Democratic-led panel kills ‘parental rights’ bills on school books, gender identity
Speaker says ‘parents should have a role in teaching their children’
A Democratic-led Senate committee on Thursday killed multiple bills from House Republicans that aimed to increase parental oversight in public schools.
The votes continue a trend of lawmakers of both parties opposing each other’s controversial legislation and killing them in committee hearings.
Bills defeated by the Senate Education and Health Committee included proposals to require that parents be notified and allowed to opt their children out of presentations or performances by outside groups and mandate parental involvement in the crafting of library policies.
“As was pointed out in testimony, our school divisions already have the authority to identify materials that may be deemed objectionable,” said Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Richmond. “We have two county school divisions that have already moved to remove some books. Our local school divisions have this authority and they are already doing it.”
House Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, castigated Democrats for the votes Thursday, saying in a statement that “common sense, parental involvement bills just have no place in today’s Democratic Party.”
“Democrats made it clear yesterday that they’re still in Terry McAuliffe’s camp, and don’t think that parents should have a role in teaching their children,” said Gilbert, referring to former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s remarks during the 2021 gubernatorial race that parents shouldn’t decide what schools teach.
Del. Tim Anderson, R-Virginia Beach, who carried a bill that requires explicit content in school libraries to be electronically cataloged and lets parents restrict children’s access to it, also criticized the decisions, saying controversial books such as the LGBTQ-themed graphic novel “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and Margaret Atwood’s widely celebrated dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” contain graphic content inappropriate for minors.
“The content of the books are so graphic they cannot be broadcast on television or handed out to children in non-library settings, because doing so would be criminal under Virginia law as the material is so graphic it falls in the category of harmful to juveniles,” Anderson said. “I could not be more disappointed with legislators rejecting the concept that parents know what is best for their children and that granting parents the right to restrict their child from having access to these materials is in the best interest of the parent and child relationship.”
READ MORE ON VIRGINIAMERCURY.COM >>
Copyright 2023 WWBT. All rights reserved.