House Republicans pass the Parental Rights Bill

House Republicans pass the Parental Rights Bill

House Republicans passed an education bill on Friday emphasizing parental rights in the classroom, leaning toward a heated culture war issue that has gained popularity in GOP politics nationwide.

The legislation, titled the Parental Rights Act, passed by a vote of 213-208 and is now heading to the Senate for consideration. However, the Democratic-controlled chamber is unlikely to take the measure, as House Democrats have dubbed the bill the "Politics on Parents Act."

Republicans Andy Biggs (Arizona), Ken Buck (Colorado), Matt Gaetz (Florida), Mike Lawler (NY), and Matt Rosendale (Mont.) all sided with the voting Democrats in opposing the measure.

This measure would require schools to make their curriculum public, mandate that parents be allowed to meet their children's teachers, and have schools provide information to parents when violence occurs on school grounds.

Parents will also be required to receive a list of books and reading materials accessible in the school library and give parents a say when schools formulate or update their student privacy policies and procedures, among other principles.

While Democratic-Republicans have been accused of painting parents as a threat and in the wake of controversial school board meetings across the country, the legislation also states that school and government officials "should never seek to use law enforcement to criminalize legally expressed concerns." on parents' concerns about their children's education," and that "the First Amendment guarantees parents and other stakeholders the right to assemble and express their views on decisions affecting their children and their communities."

"This bill is not complicated or complicated," said Julia Littlelaw (R-N.), co-sponsor of the bill, during a House debate Thursday. "It should not be partisan or polarizing, and contrary to what you might 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."

"It's not an attempt to get Congress to dictate their curriculum or limit the books in the library," she continued. "Instead, this law aims to bring more transparency and accountability into education, allowing parents to be informed and when they have questions and concerns to be brought legally to their local school boards."

The chamber also approved several amendments to the bill, including one sponsored by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Col.) that says parents have the right to know if the school their children attend operates, sponsors, or facilitates the sports programs or activities they allow, for girls or transgender women to participate in a sport that does not correspond to their assigned sex at birth.

Another approved amendment, also sponsored by Boebert, states that parents have the right to know if their child's school allows a transgender girl or woman to use a bathroom or changing room that does not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.

Littlelow introduced the legislation in 2021 when education emerged as a controversial issue amid protests at school board meetings that criticized COVID-19 restrictions, curricula and books on gender and sexuality, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. She proposed the measure after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) won his race on a platform that focused on education and parental rights, making him the first Republican to win a statewide election in Old Dominion in more than a decade.

However, the measure did not get a vote in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives during the last Congress, prompting Littlelow to reintroduce it at the beginning of March. House Republicans pledged during the 2022 campaign cycle to advance the legislation if they would win a majority in November.

Although the bill is unlikely to gain traction in the Democratic-controlled Senate, Republicans will almost certainly use a House vote to fuel attacks against Democrats on education, becoming an increasingly important issue as the cycle approaches. 2024 elections. Republicans have sought to portray Democrats as working to prevent parents from educating their children.

House Democrats argued this week that the GOP bill does not give parents any new educational rights and might make it easier to ban books in schools.

More than 1,600 books were banned in schools and libraries during the 2021-2022 school year, according to a report by PEN America, with most bans occurring in Texas and Florida. A number of the banned books included LGBTQ topics and dealt with issues of race and racism.

"This legislation has nothing to do with parental involvement, parental involvement," House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said in House Room T.

Friday. "Parental empowerment has to do with jamming radical Republican MAGA ideology down the throats of children and parents of the USA."

"I think what we're seeing here today is the Republicans' attempt, the Republican Party's attempt, to take some of the most egregious legislation we've seen at the state level to attack transgender, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as well as people from marginalized communities," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) during Thursday's "Right to School" debate.

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