The following was recently published by Education First Alliance:
Here's the truth: North Carolina's public school system is filled with institutional flaws and cultural failures that allow school workers to harm children and families. The Parental Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 755, proposed last week by Republicans on the Senate Education Committee, contains the following short-term reforms intended to address some of the state's problems:
1. School officials must contact parents "promptly" if they suspect that a criminal offense has been committed against their child, provided that law enforcement has not already been notified. This means that instead of waiting for the results of an internal investigation into abuse (as so often happens), schools will be required to involve parents from the beginning.
The bill states that school officials should not perpetuate cultures of complicity or silence: whitewashing the harm caused by inappropriate responses, lack of staff skills in safeguarding unsafe physical environments, or the lack of education on consent and lack of procedural guidelines, A culture of silence and coverup allegedly shaped the negligent way the New Hanover school district responded to child sexual abuse in the district for over a decade. A recent lawsuit claims that 13 staff were fired or resigned over sexual abuse incidents over the past 15 years while school officials are accused of failure to report potential sexual abuse to law enforcement.
2. Schools will no longer be permitted to serve as the primary custodian of a child’s emotional wellbeing through administering invasive surveys (like Panorama and others) or provide in-school psychiatric services behind the backs of parents. The bill would outlaw secretive gender support plans (as we reported), which assign a "support adult" in school to work in secret isolation with children who indicate a desire to socially change their gender.
School officials will be required to encourage children to discuss well-being with his or her parent, and teachers may facilitate those discussions if needed. School boards and principals will not be allowed to prevent school personnel from informing parents about their children's "mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being," and they cannot develop policies, rules, or documents that encourage a child to withhold information about that child's health, emotional, or physical well-being from the parent.”
It would also ban in-school providers from providing psychiatric services to minors without written parental consent, except in an emergency. Violators could be fined $5,000.
3. Schools will be required to develop clear procedures to allow parents to inspect student surveys, which are administered on a passive opt-in basis.
Such queries, which ask children as young as eleven what age they first had sex, how many sexual partners they've had, and how many hours they are at home alone could provide predators with valuable information for targeting victims. Allowing schools to assess a child's private thoughts and emotions, and then tending to those needs in a secret relationship behind parents' backs, is a risky practice.
4. School officials will be required to avoid situations where they will be discussing sexual politics in the classroom - a practice that invades children’s personal boundaries and disrupts the learning environment.
The bill states that instruction on "sexual orientation or gender identity" should not take place in grades K-3. This is currently being done in Pre-K classes with the use of flashcards depicting pregnant men, in Kindergarten by using a "Gingerbread Person" caricature teaching 5-year-olds about sexual attraction between gay and straight people.
According to the American Bar Association, discussing sexually explicit information under the guise of education is a key grooming behavior that should serve as a red flag for law enforcement. Therefore the bill does not go far enough. K-12 students should not be subjected to presentations on sex and sexuality outside the context of units on reproduction in high school-level health or biology classes.
Senate Bill 755 allows a parent to bring a civil suit against any government entity or official that violates the Parents’ Bill of Rights in North Carolina law - and schools would have to pay the court costs. The proposal allows parents to view all written or electronic records from their child's school - including counseling records - and requires that schools notify parents before a child can change their name or pronouns in school records.
Passage of Senate Bill 755 will send a signal to the public that government officials, like principals, teachers, and school counselors who harm children are not above the law.
Before Senate bill 755 becomes law, it must pass the full Senate and House where Republican hold majorities. It will then land on Governor Roy Cooper's desk. Keeping schools safe from predators and keeping sexual politics out of the classroom is top of mind of every parent, and any law maker who votes against this bill will surely risk a defeat during the next elections.