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Parents’ Bill of Rights may be shelved with no clear-cut route to override a likely veto

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, conducts a House session. (Image from N.C. General Assembly YouTube channel)

By Theresa Opeka

Carolina Journal

The Parents’ Bill of Rights bill already passed by the North Carolina Senate may not come to the North Carolina House floor for a vote before the end of the short session House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said after Wednesday’s House session.

While nothing is set in stone, Moore said there likely aren’t enough votes to make H.B.755 into law, with at least three votes needed from House Democrats to override a likely veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

He said with the way political dynamics are, they have to make a calculation about the number of necessary votes and the House currently doesn’t see a necessary pathway for the bill to become law because not enough Democratic members have indicated they would support an override of Cooper’s likely veto.

The Senate passed the bill along party lines on June 1, with a vote of 28-18. Republican supporters say the measure, a committee substitute for House Bill 755, is needed to protect children and ensure that parents have knowledge about what their kids are being taught in public schools. Democrats, on the other hand, claim the bill would create a discriminatory environment against LGBTQ youth.

The part of the bill that has drawn the most heated debate directs that issues like gender identity and sexual orientation may not be a part of the official curriculum until after third grade. There would be no ban on incidental discussion of the topic in lower grades, but official curriculum may not address those issues, under the bill.

More broadly speaking, the measure would affirm a set of parental rights, including the right to direct the education of their child and access to healthcare records. The measure also establishes a parent’s right to request information about what their child is learning in school, including lessons, textbooks, tutoring services, and other details about how their child and their school are operating.

Parents would additionally be informed of any health-care services their child receives, including any changes to their child’s physical or mental health, and whether their child requests a change in their name or pronouns.

The idea of a Parents’ Bill of Rights is a popular one with likely voters. A recent Civitas poll found that 57% of likely N.C. voters support such a measure compared to just 24% who are opposed.

The John Locke Foundation has proposed a Parents’ Bill of Rights that would safeguard the right of parents to direct their children’s education and protect their safety in the classroom. The bill of rights stipulates that every parent has a right to:

  • Direct their child’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

  • Direct how and where their child is educated.

  • Transparency when dealing with their child’s teachers and school.

  • A classroom and school environment that is safe and nurtures their child’s well-being.

  • Be actively engaged in their child’s education.

  • Resources and accountability of school districts, administrators, and teachers.

Moore said Republicans are feeling “very bullish” about obtaining a supermajority in the General Election and this issue can be taken up in next year’s session. He also added there are current state laws that address when it is appropriate to talk about issues of this kind in schools and that parts of the bill may not be necessary.

The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting a meeting.

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