RALEIGH, N.C. — Senate Republicans in North Carolina have introduced sweeping legislation that would bar instruction about sexuality and gender identity in K-4 public school classes and give parents greater authority over their children’s education and health care.
The proposed “Parents’ Bill of Rights" would also require schools to alert parents, in most circumstances, prior to a change in the name or pronoun used for their child.
A Senate committee met Wednesday to debate the bill and it advanced to the Senate Health Committee.
"I cannot understand why it would be controversial to say that children 5,6,7,8,9 years old should not be taught about sexuality or sexual activity in a public school classroom," Senator Amy Galy, a Republican sponsor of the bill, said Wednesday during a debate on the bill.
Among other provisions, the proposal requires schools to make certain classroom reading materials available for parental review and instructs schools to alert parents of any changes to a child's mental well-being.
"Erasure from school curriculum and forced outing negatively impacts the health and mental well-being of queer and trans students and results in life-threatening consequences," Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equality North Carolina, said in a statement to WRAL-TV. "All students deserve to feel safe in the classroom and to have their identities celebrated, not erased."
At the committee meeting, public comments were heard about the bill.
"This bill perpetuates the harm of silencing queer youth and keeping communities ignorant instead of providing the information necessary for folks to understand and support one another," said one person who spoke out against the bill.
There were also people who spoke in support of the bill.
"This bill seeks to restore transparency, and a sense of partnership and cooperation between parents and their children, school and health care providers," one speaker for the proposed bill said.
A version of the bill passed the state Senate last year but did not get a vote in the House. House Speaker Tim Moore said he decided not to bring the bill up for a vote last year because Gov. Roy Cooper could veto the bill and Republicans didn't have enough votes to override it. Prospects for passage this year have improved as Republican lawmakers increased their margins in the November elections.
Charlotte Pride is speaking out against the proposed legislation.
Like last year’s proposed bill, this year’s “Parents Bill of Rights” is nothing short of erasure. LGBTQ+ youth are already vulnerable to negative impacts on their health and well-being and this bill would only lead to further stigmatization and shame," Charlotte Pride said in a statement.
Also speaking out against the bill in person was the president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.
"Instead of this bill, we should be working to pass bills to ensure that every public school student, parent, and educator has the fully funded fully resourced public schools that they deserve," Tamika Walker Kelly, NCAE president told lawmakers.
Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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