By Peyton Major
Christian Action League
January 26, 2024
A prominent North Carolina school board voted Jan. 18 not to comply with major components of a landmark new state law known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” and immediately faced pushback as well as warnings of potential legal action.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board voted unanimously not to follow sections of the new law that prohibit instruction on “gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality” in the curriculum for grades kindergarten through fourth grade and that prevent school officials from changing a student’s name or pronouns without first notifying the parents. The board agreed to comply with other sections of the law.
The legislation became law last summer over a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper.
The lengthy new law declares that “parental involvement and empowerment is fundamental to the successful education of all students.”
N.C. state Sen. Jim Perry, who voted for the new law, criticized the board.
“Are teachers or principals free to pick and choose which school board policies they follow? How about parents? How about bus drivers?” Perry asked, rhetorically. “I have spoken to several lawmakers who believe law is a basic building block of civilization. Law is the foundation that provides order and allows us to coexist together as a society. Disregard for law leads to anarchy.
“This was shortsighted,” Perry added. “There is a process our society has established to challenge or change laws.”
Board Chair George Griffin, who opposes the new law, asserted that someone needs to “stand up for what’s right.”
“My sense is that we do need to stand up and show people that somebody has the courage to say this is just morally wrong, and we’re not going to do it this way,” Griffin said, according to the News & Observer.
Catherine Truitt, the state’s superintendent for public instruction, also criticized the board.
“No. Sorry. You may not break the laws you don’t like — even in Chapel Hill,” she said. “I worked with the legislature to pass the Parents Bill of Rights to protect children and empower parents and it’s unacceptable for Chapel Hill or anyone else to ignore it.”
The sections of the new law that deal with gender and sexuality formed the core of the board debate.
The new law says an “employee of the State who encourages, coerces, or attempts to encourage or coerce a child to withhold information from his or her parent may be subject to disciplinary action.” This specific language would prevent schools from encouraging students to withhold information from parents about issues of gender and sexuality.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, urged the board to reconsider its action.
“It is our unwavering belief there is nothing morally wrong about a law that reinforces the rights of parents to be fully informed about their child’s educational experiences, including any changes in their name or pronouns,” Creech said. “These matters are of profound importance in a child’s development, and it is not only ethically sound but also morally imperative to ensure parents are not left in the dark.”
Parents, Creech said, “play the central role in their children’s upbringing, and it is their rightful prerogative to be fully informed and actively engaged in their child’s education.”
“To assert that this particular law should be resisted for morality’s sake is a gross misinterpretation of the meaning of civil disobedience,” Creech said. “Civil disobedience has historically been employed to protest against an unjust or unethical law. In the case of North Carolina’s Parents’ Bill of Rights, the law aligns with the long-established understanding that children belong to their parents, and not to educators. Parental rights are the great ethical concern here, something which some educators have been violating in the state’s public schools, necessitating the passage of such a law.”
The school board, Creech said, may face legal challenges and likely would lose in court.
“We commend those who have advocated for the rule of law, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, and U.S. Representative Dan Bishop running for state’s attorney general,” he said. “The Christian Action League and the thousands of churches we represent in North Carolina thank them for their steadfast commitment to legal standards.
“In conclusion,” Creech wrote, “we respectfully call upon the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board to reconsider its stance and adhere to the laws of our beloved state. The next board meeting will provide them with an opportunity to rectify the situation and uphold the principles of parental rights, the rule of law, and the well-being of our children.”