RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Republicans in the state Senate are expected to vote this week on a parental rights bill that would block schools from including LGBTQ issues in the curriculum for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
During a hearing of the bill on Tuesday, critics of it said the bill would lead to the “forced outing” of LGBTQ youth and elevate the risk of abuse and suicide.
The bill would guarantee parents have access to educational materials, including textbooks. It also requires schools to notify parents of healthcare services their kids receive and if a child changes what pronouns they use.
“Basically what the bill does is reaffirm rights that parents have with reference to the education and health of their children,” Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said. “It would seem to me that all this does for the most part is affirm what teachers should already be doing.”
The bill also includes a $5,000 penalty for healthcare practitioners who provide services for kids without parental consent.
Critics of the bill told a Senate committee Tuesday it could lead to teachers being forced to out students against their will.
“This is not OK. This is not safe. This is killing people,” said Rev. Vance Haywood, of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church. “We have our elected officials that are pushing legislation like this that’s creating an environment where we’re telling folks it’s not OK to be yourself. You have to hide parts of who you are. We’re forcing people to live a lie.”
Rev. Haywood noted the increased risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth and said legislation like this can further stigmatize them.
According to the Trevor Project, 45 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year.
While the bill has different language, Tyler Beall compared it to a recent controversial law in Florida which critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”
“This is, in fact, a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill,” he said.
He also referenced comments Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) made last year describing homosexuality and being transgender as “filth.”
Beall asked, “Is that me here standing right now? Am I filth to you? Is that really the culture you want our students growing up in?”
Eloise Robinson, a former teacher, thanked legislators for moving forward with the bill.
“Children are not learning because the curriculum has been full of things that are political and sexual and children can’t read in North Carolina,” she said. “They are innocent children. They believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. They are not interested in sex.”
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Wake County Public School System said a preschool teacher at Ballentine Elementary in Fuquay-Varina had resigned amid a controversy regarding LGBTQ-themed flash cards found in their classroom last week.
Rep. Erin Pare (R-Wake) said last week she contacted the principal about the flash cards after hearing from a constituent. She said the principal quickly removed them.
The Senate is expected to vote on the parents’ rights bill on Wednesday.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) was critical of the bill saying, “Schools are grateful for involved parents and we need even more of them working together with teachers to educate our children. However, the last thing our state needs is another Republican political ploy like the bathroom bill which hurt our people and cost us jobs, so let’s keep the “Don’t Say Gay” culture wars out of North Carolina classrooms.”