State Senate passes 'Parents Bill of Rights' along party lines

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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
State Senate passes 'Parents Bill of Rights'
The North Carolina State Senate passed Senate Bill 49, known as Parents' Bill of Rights, Tuesday afternoon in a 29-18 vote on party lines.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina State Senate passed Senate Bill 49, known as Parents' Bill of Rights, Tuesday afternoon in a 29-18 vote on party lines. It follows a series of approvals through committees, after first being introduced a week ago.

"The government is not a partner in raising our children. Parents have the duty and responsibility to raise their own children according to their own cultural, social and religious beliefs. Opponents to the Parents' Bill of Rights will keep the parents from finding out what the curriculum is, place barriers in the parents' way and complicate policies with shrouds of bureaucratic secrecy. The Parents' Bill of Rights is really about acknowledging parents vital role in their children's lives," said State Sen. Amy Galey, a Republican who represents Alamance and Randolph counties, who is one of three primary sponsors of the legislation.

Senate Bill 49 prohibits instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality in kindergarten through fourth grade, though teachers would be able to respond to student-initiated questions. It would also require parents be informed of a change to the name or pronoun for a student in the school records, and allow them the right to review course materials and books their children check out of the school library, amongst other measures.

"It also encourages the schools to enable parents to be involved in the education and upbringing of their own children. A right that's fundamental and in America, that's guaranteed by the US Supreme Court. And so the bill will allow parents to be involved in knowing what the curriculum is, that their children are being taught in the classroom to knowing any health issues the child may have, and to give consent for medical treatment for those issues," said Tami Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the NC Values Coalition, during an interview with ABC11 last week.

The measure faced pushback since its introduction and right until the final vote, including from first-term State Senator Lisa Grafstein, who represents Wake County.

"We all want to solve problems for our constituents, but first we should do no harm. This bill does harm. Full stop. If you're thinking of voting yes, this is what I'm going to ask of you. Think ahead to tomorrow morning when you get up and look in the mirror, I want you to be sure to ask yourself this new. Will you be sure that you did no harm by passing this bill? That not one person will feel like they're trapped and have no one to trust," said Grafstein, who highlighted she was the chamber's lone LGBTQ+ member.

Grafstein said there were more pressing matters that deserved attention, including regarding school safety, adding she has heard concerns from constituents regarding this bill.

"When we think about that of a law such as the Parents' Bill of Rights, ultimately establishes this lens that students must adopt that says, 'oh, I'm different and I'm not enough.' And do we want do we want to leave students with that once they matriculate through our educational system? I would say, no. And I would say, if we do that, that's not a sound and basic education," said Dr. Deanna Townsend-Smith, who serves as Senior Director for the Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity.

SB 49 will now go towards the House, which introduced House Bill 755 last session, similar legislation that ultimately did not become law.

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