Critics have dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Supporters call it the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”
House Bill 755, a proposal that would ban elementary schools from teaching K-3 students about gender identity or sexuality, passed the North Carolina Senate in a 28-18 vote on Wednesday. The proposal would also require schools to disclose information to parents involving changes to a student’s name or pronouns, and parents would be notified of any observed changes to a child’s “mental, emotional or physical health or well-being.”
The bill enables parents to be more involved in their children's education regarding gender identity. In addition to requiring principals to consult with parents about textbooks and allowing them to review materials taught in class, the bill outlines procedures for schools to respond to formal complaints made by parents about the curriculum being taught. The latest version of the bill states that if a concern is not resolved within 30 days, the State Board of Education can arrange a hearing between the parents and the educators involved.
HB 755 now goes to the House. If it passes, it will be sent to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has openly criticized the bill and is likely to veto it. Republicans don’t possess the supermajority necessary to overturn a veto—for the veto to be overturned, several Democratic House and Senate members would need to cross party lines.
Supporters of HB 755 say it would promote a greater sense of trust and transparency between parents and schools. An article published by The Senator Berger Press Shop, the press release center for NC Senate Republicans and Sen. Phil Berger, claims the bill would not prevent a student or teacher from mentioning their LGBTQ+ family members or spouses.
“Rather, it prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity as a part of the curriculum in kindergarten through third grade,” the article read.
Opponents maintain that HB 755 marginalizes LGBTQ+ students, a demographic already at an elevated risk of depression and suicidal ideation. Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality NC, a nonprofit LBTQ rights advocacy group, called the bill “an attack on LGBTQ+ youth, educators, and parents” in a May 26 release.
“We know that forced outing and erasure in the curriculum have severe impacts on queer and trans young people’s safety, mental health and well-being, especially poor youth and youth of color,” the release stated.
HB 755 is the latest in a series of LGBTQ+-specific curricular laws passed by conservative lawmakers in recent years. Six states, including Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama, currently have laws that censor discussion of LGBTQ+ people or issues in school, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a non-profit think tank.
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Sevana Wenn is a Trinity sophomore and features managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.