This week, Republican lawmakers introduced H.R. 5, known as the Parents Bill of Rights, to protect parental involvement in their children’s education. This comes as school districts across the country have been exposed for injecting sexual education and gender identity lessons into curriculum staff members hiding student’s gender transitions from parents.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other House Republicans reintroduced the legislation Wednesday. The legislation gives parents the right to know what’s being taught in schools and to see school reading materials, the right to be heard, the right to see the school budget and spending, the right to protect their child’s privacy, and the right to be updated on any violent activity at school.
“You have a say in your kids' education, not government and not telling you what to do," McCarthy said in remarks at the Capitol.
EVERY parent deserves:— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 1, 2023
•The right to know what’s being taught in schools & see reading materials.
•The right to be heard.
•The right to see school budgets & spending.
•The right to protect your child’s privacy.
•The right to be updated on any violent activity at school. pic.twitter.com/3lFFkqvLeS
Parents have a right to know what is going on inside their child’s classroom.— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) March 1, 2023
House Republicans are laser-focused on putting parents back in the driver’s seat through our Parents’ Bill of Rights. pic.twitter.com/brZqo3cNE8
At the Capitol, parents shared stories about how online learning during the pandemic gave parents insight into what their children were learning in school. Topics regarding race and gender identity were embedded in their children’s curriculum. And since returning to in-person learning, issues like transgender students’ use of school bathrooms and mask mandates have arisen.
A mother, Neeley McAllister, shared that her daughter was suspended from Fairfax County public schools 11 times for refusing to wear a mask.
“It is no secret that Fairfax County was one of the worst school districts when it came to pandemic mandates and school shutdowns,” McAllister said. “After Governor Youngkin announced his executive order banning mask mandates in school, my daughter, who is here with me now, she stood firm in her decision to no longer wear a mask to school, and for that she was suspended 11 times. 11 times for not wearing a mask. Think about how absurd that sounds, that even The New York Times recently had to admit that masks were essentially ineffective and useless.”
“Despite all the negative consequences caused by heavy handed mandates forced onto us by bureaucrats and teachers unions, there was a silver lining. Parents in Fairfax County and in school districts across this country now had a front row seat to what their children were learning in school, and in most cases, we were dismayed and appalled at the adult subject matter that was not only on the bookshelves, easily accessible on the bookshelves of taxpayer funded libraries, but also being forced upon them in the classroom” she said.
Nicole Solas, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, shared that she was sued by a teachers union after she started digging into what her kindergarten-aged child was learning in school in Rhode Island.
“I asked to see the curriculum, and my school told me I had to submit a public records request. The curriculum wasn’t posted online and it wasn’t available in the school district. Then I asked them if they were teaching gender theory, and they told me that they don’t call children ‘boys and girls,’ and they embed the ideas of gender identity into every classroom, including kindergarten…they told me they would only communicate with me through public records requests,” she explained. She then submitted “hundreds” of public records requests to address all her questions.
“My school board then put my name on the agenda of a public school board meeting and held a public school board meeting to discuss suing me,” she said. “They wanted to send a message to other parents that if you ask questions, they will come after you.” After the meeting, the National Education Association (NEA) filed a lawsuit against Solas.
Another parent, Scott Smith, made headlines last year after he was removed from a Loudoun County school board meeting to speak out about the fact that his daughter was sexually assaulted by “a boy wearing a skirt” in a girls’ school bathroom.
“I’m here today as a father and a taxpayer,” Smith said Wednesday. “I want a future where our children are safe at school and not sexualized, politicized or radicalized.”
“Eighteen months ago I was arrested at a Loudoun County school board meeting. I was restrained, tackled and charged with disorderly conduct and slandered in the media across the world. But my real crime was voicing my concerns as a parent and standing up for my family and my community,” he said. “I went to the school board meeting to speak up for my daughter and to get some answers that we deserved. Instead of putting her safety and the safety of other students first, the Loudoun County school board tried to hide the facts and protect their administrators at all costs. We now know that three girls were attacked by the same now-convicted sexual predator.”
Smith added that the school board has still refused to take accountability for its actions in response to the incident.
“This is an insult to every parent in the district,” he said. “It disrupts the trust we have and keeps the community from healing. No family deserves to be treated this way. Parents deserve answers.”
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik (R), who is a senior member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said that going forward, House Republicans will be “laser-focused on putting parents back in the driver’s seat” when it comes to education.
“We are very proud as Republicans and in this Republican majority to be the party of parents and be the party of students, our next generation of leaders,” Stefanik said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re from Louisiana, Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina or even California,” McCarthy added. “When you have a child, that is the most important thing in your life.”