OPINION: Alaska attorney general incorrectly interprets parental notification law

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as if Jana Lindemut

Updated: 1 before noon Published 2 hours ago

It is the basic premise of our constitution that the legislature enacts laws and makes policy, and the executive must implement the laws without rewriting them. And when there is a dispute about the meaning of the law, the third part of the government, the courts, decides.

Alaska Attorney General Tregg Taylor recently stepped outside the executive branch’s line to reinterpret and greatly expand the Parental Notification Act, AS 14.03.016, beyond what was enacted by the Legislature in 2016, when I was Attorney General. That law requires school districts to pass policies that include parental notification at least two weeks before their child is “presented with content related to human reproduction or sexuality.” According to Mr. Taylor, school districts must provide this notice for any content that touches on gender identity, including this topic in English literature or other non-human reproductive sections. Although aspects of human reproduction can affect issues of gender identity, the reverse is not true—there are times when gender identity can be explained outside of the context of human reproduction. Mr. Taylor is trying to use fear tactics to blackball school districts from our schools, including banning some books he doesn’t like, citing whistleblower provisions in the law.

As a lawyer who often argues the interpretation of statutes in court, I am convinced that Mr. Taylor’s “guidance” is not an accurate interpretation of this statute. It is not supported by the express language of the Constitution, and the legislative history demonstrates that the Legislature has not discussed or intended to include issues of gender identity outside the context of the human sexuality course. With the Legislature refusing to enact legislation soon to reflect his policy preferences, Mr. Taylor is passing legislation from his seat in the executive branch – a violation of our Constitution. I strongly recommend that school districts seek their own legal advice on this matter and not rely on Mr. Taylor’s misguided guidance.

Finally, the guidance is particularly ironic because earlier this year, Mr. Taylor made essentially the opposite recommendation, narrowly interpreting “gender” to not include sexual orientation or gender identity. This is what the United States Supreme Court said in 2015. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on “sex,” protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Interpreting Alaska’s discrimination statutes with similar language, Mr. Taylor reached the opposite conclusion and ordered the Alaska State Human Rights Commission not to take charges of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity except on the subject. VII Employment status. This means that the Attorney General believes that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is legal in a variety of contexts, including public housing, real estate, credit and finance, and government practice. Now he wants to expand his policy beliefs to our schools.

Jana Lindemut He served as Alaska’s Attorney General from 2016 to 2018.

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