U.S. House passes ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ with amendments on transgender issues

 

Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republican House members introduce the “Parents Bill of Rights” Thursday, March 23, 2023. / Speaker Kevin McCarthyYouTube channel

Washington D.C., Mar 24, 2023 / 16:42 pm (CNA).

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives narrowly passed a “Parents Bill of Rights” designed to ensure that parents can have a stronger role in the public education system, which included last-minute amendments to bolster transparency on schools’ transgender policies.

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Julia Letlow, R-Louisiana, passed the House in a 213-208 vote, with the support of most Republicans and no Democrats.

“As a mom of two and a former educator, I believe for children to succeed, they need families and schools to work together as partners throughout the learning process,” Letlow said in a statement. “After spending nearly a year and a half working to pass this bill, I’m grateful that we’re finally able to advance this critical legislation.”

The resolution would set new federal standards for the public education system that would mandate greater transparency over the school curriculum and budget, set up more opportunities for parents to voice their opinion on school matters, and establish stronger privacy rights and security protocols for students.

To bolster transparency, the resolution would require school districts to publicly post their school curriculum and provide a list of library books and other library reading materials to parents. It would require states to provide parents with timely notice if gifted and talented programs are to be eliminated and publicize all changes to academic standards and learning benchmarks. The resolution would further mandate that school district budgets, individual school budgets, and all revenues and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

In addition, the resolution would seek to ensure greater cooperation between the schools and the parents by requiring school boards to provide opportunities for parents to address the board and mandating that teachers offer parents at least two in-person meetings every year.

To ensure students’ privacy, the resolution would require that schools receive parental permission before sharing student data with technology companies and would ban the sale of student data for any commercial purposes. It would also require that schools get parental consent prior to any medical exams of students.

As a way to improve student safety and transparency, the resolution would require schools to inform parents of violent activity on school grounds and at school-sponsored events. The schools would be required to maintain the privacy of students involved in the violence when notifying parents.

Lawmakers also approved some last-minute amendments to the resolution, which included two proposed by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado. Her amendments would require that schools notify parents if they allow biological males who identify as female to participate in girls’ sports or use the girls’ restrooms.

“We have seen public schools promote extremely divisive content like critical race theory, radical gender ideology, and even drag shows to impressionable young children,” Boebert said in a statement. “Speaking as a mother of four boys, enough is enough. I send my boys to school to receive an education, not indoctrination. Parents have a right to know what’s happening at their child’s school, and my amendments will ensure just that.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, issued a statement that accused Republicans of putting “politics over parents” by passing the resolution and claimed they were intent on banning books.

“Rather than actually invest in empowering parents, making sure parents have the opportunity to be engaged and involved in the education of their children, extreme MAGA Republicans want to jam their right-wing ideology down the throats of students, teachers, and parents throughout America,” Jeffries said.

The resolution now heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.


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