HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Two bills that would “address discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in Pennsylvania schools” has passed the Pennsylvania State Senate Education Committee.
Both of the bills passed the education committee 7-4 on Tuesday afternoon.
State Senators Scott Martin and Ryan Aument, both Republicans representing Lancaster County, say the bill would pertain to age-inappropriate conversations in elementary schools.
According to the senators, the proposals would, among other things:
• Prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through
fifth grade students
• Require adherence to existing state standards of age-appropriate content for any discussions of gender
identity and sexual orientation that occur in grades 6-12.
• Prohibit a school from withholding information from parents in accordance with existing state and
• Increase transparency by requiring public schools to develop a policy for notifying parents when there is
a change to a student’s services or monitoring.
• Protect students in the LGBTQ community by providing critical exemptions if it can be reasonably
demonstrated that parental notification would result in abuse or abandonment of a minor.
The senators say the bill is different from the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill and “would not ban all discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in school settings” or prohibit teachers from having conversations or offering support services to students facing issues related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
“It’s important to note that Senate Bill 1278 does nothing to prohibit organic, student-initiated discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity for any age group,” said both senators. “Our goal is certainly not to ostracize, demonize, or harm LGBTQ students in any way; rather, we want to find a fair solution that honors the very real concerns of parents that these sensitive topics are consistently being taught without their consent or knowledge to elementary school students.”
“While we recognize that safe, structured discussions about these topics are foundational to students of a mature age in the LGBTQ community, we also recognize that it is unlikely that all parents in a single school district will be able to reach a consensus on how and when to have these pivotal discussions with their young children,” said both senators. “We must work to find solutions that empower parents to educate their own children on these sensitive topics at their own pace without having their hand forced by the public school system. We believe our bill appropriately balances the needs of parents, children, and members of the LGBTQ community.”