The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill that could restrict materials available in school libraries and require schools to get parental consent before referring to a trans or nonbinary child with the correct pronouns and first name.
H.R. 5, the “Parents Bill of Rights Act,” would require schools to list all “books and other reading materials available in the library” on a website or another place that parents can access. The provision echoes debates in school board meetings over the past several years over books by LGBTQ+ authors and about racism that many conservative parents have sought to ban, but the bill does not call for banning any book in particular.
The bill contains a list of information that schools must provide for parents in “an understandable format.” The list includes a “right to know if a school employee or contractor acts to change a minor child’s gender markers, pronouns, or preferred name; or allow a child to change the child’s sex-based accommodations, including locker rooms or bathrooms,” which would effectively require schools to out trans kids to their parents if they asked to be addressed with the correct pronouns or name.
Schools will lose federal funding under the bill if they don’t obtain parental consent before using a student’s correct pronouns and name. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) introduced an amendment requiring schools to alert parents if a trans student is allowed to use girls’ facilities or join a girls’ school sports team.
The long list also includes a few broad demands on schools, like that they make “the curriculum” of the school available to parents, as well as “any professional development materials” and “any plans to eliminate gifted and talented programs.”
“Republicans are making a mockery out of parents’ rights and parent voice,” said National Parents Union President Keri Rodrigues, which opposes the bill.
“This Republican bill is asking the government to force the outing of LGBT people before they are ready,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said in a floor debate on the bill, which she called “the Republican party’s attempt to take some of the most heinous legislation that we are seeing passed on the state level to attack our trans and LGBT, as well as people from marginalized communities’, right to exist in schools.”
The bill “includes two provisions that require schools to out trans, nonbinary, and LGBT, even if it would put said youth in harm’s way,” she continued. “One of the highest rates of youth homelessness is in the LGBT community from parents who want to kick their children out.”
She brought up similar legislation passed by some states and said that opening up schools to more challenges to books in libraries and the curriculum, which she said led to a proposed ban on a book called The Life of Rosa Parks.
“This apparently is too woke by the Republican Party,” she said, referring to how the book was banned in Duval County, Florida, possibly because it described racism faced by Black people in the United States.
While the bill could pass the Republican-controlled House, it is not expected to pass the Democratic Senate.
The only LGBTQ+ member of Congress to come out in support of the bill is Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who is a co-sponsor of the bill.