Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have pushed forward a bill to protect parents’ rights to direct their children’s upbringing, including the right to be informed of conversations the school has with their child about sex and gender.

The bill, similar to one that recently became law in Florida, would ban public school curricula for grades K through 3 from containing instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity. In general, school administrators and employees would not be allowed to keep secret from parents any information related to the “mental, emotional or physical health or well-being” of their child.

Under the proposal, North Carolina schools would have to tell parents if their child wants to be referred to by a different name or pronoun, as well as ask for parents’ consent before providing the child with any counseling service or other non-emergency health care.

In addition, the bill would allow parents to sue the school if it fails to address concerns about their parental rights. Any health care provider that fails to obtain parents’ consent before giving non-emergency medical treatments for their child would also face penalties, including fines of up to $5,000.

The proposed measures will be added to an existing curriculum transparency bill, which would guarantee that parents have the right to review and object to textbooks and supplementary materials, to seek a medical or religious exemption from immunization requirements for their child, and to see which books their child has borrowed from the school library.

“Parents want to be more involved in their child’s education. This proposal strengthens the relationship between schools and parents,” state Senate leader Phil Berger said at a May 24 press conference. “The bill is about transparency and trust in our public schools. The more open communication school personnel have with parents about a child’s education and well-being the better.”

f the bill passes the Republican-controlled State Assembly, it is very likely to be vetoed by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper. In that scenario, Republicans will need the support of Democrats to secure enough votes needed to override the governor’s veto.

When it comes to the debate over whether young children should be taught at public schools about LGBTQ-related topics, Cooper has a different opinion than Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who openly called such teachings “filth.”

“Those issues have no place in the schools,” Robinson said last June at a Baptist church event. “There is no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality – any of that filth.”

Robinson refused to walk back those comments after a video of his speech went viral on social media, saying instead that he would “continue to fight for the right of children to receive an education that is free from sexual concepts that do not belong in the classroom.”

Cooper’s office released a statement criticizing Robinson’s comments. “He does not speak for North Carolina,” the governor said. “We are a welcoming and inclusive state and we want the entire nation and the world to know that.”


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