Source: Editorial Board
New Hanover County Republican Sen. Michael Lee, who won reelection in a closely contested race, has taken his thin margin of victory as a mandate to do his best to push a right-wing agenda that could hurt our state’s children and weaken our schools.
Instead of keeping North Carolina’s children safe and fully funding our schools, Lee is spending his time in Raleigh pushing a far-right bill that will allow the Republican legislature to dictate what our kids are allowed to learn.
Senate Bill 49 targets LGBTQ+ students and would require parents to be notified if their child changes their name or pronouns at school, WRAL reported. The bill would also “banish gender identity, sexual orientation or any other reference to sexuality from classroom materials” in grades K-4.
Experts are warning that SB49, of which Lee is a primary sponsor, could harm LGBTQ+ youths’ mental health, The Associated Press reported.
“My professional opinion as a licensed clinical psychologist is that this bill will make our children less safe,” said Dr. Sarah Wilson, an assistant professor at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Wilson said schools would no longer be safe places for kids to explore their identities.
According to a recent study, more than 1 in 5 North Carolina high school students have seriously considered taking their own lives within the past year. Among LGBTQ+ students, it’s almost 1 in every 2.
Instead of working to fund North Carolina’s K-12 schools, which are the least funded in the entire country, Michael Lee is more concerned with targeting LGBTQ+ children by following in the far-right footsteps of states like Florida.
Lee could have sponsored a bill providing our schools with the resources they need to address the serious mental health needs of North Carolina’s children and ensure that they are safe, such as Senate Bill 74, The Parents and Students Bill of Rights.
Instead, he’s focused on emulating the playbook of a state where teachers now have to hide their books to avoid felony charges, where schools have been ordered to cover or remove classroom books that haven’t been vetted by the right-wing government, where public colleges have had their curriculum censored by Gov. Ron DeSantis and where school districts are being required to “catalog” books to comply with a law backed by DeSantis.
North Carolina’s children and teachers deserve better than Michael Lee and his harmful, right-wing culture war bill.