A so-called Parents Bill of Rights that passed the House but died in the Senate last year is back. And if it passes, it will change education as we know it, giving parents the ability to opt out of state guidance on a variety of sensitive topics.
Rep. Erin Grall, who carried the House version to a largely party line 77-41 vote, is carrying this year’s version (HB 241).
The bill would block state or other governments from limiting a parent’s right to direct the moral and religious upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of his or her child.
This aspirational goal left House Democrats cold in 2020, with legislators saying their constituents “feared” what this legislation could do to vulnerable populations.
The bill, which could limit student access to sex education and other similarly charged topics, gives parents rights to information even when their children are in school, positing that “important information relating to a minor child should not be withheld, either inadvertently or purposefully, from his or her parent, including information relating to the minor child’s health, well-being, and education, while the minor child is in the custody of the school district.”
Barring a “narrowly defined … state interest,” the legislation defines parental prerogatives regarding how to educate the child (including homeschooling), how to guide the child’s religious education, the right to see all school or governmental records of the child, and a consent requirement ahead of taking the child’s blood or DNA.
The bill could make it easier for parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children. Supporters say it’s necessary to ensure parents retain the right to raise their children independent of government interference while also maintaining reasonable child welfare protections. But critics worry it could strip kids of inclusive education.
The legislation blocks students from receiving medical care unless schools have their parents’ consent or in the event of a medical emergency. The bill could give parents additional authority to object to classroom materials and opt their children out of learning some health education information like sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS.
The bill died in Senate committee last year. Sen. Ray Rodrigues will carry it this year.