COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new bill could change the way parents are involved in their child’s school.
House Bill 722, or the “Parents’ Bill Of Rights Act,” is already being met with some backlash, but Representative Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) said it is all about helping parents be more involved in their child’s life.
“We’re not trying to be vague,” Carruthers said. “We’re not trying to cast dispersions on anybody. We’re trying to help kids and parents in schools.”
The new bill would allow parents to review lessons that include “sexually explicit content,” and give the parents the option to opt their student out of the lesson.
“I think every random parent having the right to show up and say, ‘I don’t want this to be taught,’ is really a recipe for disaster, because I think, of course, every parent has a different idea of what the public school curriculum should look like,” Public Policy Director for Equality Ohio, Maria Bruno, said.
NBC4’s Natalie Fahmy asked Carruthers if she thinks skipping out on health class lessons, for example, could be harmful for the student.
“Well, I suppose so, however, kids will be kids and they’re going to learn it. They’re going to learn it from other kids, you know that, and I know that,” Carruthers said. “They’re going to hear it, somehow, they’re going to get it. I don’t really think it’s going to be that harmful.”
“Parents have a choice of where they drop their kids off every day and where they send their kids for education,” Bruno said. “But once they make that choice, they don’t have the right to dictate a public-school curriculum.”
Carruthers said she just wants to ensure students are learning the content at appropriate ages.
She points to the Ohio Revised Code, to define sexual content, but those opposing the bill don’t think the line is clear enough.
“Someone might find that any mention of genitals is sexual content, there are plenty of reasons someone studying basic biology might be discussing genitals for example,” Bruno said. “We just don’t know what would trigger a parent to respond that way.”
The bill also would require school staff to notify parents of any change in the students’ mental, emotional of physical health. The bill would allow that information to be withheld from the parent if the school staff believes it would result in abuse or neglect, but the bill says that should not be based off a parent’s political or religious beliefs.
“Even if this has the best of intentions, there is real harm that would be created by forcing counselors to reveal any stray through a kid has that might not be consistent with what the parent feels is right,” Bruno said.
“If you get picked up by the police, perhaps shoplifting, maybe not even doing anything wrong, maybe lost, who do they call,” Carruthers said. “Do they call the school, find out their pronouns?”
Carruthers said this bill is not about outing LGBTQ students, she just wants parents and schools to work hand in hand.
“They’re not the only ones that can be offended. I’m offended they think this is what that’s about,” Carruthers said. “This isn’t about that. Everything isn’t about the LGBTQ.”