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Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board Takes Stand Against Parents’ Bill of Rights to Protect LGBTQ+ Students

Source: N.C. McClatchy

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board defied state law on Thursday by not mandating schools to inform parents when their students express a desire to be recognized by a different name or pronoun at school, according to the News & Observer.

The new district policy also lacks a prohibition on classroom instruction concerning gender identity, sexuality, or sexual activity in kindergarten through fourth grade. In August, the state legislature passed the Parents’ Bill of Rights, overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto attempt. This legislation, often dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, is criticized for targeting LGBTQ students and their supportive teachers. North Carolina school districts were required to implement the new rules by January 1, granting parents more control over textbooks and course materials for their children.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro board passed the policy for the first time on Thursday, with a second vote scheduled for a future meeting. Despite acknowledging potential legal consequences for failing to comply with one of the state’s Parents’ Bill of Rights requirements, Board Chair George Griffin asserted the need to stand up for what is morally right. Griffin stated, “My sense is that we do need to stand up and show people that somebody has the courage to say this is just morally wrong, and we’re not going to do it this way.”

While Board member Barbara Fedders attempted to address concerns by proposing language allowing staff to withhold a student’s request from parents in cases of potential abuse or violence, Board Vice Chair Riza Jenkins emphasized the fiscal and legal implications of non-compliance.

The board did not directly address the policy regarding gender and sexuality discussions in elementary school classrooms, but some raised the issue during the public comment period. Advocates argued that elementary school children should be allowed to explore their gender identity without fear and that discussions on these topics are important for creating a safe environment.

The Parents’ Bill of Rights law includes provisions such as educators notifying parents if a student changes their name or pronoun at school, prohibiting instruction about gender identity, sexual activity, and sexuality in grades K-4, and giving parents more control over textbooks and instructional materials. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board has been vocal in opposing this legislation, and despite considering draft policy updates in November, continues to resist its implementation in favor of protecting vulnerable students. Various policies have been revised to meet state requirements, including parental involvement, inspection and objection to instructional materials, comprehensive health education, student health services, criminal behavior rules, student surveys, and staff responsibilities.

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