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Trust vs. Betrayal

Editorial by Josephine P. Tittsworth

During the early 1940’s signs were posted during World War II saying, “Lose Lips Sink Ships.” It was during this time that the nation was on high alert for espionage by the Germans and Japanese. Fear spread throughout the United States of American. People were monitored for potential threats. Who were these Speech Spies? They were similar to what people call today Big Brother. Well today in Texas a Senate Bill (SB) 242 (the Tattle Tale Bill) is attempting to establish the same standard in our public school systems.

On November 17, 2016 Senator Konni Burton from Fort Worth submitted her proposed bill, SB 242, to require faculty, staff, and administration in our public school systems to notify parents if there is talk of a student being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender (LGBT). If an employee of a school district did not notify the parents of a child suspected of being LGBT then the employee would be disciplined.

…(2) except as provided by Section 38.004, full information regarding the school activities of the parent’s child and disclosure of any general knowledge regarding the parent’s child possessed by an employee of a school district, including general knowledge that relates to any of the categories of information addressed in Subdivision (1).
(b) An attempt by an employee of a school district to conceal or withhold, or to encourage or coerce a child to withhold, information or general knowledge concerning the child from the child’s parent is grounds for discipline under Section 21.104, 21.156, or 21.211, as applicable.

In our school systems employees find it necessary to build relationships of trust with students. If this relationship is betrayed then the student may choose to either withdraw from school, become suspicious of the employee, or act out in an adverse manner thereby effecting the child’s academic standing in that school. The other potential consequence is that if parents are notified that their child claims to be LGBT then the parents could (and in many cases do) force the child out of the home and/or become violent to the child. So safety issues are important in this case.

Betrayal has many side effects and these potential consequences are just some of the options. The homeless children on the streets in Texas are largely members of the LGBT community. They go to the streets to avoid the abuse from family. This has become a serious issue in Texas and SB 242 will simply amplify the dangers to our children. Children will begin to wonder where the Speech Police are located in their schools; around the corners of the hallways, stairwells, classrooms, or food and recreational areas. Where are the Speech Police lurking?

Social workers in Texas are very concerned as to the safety of our children regardless of whether they are intact in families and schools or on our streets simply trying to survive. You are encouraged to speak to your legislators to refuse to pass bills that create a state of discrimination against any group of Texans including children.

Josephine P. Tittsworth, ABD, LMSW, BSW, AA is Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit, Executive Director
National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter, LGBT Equity Committee Chair