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Schools should not withhold students' gender identity from parents, Texas attorney general says

Ken Paxton issued an opinion Tuesday after a request from Texas Rep. Briscoe Cain.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday released an opinion that public schools across the state cannot withhold student health information from their parents.

It comes after Texas Rep. Briscoe Cain showed concern that some school leaders have suggested to staff that student confidentiality should be respected, such as if it a student shares that they identify as transgender or non-binary.

Paxton believes that if school officials refuse to work with parents in providing that information about their child, the school district could be subject to civil liability and financial ramifications.

"Texas and federal law mandate that parents have the right to access all educational information about their children, which includes medical or health information," Paxton wrote in the nonbinding opinion.

"Parents possess a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their child, and school districts and officials must work with parents in furtherance of the child’s education," it goes on to state.

According to a report from The Dallas Morning News, Cain requested the opinion referencing a presentation slide addressing students' rights to confidentially. It described how students could be referred to as something other than their legal name and that students may be called by their preferred pronouns.

The letter also links to a document from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), which addresses legal issues related to transgender students and includes guidance on how to proceed if a student requests that a school employee not tell their parents about their gender identity.

"Texas educators typically work with parents to decide on appropriate accommodations for transgender students. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that transgender students are at particular risk of harm, including selfharm, when a parent disagrees with the student’s gender identity," the TASB letter states.

Meanwhile, Cain wrote that, in his opinion, "the ideology that the government, not parents, knows what’s best for children, has infiltrated our schools in Texas."

Paxton's full opinion can be read here.

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