Virginia Democrats voted Thursday to block Sage’s Law, a parental rights bill named after a victim of human trafficking, in the state Senate’s Education and Health Committee.
Lawmakers in the state House approved the bill on Feb. 7 after Sage’s mother Michele gave tearful testimony detailing how her daughter’s school kept Sage’s decision to identify as a boy hidden, even after the 14-year-old was raped and assaulted in the boy’s bathroom. Later, Sage was separated from her family, placed in a children’s home for boys and sex-trafficked twice as her parents fought for custody of their daughter. Sage now identifies as a girl again.
“Today Democrats told Sage her courage didn’t matter and they were were fine with the horrific abuse she endured happening to other kids. Sage’s Law had very good chances of passing the full Senate, but Democrats on the Education committee sold kids out. They cared more about their own political future than about protecting children from harm,” Laura Hanford, a Virginia parental rights advocate told the Daily Caller.
Sage’s law requires that parents be notified if their child socially transitions to another gender, prohibits teachers from hiding that transition and clarifies that “misgendering” does not qualify as child abuse. (RELATED: Pivotal Parental Rights Bill To Face An Uphill Battle In The Virginia Senate)
All nine Democrats on the committee voted against the bill, and all six Republicans voted for it.
Sage’s Law just died in the Virginia Senate education and health committee, 9 – 6.
All Republicans voted to protect kids.
All of the Democrats voted to continue keeping secrets from parents. https://t.co/ZvxsbH7Q5b pic.twitter.com/z7YnHZi5pf
— Billboard Chris 🇨🇦🇺🇸 (@BillboardChris) February 16, 2023
“Democrats in Virginia continue to think that the government knows best on how to raise our children. I am disappointed that Sage’s Law was defeated in committee,” Republican Del. Emily Brewer told the Daily Caller. “Parents know what is best for their children — and the bottom line is that we need to support the health and welfare of Virginia’s children by ensuring parental rights are respected and upheld.”
Republican Del. Tara Durant told the Caller that Democrats’ decision to block Sage’s Law “is politics at its worst.”
“This bill would protect students like Sage — one of many who have suffered irreparable trauma that could have been avoided if her loving and supportive parents hadn’t been kept in the dark about her experiences at school,” Durant added. “Parents cannot be treated as the enemy, and the wedge driven between schools and families has put students in harm’s way. Those who brought forth this initiative represent Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between. The safety of our children is not a partisan issue.”
“No elected official who votes to preserve secret access to kids by predators, and to remove parents from the care of their own children, deserves to represent families in government,” Hanford said. “It is just disgusting that none of these politicians had a fraction of the courage it took for Sage to try and protect other children.”
Virginia Democrats argue that the bill would forcibly “out” children to homophobic and transphobic parents and that the state should have the power to intervene if parents refuse to affirm their child’s gender identity.
“If you want experiences, if you wanna hear lived experiences from the very kids who this bill would affect, go talk to the kids who were kicked out of their homes, and who were beaten for being outed against their own will,” Democrat Delegate Danice Roem said during testimony.