Democratic California state Sen. Scott Wiener is the driving force behind a series of recent bills targeting parental rights and promoting gender ideology that have become central to a cultural debate in California schools.
Wiener, working with activist groups and fellow members of the California LGBTQ caucus, has helped introduce several pieces of legislation that could transform California’s approach to LGBTQ issues. Since taking his seat in the California Senate, Wiener has spearheaded bills establishing guidance for judges to make custody decisions based on which parent “affirms” their child’s “gender identity,” requiring trainings for teachers to “identify” and support LGBTQ students and allowing children to be placed in state residential housing without parental consent at age 12.
The conflict between parental rights groups and Democratic lawmakers has proven to be a significant cultural flashpoint in reliably Democratic California, with several school boards rebelling against guidance from California state authorities aimed at limiting parental rights.
The backlash to the promotion of gender ideology by California elected officials has led one parental rights group, Protect Kids California, to create a statewide ballot initiative combatting it. The group wants laws banning child sex change surgeries, men in women’s locker rooms and a law to require schools to notify parents of student “gender transitions.”
“I think the struggle with parents is getting them to understand what’s happening in California. When you talk to people about these things, they think you’re joking,” Republican California Assemblyman Bill Essayli told the DCNF.
Wiener, as the co-author of several significant pieces of legislation on LGBTQ issues that implicate children, has been at the center of the storm.
Wiener gained national notoriety among conservatives in 2017 when he authored Senate Bill 239, which lowers the punishment for persons who willingly transmit HIV to another person. The legislation lowers the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor and from a maximum prison sentence of 8 years down to six months. The California governor at the time, Democrat Jerry Brown, signed the bill into law.
The bill was cosponsored by LGBTQ activist groups Equality California and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California. Wiener often works with Equality California, which has supported many of the bills Wiener has co-authored.
“These groups are pulling the strings behind the scenes,” Essayli told the DCNF.
In the 2022-2023 legislative session, Wiener was the architect of several pieces of far-reaching legislation parental rights activists say are intended to force gender ideology into: A.B. 5 and A.B. 665.
“He’s strategic in his bills,” Erin Friday, a parental rights activist in the state, told the DCNF.
A.B. 5 requires teachers to be trained to “identify” children who may be LGBTQ. It also requires teachers to be up to date on LGBTQ issues and to be taught to identify LGBTQ children whose parents might not accept their children’s sexuality.
CALIFORNIA – JUNE 02: Senator Scott Wiener speaks at the VIP reception at SF Pride 2023 Kick Off: “A Night Of Queer Entertainment” at The Castro Theatre on June 02, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)
“So now you have teachers that are on the lookout for LGBTQ kids and on the lookout for those kids who aren’t being supported by their parents,'” Friday said.
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed A.B. 5 Saturday, according to California’s legislative website.
AB. 665 would allow children aged 12 and older to check into government-run residential shelters without the consent of their parents.
A.B. 957 would have mandated custody judges to consider a parent’s “affirmation” for their child’s “gender identity” when deciding how to award custody and visitation rights.
At a hearing for A.B. 957 in June, Republican California state Sen. Scott Wilk said, “if you love your children, you need to flee California,” according to the Washington Times.
Wiener is the Chair of the Senate Housing Committee in California, as well as a member of the LGBTQ caucus, and focuses on housing issues and gender ideology.
Wiener authored another bill in 2020, A.B. 145, that exempts certain persons convicted of sex crimes against minors, who were less than 10 years younger than them at the time, from being put on the sex offender registry. He characterized the backlash as part of the QAnon conspiracy movement, and said that those people think everything is a “conspiracy to molest children,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Wiener responded to backlash to the bill, saying the bill “ends discrimination against LGBTQ people on the sex offender registry,” according to ABC 10 News. This bill was also cosponsored by Equality California and the ACLU of California, according to Wiener’s website.
Wiener did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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