On Feb. 16, 2023, a committee controlled by Democrats in the Virginia Senate struck down a bill, Sage’s Law, that would have required “any person licensed by the Board of Education and employed by a local school board” to inform at least one parent if any minor under their temporary care would be at imminent risk of suicide or was self-identifying as a gender different than their biological sex. Furthermore, the bill stated that if the student were at risk of parental abuse or neglect, proper authorities in the county or city should be notified.
This was a commonsense bill that should have generated unanimous support across both sides of the aisle. Does every parent not have a right to know if their child is suicidal or is dealing with difficult problems such as questioning their gender while under the supervision and care of state employees in our schools?
Known as Sage’s Law, this bill was introduced to highlight the tragedy that took place in Appomattox County High School in Virginia when a teenager named Sage decided to present herself as a boy, though biologically, she was a girl. Though the school was aware of this, it hid the information from her mother, Michele. While in school, this young girl was severely bullied, and soon after the situation was discovered, she fled her maternal home and tragically fell into the hands of sex traffickers.
The horror was described in her mother’s words as follows: Sage was “drugged, raped, beaten, and exploited.” Sage’s Law was authored to prevent any such terrible sequence of events from happening again. It is incredible that today, people in the Virginia legislature oppose this bill. This is not only irrational but also morally reprehensible. This tragedy is emblematic of the blatant violation of parental rights taking place in our schools. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and this is a natural right, not a benign concession of a board of education or legislators.
We must put an end to this usurpation of parental rights by these school boards because it puts the physical, moral, and spiritual safety of our children at stake, and school boards and their personnel are accountable to parents, not vice versa. What has happened in this case and in Loudoun County is that the school board is usurping the legitimate authority of parents and is willfully and knowingly excluding them from exercising their rights to know and be informed of extremely grave circumstances that affect, as we see in this tragic case, their children’s lives, well-being, and physical and moral safety.
The actions of the high school personnel in Appomattox demonstrate a violation of the trust parents have placed in these institutions and school authorities. The tragic consequences for Sage and her family cannot be undone, but renewal and reform of our schools’ safety and accountability standards are urgently needed. We are saddened by the pain and suffering inflicted on Sage. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.
I am running for state Senate to help bring about this urgent change so that a tragedy of this magnitude is never again inflicted on any child in Virginia. I will soon be a father, and it breaks my heart to learn of these terrible events.
I wholeheartedly support the efforts of Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) and responsible Virginia legislators to defend our children, respect parents’ authority, and hold these school boards accountable. If elected, I will always fight for your rights as parents and for the well-being of every child in Virginia.
Juan Pablo Segura is a Republican candidate for the Virginia state Senate’s 31st District.