, and National Native News, among others.
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