MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A policy outlining guidelines for parental involvement in Moore County Schools is causing a stir as it moves through the county's board of education. The biggest hot-button issue is a mandate for teachers to ask for parents' permission before referring to LGBTQ+ students by their preferred names and pronouns.
The policy, called the Parents' Bill of Rights, will be up for a vote at next week's Moore County School Board meeting. It was first brought before the full board Monday night.
Some say teachers are worried that this policy would violate students' privacy.
"If a child, a student, trusts them enough as a trusted adult to come and confide in them and tell them that they're struggling with something, they will help get that child the services..." said Alexa Roberts, the co-founder of Public School Advocates. "(T)hey don't feel comfortable being required to then report that to anyone else."
Lauren Mathers of Sandhills Pride said there are bigger priorities.
"(Before COVID) there were more vacancies in the Moore County school system than there were kids that self-identified as trans or non-binary...What exactly are we focusing on?" Mathers said.
Mathers also pointed out that school counselors would be breaking their code of ethics by divulging students' confidential information if they follow this policy.
Fayetteville PRIDE also expressed solidarity in a statement saying in part, "In a climate where LGBTQ youth already experience more hurdles than their peers, this is a step backward."
But supporters at the Board of Education said parents are crucial partners in optimizing their children's education and can't be left behind.
"We want to make sure that parents are not surprised by a child all of a sudden transitioning and not consulting them. In the end, the children do not belong to us. The children belong to the parents," said Robert Levy, the chair of the Moore County Board of Education.
The policy would allow teachers to inform child protective services instead if they're afraid that informing the parents would put a student at risk. But ultimately, Levy said the school system shouldn't be alienating parents.
"The bottom line is that we do not have secrets as between educators and parents," Levy said. "We have the students so many hours a day. And we will do our best, but without the support of parents, we are lost."