Senate Parental Rights Bill Gains Traction

Senate Education Committee voting

After last week’s relatively quiet start to the legislative short session, Senate lawmakers introduced this week a revised version of House Bill 755, entitled “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) joined other Republican lawmakers in a press conference late Tuesday afternoon to introduce the bill, which was then quickly heard and passed in the Senate Education Committee the following day without amendments. The bill, as summarized by legislative staff here, contains several provisions that are similar to the parental rights bill recently passed in Florida, such as the mandate against providing instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to students in grades K-3; however, the bill also contains other potentially problematic provisions, such as new timelines for principals and school superintendents to respond to parental questions and complaints.

During Wednesday’s Education Committee meeting, Committee Co-Chair Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) noted the bill “confirms the importance of parental involvement in schools,” while other lawmakers argued the bill will cause unnecessary censorship in the classroom. Public commentary on the bill was also divided, with several parents calling on lawmakers to pass the “common-sense legislation,” while other parents argued the bill would undermine teachers and public schools.

One commenter shared her concerns about the specific provision in the bill requiring school employees to notify parents if their child requests to use a different pronoun, sharing that one of her childhood teachers had shared confidential information with her parents, causing her parents to then abuse her further. Public commentary continued on Thursday in the Senate Health Care Committee, in which several LGBTQ advocates voiced concerns about the impact the bill would have on student mental health, particularly for LGBTQ youth, who are already at a higher risk of homelessness and suicide. A majority of Health Care Committee members ultimately voted to approve the legislation, which will be heard next in the Senate Rules Committee, likely next week.

In the NC House of Representatives, Republican lawmakers also introduced a separate, more condensed, parental rights bill late Wednesday that includes a mandate against providing instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to students in grades K-6, while also allowing parents to appeal directly to the State Board of Education if their complaints are not addressed by their child’s principal within 30 days. The House bill has not yet been scheduled for a committee meeting.

The NCASA Advocacy Team will continue to monitor the progress of these bills and share updates on Twitter, in our new weekly podcast, and in our weekly newsletter. NCASA members should share any thoughts or concerns with these bills with their lawmakers, and forward any pertinent information to NCASA.

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