Proposed Wisconsin Bill Allows Parents To Opt Children Out of LGBTQ+ Education


Mehru Siddiqui

As the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues, a new bill, AB 562, proposed by Republican lawmakers would allow parents to opt their children out of lessons, surveys, and discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity.  

This bill has sparked controversy across the state as LGBTQ+ youth protest against this bill, stating that it would start a cycle of ignorance and intolerance. They believe it would alienate LGBTQ+ youth from others.  

Natalie Poe (10) and Ryder Ruck (10) are two students from BEHS who handed out pamphlets to encourage their classmates to join the protest. When asked how this may affect queer students on a daily basis, Ryder said, “I think LGBTQ+ kids would probably get bullied more because a lot of people are not super open-minded, and they don’t have great education on these topics so I think taking that away would make them more ignorant than they already are.” 

LGBTQ+ youth have suicide rates of nearly three times that of straight youth. This could also affect children questioning their sexuality and gender identity. Ruck states, “If you’re not exposed to different gender identities and sexualities there’s a chance that you can’t explore yourself and express yourself in the way that you want to. A big part of high school is finding out who you are and taking away the opportunity to learn about gender identity and sexuality is like taking and locking away a part of yourself.”

Youth who don’t know much about these topics may wish to seek out information but since it is not talked about, they may feel as if they have no one to turn to. This could result in insecurities and lower self-confidence. 

Those for the bill claim it is a parent’s right to remove their children from lessons that may conflict with their household beliefs. Kim Vercauteren, executive leader of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, showed support for the bill saying, “As the first and primary educators of their children, parents and guardians must be included in assessing when and how best to broach these sensitive topics.” 

Many others who support the bill have said that it is important for teachers to know and agree with what is being taught at school as a way to prevent conflict at home. Vercauteren continued, stating “No education policy should substitute the authority of a teacher, school board, school staff or contracted entity for that of parents, especially when it comes to matters that have a far-reaching impact on the emotional, physical and moral well-being of their children.”

Brookfield East may also be affected by this bill, specifically the PRISM club. PRISM is a club for LGBTQ+ youth where students can express themselves freely amongst other people to whom they can relate. “One of the main points of this club is to allow queer people and their allies, who are closeted or out and proud, to participate and get to know each other and form these support systems they may not get at home,” Poe explained. 

PRISM creates a safe environment where students can learn about sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. If this bill were to pass, all students wishing to join this club would have to inform their parents or legal guardians. The problem with this is that some kids are unable to explain to their parents why they want to join. 

Though both groups have made their concerns vocal, the future of the bill remains vague, as does Wisconsin legislation’s approach to LGBTQ+ rights.