Story at a glance
- A North Carolina bill is seeking to establish a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” and prevent primary school teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with their students.
- The measure would require public schools in the state to disclose to parents any information about their child’s education, health, safety or privacy, including a student’s decision to use a different name or pronoun.
- North Carolina Sen. Phil Berger (R) on Tuesday said parents had a right to know certain things about their children and had become “worried” since gaining a understanding of what their children are being taught.
North Carolina lawmakers have revived a bill initially intended to foster “academic transparency” by requiring public K-12 schools to make information about instructional materials available to the public. An updated version of the legislation introduced Tuesday in the state Senate would establish a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” and prevent primary school teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with their students.
Originally introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives in April of last year, House Bill 755 was designed to “inform the public about instructional materials” that are used in the state’s public school classrooms, according to an initial draft of the measure. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R), had stalled in a Senate committee last May.
Under the new measure, the contents of the original legislation would be replaced entirely with a set of new provisions to create a Parents’ Bill of Rights that requires public schools to disclose to parents any information related to the education, health and privacy of their child, including a choice to use a different name or pronoun, according to text of the bill released Tuesday evening.
The legislation would also require schools to provide “age-appropriate instruction on certain topics” and lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity would “not be permitted in the curriculum” for kindergarten through third grade students, similar to what has become known as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans primary school teachers from engaging in classroom instruction related to either topic.
At a news conference on Tuesday, North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) said the legislation differed from the Florida law and was not intended to ban discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity that come up naturally in school.
“There’s no attempt to squelch folks from talking about things,” Berger said, local news station WRAL-TV reported. “There is a specific prohibition on it being part of a curriculum in kindergarten through third grade.”
Berger added that parents had been more present and more vocal at school board meetings since the beginning of the pandemic, when classrooms shifted to remote learning and parents were gaining a better understanding of what their children are being taught.
“This is an issue that parents all across the state have been concerned about,” he said. “They are worried about things that they have seen.”