By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
February 10, 2023
“Parents are the primary decision-makers with respect to their minor children, not their school, or even the children themselves,” Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance) told fellow lawmakers Tuesday before the Upper Chamber passed the Parents Bill of Rights along a party-line vote.
Senate Bill 49, which is now headed to the House, would ensure that parents are notified of health services offered at their child’s school and any changes in the name or pronoun used by their child unless there are credible concerns that notifying the parents would endanger the child’s safety. It would codify parents’ rights to seek medical or religious exemptions from immunization requirements and to have their child evaluated for an academically or intellectually gifted program, or for identification as a child with a disability. Further, the measure would ban lessons on “gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality” from the curriculum for students in kindergarten through fourth grade, and it would put in place processes to allow parents to preview materials used in the classroom and to opt their children out of certain activities.
Galey joined co-sponsors Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) and Lisa Barnes (R-Franklin) to shepherd the bill through the Senate, where it passed 29-18.
It is expected to find support in the House, where Republicans are one vote shy of the supermajority needed to override a gubernatorial veto. Gov. Cooper has not said he will veto the bill if it makes it through the House, but he has made clear he opposes the measure. In statements released Tuesday, he said Democratic lawmakers had introduced their own measure to encourage parental involvement. But Galey called that bill, the Parents’ and Student’s Bill of Rights, a “watered-down version” that was little more than “political theater.”
The Governor also said that passing the Parents’ Bill of Rights could “have the great potential to hurt our economy,” by thwarting business development, a claim dismissed by Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), who pointed out that similar legislation in Florida had not seemed to have a chilling effect on the Sunshine State.
Berger told the media he did not expect any backlash from businesses “unless the governor is going to go out there and bash the state because of it, himself.”
“I hope he would not intend to do that,” he added.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said parents’ across the political spectrum should appreciate the bill’s intent: leaving to them the responsibility of passing their own worldview, especially on matters such as sexuality and gender identity, on to their young children, rather than putting it in the hands of teachers who may hold an opposite worldview.
“This bill doesn’t prevent children or teachers from talking about their families, nor would it ostracize anyone or discriminate against anyone as some have implied. It simply says that children in the lower elementary grades don’t need to be taught about gender and sex at school. It shouldn’t be part of the curriculum,” he said.
Opponents of the bill say that telling a child’s parents that he has asked to change his name and the pronoun used to refer to him is violating the child’s rights. But supporters, many of whom spoke during Senate committee meetings leading up to Tuesday’s vote, say the measure is long overdue.
“We want transparency in all things involving our children: curriculum, emotional health issues, physical health issues, surveys, reading materials, gender identity questions, and name changes,” Julie Page, chair of the Moms for Liberty Wake County chapter, told the Rules Committee on Monday. “We simply want to know about these things so that we may help our children manage them. Secrecy only breeds distrust and division between schools, parents and students.”