By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
June 30, 2023
The North Carolina House and Senate this week easily passed a bill known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” sending to Gov. Roy Cooper legislation that would clarify parents legal rights within education, gender, sexuality and other areas.
The legislation, Senate Bill 49, declares that “parental involvement and empowerment is fundamental to the successful education of all students.” It prohibits instruction on “gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality” in the curriculum for grades kindergarten through fourth grade. Further, it prevents school officials from changing a student’s name or pronoun — in “school records or by school personnel” — without first notifying the parents.
It passed 26-13 in the Senate and 66-47 in the House, with Republicans composing all the “yes” votes and all Democrats voting “no.” The only member to break ranks was GOP Rep. Hugh Blackwell, who opposed it.
Sen. Amy S. Galey, a Republican and a bill supporter, said the legislation is necessary.
“Parents have the duty, they have the responsibility to care for their children,” Galey said. “… The state should respect that and support that.”
Addressing objections from Democrats about LGBT children, Galey added, “When you withhold information from parents, that is vital to their understanding about their child’s mental health.”
“If you have a child who is suicidal, if you have a child who has mental health problems, the first person that should be called and brought into the conversation is the parents,” she said.
Parents grew more concerned about schools during the pandemic, Galey said.
“Parents came up with a lot of concerns and questions about the curriculum” and “when parents approached the teacher or approached the principal, they get the stiff arm,” she said.
The bill 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.
(Read the full text of the bill here. Scroll down to read the full list of rights)
The 12-page bill lists 12 specific rights for parents in the education realm and 10 rights for parenting in general.
For education, it says parents have the right to: 1) consent or withhold consent for participation in reproductive health and safety education programs, 2) seek a medical or religious exemption from immunization requirements, 3) review statewide standardized assessment results as part of the State report card, 4) request an evaluation of their child for an academically or intellectually gifted program, or for identification as a child with a disability, 5) inspect and purchase public school unit textbooks and other supplementary instructional materials, 6) access information relating to the unit’s policies for promotion or retention, including high school graduation requirements, 7) receive student report cards on a regular basis that clearly depict and grade the student’s academic performance in each class or course, the student’s conduct, and the student’s attendance, 8) access information relating to the State public education system, State standards, report card requirements, attendance requirements, and textbook requirements, 9) participate in parent-teacher organizations, 10) opt in to certain data collection for their child, 11) for students to participate in protected student information surveys only with parental consent, and, 12) review all available records of materials their child has borrowed from a school library.
The more general list of parental rights says parents have the right to: 1) direct the education and care of his or her child, 2) direct the upbringing and moral or religious training of his or her child, 3) enroll his or her child in a public or nonpublic school, 4) access and review all education records, 5) make health care decisions for his or her child, 6) access and review all medical records of his or her child, 7) prohibit the creation, sharing, or storage of a biometric scan of his or her child without the parent’s prior written consent, 8) prohibit the creation, sharing, or storage of his or her child’s blood or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), 9) prohibit the creation by the State of a video or voice recording of his or her child, and, 10) be promptly notified if an employee of the State suspects that a criminal offense has been committed against his or her child.