OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 1:12 PM – Friday, March 24, 2023
The House voted to pass the Parents Bill of Rights Act on Friday. The GOP-sponsored legislation is aimed to provide parents with more information about their children’s education.
Under the Parents Bill of Rights Act, public school districts would have to post information on student curricula in a public location, including a list of books and reading materials that are available to parents in school libraries. In addition, at least two in-person parent-teacher conferences would need to be held in schools each year, and school boards would need to hear from parents regarding their children’s education.
Lawmakers approved the bill in a 213-208 vote after voting on several amendments.
Representative Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) amendment, stated that parents have a right to know if the school their child attends operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities that permit transgender individuals to participate in a sport that does not correspond with their biological sex, was also approved by the chamber.
Another amendment that was accepted, supported by Boebert as well, states that parents have a right to know whether their child’s school permits a transgender person to use a restroom or changing area that does not match their biological sex.
On Thursday, during a debate on the House floor, the bill’s sponsor Representative Julia Letlow (R-La.) stated that the bill is not meant as an attack against school staff but meant to bring “more transparency and accountability to education.”
“This bill is not complex or complicated. Nor should it be partisan or polarizing, and contrary to what you may hear from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, it is not an attack on our hard-working teachers, who will always be the heroes in my eyes,” Letlaw said. “It is not an attempt to have Congress dictate their curriculum or determine the books in the library. Instead, this bill aims to bring more transparency and accountability to education, allowing parents to be informed and when they have questions and concerns to lawfully bring them to their local school boards.”
Congresswoman Erin Houchin has attested that the bill is meant to strengthen parent and teacher relationships.
The congressional vote comes as some elected Republicans in states throughout the nation have stepped up their campaign to prohibit specific books or to place restrictions on what may be taught in schools about problems of racial equality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. In the wake of divisive school board meetings around the nation, Republicans have charged Democrats with portraying parents as a threat.
Representatives Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) were the only Republicans to vote against the resolution.
Democrats have argued that the bill is aimed at promoting “fascism” and “extreme” views of Republicans by making it easier for parents to ban books and out LBGTQ+ students.
“This legislation has nothing to do with parental involvement, parental engagement,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said on the House floor Thursday. “Parental empowerment has everything to do with jamming the extreme MAGA Republican ideology down the throats of the children and the parents of the United States of America.”
Republicans, on the other hand, rejected the notion that this plan would outlaw books. Head of the House Committee on Education Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), has emphasized numerous times that the bill makes no reference of outlawing books.
Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas) assured that the bill “does nothing more” than to ensure that parents know “what is in the libraries and what is in the curriculum.”
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
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