Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey Democrat, has called out Republican representatives from New Jersey for supporting legislation with discriminatory undertones.
“The so-called ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ aims to codify federal education law to give parents and legal guardians access to school curricula, library books, and other teaching materials. The bill also mandates a standard number of parent-teacher meetings and gives parents advance notice prior to medical or mental health screenings.
McCormick criticized the Republicans, saying they were ignoring the epidemic of teen suicide and bullying, which the bill would worsen.
She argued that the GOP education agenda would encourage bullying against gay and trans children, motivate parents to try to ban books, and encourage everyone to bring guns into classrooms.
McCormick specifically named Reps. Jefferson Van Drew and Christopher H. Smith as cosponsors of the bill, while Rep. Thomas H. Kean Jr. joined them in voting for the legislation when it passed the House on a 213-208 vote.
According to McCormick, the Republicans’ proposed law would give parents the power to censor teachers and ban books, which would negatively impact LGBTQ+ teens and girls who are experiencing high rates of mental distress, violence, and substance abuse.
Democrats argued that many of the requirements in the measure are already in place at public schools, and the bill would not give parents any more rights than they already have. Instead, the bill would introduce religious indoctrination in local public schools and censor books and other teaching materials.
“The bill’s supporters call it a ‘parents bill of rights,’ another example of the deceptive but familiar ploy of using popular, digestible labels to disguise unpopular and destructive schemes,” said a statement from the National Education Association, which is made up of teachers and urged educators to speak out against right-wing lawmakers who are attempting to sow distrust between parents and schools by imposing book bans and curriculum restrictions.
The Biden administration has said that it does not support the bill in its current form because the bill does not actually help parents support their children at school. Instead of making LGBTQ+ students feel included in their school community, the bill puts them at higher risk.
The Administration strongly supports actions that empower parents to engage with their children’s teachers and schools, like enabling parents to take time off to attend school meetings. Legislation should not politicize our children’s education. It should deliver the resources that schools and families actually need.
In conclusion, McCormick argued that the Republicans’ proposed law would do more harm than good and urged them to reconsider their support for the bill.
“Republicans would like to pit parents and families against their kids’ teachers and schools, who have unfairly been called ‘groomers’ and pedophiles,” said McCormick. “The GOP prey on fear and lies because the truth would make them bigger losers than they already are.”
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