Yes, let’s talk about “rights” in public education
American politicians have a penchant for bestowing bombastic titles on the legislation they sponsor. Simply and precisely describing what a bill does is not enough; there must be a catchy acronym or an inspirational, propagandistic title that will make the bill harder to vote against. Remember the USA Patriot Act (which stood for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing the Proper Tools Needed to Intercept and Hinder Terrorism”)?
And that’s how Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina are introducing a proposal this spring that they’ve dubbed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” The bill, which in practice achieves little substance except to mimic some troubling aspects of Florida’s infamous “don’t say gay” law, was introduced by both houses of the ‘General Assembly in recent weeks and, unfortunately, could soon be on Governor Roy Cooper’s desk.
Its absurd underlying premise is that public schools are engaged in some kind of evil plot to expose children to all kinds of information about LGBTQ life, and even to “groom” them to let go of heterosexuality and gender identities. traditional genres (as if such a thing were possible), and that it is urgent to give parents the means to intervene.
The truth, of course, is quite different.
First of all, the idea that a third-grade teacher shouldn’t be allowed to explain to a child why another child happens to have two loving moms or dads when asked is absurd on its face.
But as NC Policy Watch reporters Joe Killian and Lynn Bonner explained in an article earlier today, the bill sets off many other alarm bells: both for educators who might be required under the bill’s vague and confusing language to “disclose” students to their parents, and doctors and mental health experts who fear vulnerable children may be subjected to all kinds of inappropriate and harmful treatment if they do not exhibit the “masculine” or “feminine” character traits approved by their parents.
As some have noted, North Carolina is not yet on the growing list of states that have completely banned “conversion therapy” – the destructive and discredited practice by which parents seek to prevent children from expressing a sexual orientation or gender identity that they disapprove of.
If the bill becomes law, educators could easily find themselves in the situation where they could be forced to contact parents to tell them about children who confided in them – even if they had reason to fear that this does not lead to the removal of the child. school and sent to a kind of destructive camp that would try, as some critics have described it, to “drive them out of homosexuals”.
The great and bitter irony of this misleadingly misnamed legislation is that it comes just as the state’s Republican legislative majority is ignoring two genuine and vitally important educational policy rights it has denied children. state for years.
Think about it: For decades, every schoolchild in North Carolina has had the right – a real constitutional right – to have access to a good basic education. State courts have repeatedly ruled in the long Leandro where the right exists and the state fails to allocate the necessary funds to provide it.
As a result, children in our state — especially in low-income counties — attend schools in crumbling facilities with insufficient staff. To make matters more absurd, GOP lawmakers are sitting on record budget surpluses running into the billions of dollars. All the money they need to comply with the Leandro decision is, literally, sitting in the bank.
Meanwhile, at a time in our country where large numbers of innocent school children and educators continue to be murdered in their classrooms in repeated incidents perpetrated by other children armed with assault weapons , the legislator is doing nothing to address the crisis of gun violence.
Instead, the same lawmakers — who are so obsessed with parental “rights” and the supposedly grave threat that someone could discuss LGBTQ people as full human beings — continue to block the passage of simple, modest laws against gun violence that the public overwhelmingly supports.
Rather than join the long list of other civilized nations in which gun ownership is treated, at the very least, with the same seriousness as car ownership and driving, our Republican legislators and their Gun lobby allies continue to make it easier for high school kids to buy and use military-grade killing machines.
The Bottom Line: It’s true that a catchy nickname can sometimes help a legislative proposal garner support and scare off potential opposition. Maybe it will work for Republicans in North Carolina in this case. But by initiating and inviting a discussion about rights in public education, the sponsors of the bill are indeed skating on very thin ice.