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NC Democrats Fight For Parents’ And Students’ Rights

Source: Editorial Board

Democrats in the state House and Senate have come together to craft a pair of bills aimed at protecting the rights of students and parents. The proposals are in direct contrast to recent Republican-backed discriminatory legislation

Presented at a press conference on Tuesday, Democrats from both chambers unveiled House Bill 58 and Senate Bill 74, titled “Parents’ and Students’ Bill of Rights,” which were filed earlier this week. 

The two bills are identical and establish 10 parental rights around children’s “upbringing, education, healthcare and mental health,” along with 14 student rights that take steps to ensure a “learning environment in which discrimination in all forms is not tolerated by the public school unit or school administration, school police or security personnel, or students.”

The bills also include provisions that address issues such as gun violence in schools, funding gaps, and students’ mental health and safety. 

Senate Bill 74 calls back to the Leandro Plan, in which classrooms are to be fully resourced “with the tools and technology to deliver curriculum requirements as required by the North Carolina Constitution.”

SB 74 further outlines student rights including “access to extracurricular activities, gang violence prevention, peer-based mediation” and “the opportunity to organize themselves and be represented by their peers in important school decision-making processes,” among others.

These bills are in stark contrast to state Republicans’ Senate Bill 49, which blatantly targets LGBTQ+ students and attempts to pit parents and teachers against each other. 

“Like so many parents, my number one priority in life is the health, safety, and well-being of my children,” stated Rep. Vernetta Alston, (D-Durham). “Instead, my Senate colleagues are debating bills like Senate Bill 49…a bill that will harm our students, especially our LGBTQ students who will only be more vulnerable and more isolated at school if Senate Bill 49 passes.”

According to experts, state Republicans’ Senate Bill 49 would cause serious harm to LGBTQ+ students, making them vulnerable to forced outing and erasure in school curriculum. With state Republicans holding a majority in the Senate, SB 49 passed along party lines despite the harms vocalized by parents, students, educators, and advocates.

“It just sends the message that they don’t want us here. They don’t want us to be open about our identities,” Callum Bradford, a 16-year-old transgender high school student, told Cardinal & Pine. “I think that that’s a very hurtful message. I know of a lot of other people that are feeling the same way—that it’s almost like they’re trying to erase history and erase the LGBTQ community.”

Gov. Roy Cooper has expressed his opposition to the harmful bill, stating, “Not only are these kinds of bills wrong in and of themselves — because they hurt people — but they also have the great potential to hurt our economy, and to upset this balance that we created in the state that’s been so successful. Why would you want to run the train off the track?”

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