Local Republican lawmakers in North Carolina on Wednesday advanced a bill that would restrict classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in the state’s K-4 public schools.
Critics decried the legislation as “broad anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum censorship” similar to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bars the inclusion of LGBTQ teachings in early primary education.
Officially titled “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” the North Carolina bill is similar to a law that passed the state Senate last year but failed to get a hearing in the House — after receiving widespread backlash.
Last year’s version imposed curriculum restrictions on kids up to third grade. This year’s bill also includes kids in fourth grade.
LGBTQ rights advocates are urging state lawmakers to reject the legislation, which would require school staff to notify parents if a student comes out as transgender or nonbinary.
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“The bill would cause serious harm to LGBTQ+ students, making them vulnerable to forced outing and erasure in school curriculum,” Equality North Carolina said in a statement.
“Like all students, LGBTQ+ students are entitled to learn and thrive in a safe environment and deserve protection and support from their schools. Policies like this NC version of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ would force schools to violate that most basic trust,” the organization added.
Sponsors of the bill say the legislation is simply designed to grant parents greater authority over their kids’ education.
“It baffles me to think that this bill could be divisive,” Republican Sen. Amy Galey, said in a press conference, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“Quite frankly I cannot understand why it would be controversial to say that children 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 years old should not be taught about sexuality, sexual activity in public school classrooms — that blows my mind,” she added.
The bill now heads to the Senate health care committee.
With News Wire Services
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