“The Parents Bill of Rights is an important step towards protecting children and dramatically strengthening the rights of parents,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on the House floor ahead of the bill’s passage.
The bill, introduced by Louisiana Rep. Julia Letlow, requires schools to notify parents that they have the right to review the curriculum and school budget, inspect books and other library materials, and receive information about any violent activity in the school.
The bill would also prohibit schools from selling student information. Elementary schools or schools housing grades 5-8 would be required to obtain parental consent before changing a student’s pronouns or preferred name or allowing a student to change their sex-based accommodations, like locker rooms or bathrooms.
“[This legislation] is not an attempt to have Congress dictate curriculum, or determine the books in the library,” Letlow said on the House floor Thursday. “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.”
Schools that don’t comply with the bill would be in danger of losing federal funding.
Democrats tie legislation to other efforts to curb what’s being taught in schools
Democrats are fiercely opposed to the bill, dubbing it the “politics over parents act.” They claim it seeks to codify already existing parental rights and politicizes the classroom.
“Rather than actually invest in empowering parents, making sure parents have the opportunity to be engaged and involved in the education of their children, the extreme MAGA Republicans want to jam their rightwing ideology down the throats of students, teachers and parents throughout America,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters Friday.
During floor debate on the bill this week, House Democrats argued the bill puts LGBTQ students at risk.
“This Republican bill is asking the government to force the outing of LGBT people before they are ready,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said.
Despite Republican lawmakers repeatedly claiming the legislation doesn’t ban books, Democrats argue the bill could provide a legal basis for book bans and censorship in schools.