The latest episode in the cultural conflict over conversations about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation in the country’s public schools was the House’s passage of a Republican-backed plan that would increase parental rights over their children’s education.
In accordance with the Parents Bill of Rights, which was proposed by Rep. Julia Letlow (R., La. ), schools receiving federal education funds would be required to publish their curricula in a public forum and set up procedures for parents to voice concerns about books and curriculum units they deem offensive.
Also, schools would have to let parents know about safety incidents that take place on school property and if administrators plan to make accommodations for their kid based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Schools who don’t comply run the risk of losing their eligibility for federal school funding, which includes money for the free or reduced lunch program.
With five Republicans joining all of the Democrats in opposition, the bill passed 213-208.
Ms. Letlow stated on the House floor that the Act was not intended to target teachers or impose Washington’s agenda on curricula. “This bill seeks to increase transparency and accountability in education, allowing parents to be informed and legally submit issues and concerns to their local school boards,” she said.
The legislation is known as the “politics over parents act” by Democrats. They contend that the law would allow for racial and sexual censorship in public schools and would impose unfunded new requirements on administrators.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.), the committee’s ranking member, and other Democrats cited allegations from Florida that certain school districts temporarily pulled books about civil rights pioneers like Rosa Parks and Roberto Clemente from the shelf after receiving parental complaints. They used this as evidence that the bill would result in the banning of books.
Here’s a bill that, in the words of Mr. McGovern, “creates onerous steps to make schools justify which books are on the shelves if a single parent complains, makes it easier to censor ideas and ban books, makes it easier for one racist or homophobic person to dictate to an entire class, an entire school, what kids can and can’t read.”
The Senate is not likely to vote on the bill. Although key moderates in both parties, including Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said they hadn’t reviewed the bill when asked for their position on the measure on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed the bill would “meet a dead end” if it passes in the House. President Biden would veto the bill “in its existing shape,” according to the White House.
Republicans are focusing more on public schools and their curricula in front of the 2024 election, which coincided with the House vote.
In the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election, the topic was seen as crucial. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who supported parents’ rights in public school curriculum and the value of in-person learning in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, managed to win over suburban voters in Northern Virginia and flip the governorship.
At the state and local levels, Republican legislators have passed legislation promoting parental involvement. The Parental Rights in Education Act was signed into law by Republican governor of Florida Ron DeSantis. This bill, which opponents dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, caused a stir because it forbids conversation about sexual orientation and gender identity before third grade and mandates that schools notify parents if their children disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to school officials.
The law would forbid any mention of gender identity or sexual orientation outside of sexual education classes, which kids can choose not to attend, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, according to a statement made by Florida Republicans on Wednesday.
The majority of educational spending and school policy decisions are made locally, hence Congress normally has a limited impact on local laws and curricula.
Republican and Democratic divisions on Capitol Hill have gotten worse as a result of the law. Members of both parties are being urged to support the party line by their leaders. Ms. Letlow’s bill has the support of moderate Republicans, including many who have previously supported federal protections for LGBT Americans.
Rep. Ann Wagner (R., Mo.), one of the Republicans who previously voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which officially recognized same-sex marriage under federal law, said, “I will always defer to parents and then also do the things that are in the best interests of their children…but in terms of curriculum, getting back to the basics.”
She said, “I think these parental-rights laws at both the state and, now, at the federal level are a really beneficial moving forward.” “I am someone who has a history of supporting LGBTQ rights. Rep. Nancy Mace added, “But also, you know, parents should be aware of what’s happening at school” (R., S.C.). The proposal would target Gay pupils, according to opponents.
Rep. Becca Balint (D-VT), who is openly lesbian, stated, “They talk about parental rights, but as a parent of a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old myself, this rhetoric doesn’t make me feel like my kids are safer or schools are safer.”
House Dems Angry After Passage Of Republican’s Parent Bill of Rights |
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