A Texas lawmaker on Tuesday introduced a parental rights bill that would ban classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation to K-8 students in all public schools.
The bill, HB 1155, would prohibit school districts from providing instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity to students in kindergarten through eighth grade or to older children in a way that is not age-appropriate.
The legislation would also require school districts to keep parents informed about their child’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being, including what health services they are receiving at school. Districts may not discourage parental involvement in health decisions, and any well-being questionnaire given to K-8 students would need parental consent. Parents would also be given the opportunity to decline health-related services for their child.
The bill was introduced by state Representative Jared Patterson, a Republican who has represented the area just north of Fort Worth in the Texas House since 2019.
Parental rights are paramount to the safety and well-being of a child. Therefore, I filed HB 1155 to ensure no school teaches radical gender ideology to any child from K -8th grade, and where parents must review and sign-off on any health-related services.https://t.co/dzsfP7RYpa
— Rep. Jared Patterson (@JaredLPatterson) January 3, 2023
The new rules are aimed at “protecting the youngest and most vulnerable children from unscientific, inaccurate, and inappropriate information,” his office said in a press release accompanying the bill’s introduction.
“The sexualization of our children must stop. Parents and taxpayers have spoken loudly over the past year-plus. The message is no more radical ideology in the classroom – particularly when it comes to inappropriate or obscene content,” Patterson said.
“Given what we’ve uncovered, this bill is needed to provide parents with the maximum transparency and control over health-related services in our schools,” Patterson said.
Patterson’s office described his bill as an “improved” version of Florida’s parental rights bill, which was dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents. The Florida bill prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill in March as Florida was becoming the epicenter of the education culture war.
A majority of the American public supports Florida’s parental rights law, according to a March poll, including majorities of both Republican and Democratic voters.
If signed into law, the Texas bill would take effect this fall when the 2023-2024 school year begins.
Over the last few years and especially since the pandemic, frustrated parents have sounded off about a litany of issues in their school districts, including sexual curriculum content, gender ideology, school safety, and learning loss.
In November, a Michigan school district agreed to pull several pornographic books from school libraries after the local Muslim community expressed outrage.
Back in April, the parents of a pair of siblings sued Massachusetts school officials for allegedly hiding both their pre-teen children’s gender transitions from their parents. A federal judge, an Obama appointee, threw out the parents’ lawsuit last month.
In Texas, controversy has erupted in multiple school districts over sexually explicit books being available to children. In 2021, Governor Greg Abbott ordered an investigation into “the availability of pornography” in public schools, saying any criminal activity should be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”
Dozens of parents also took their frustration to the campaign trail this election cycle. Moms and dads across the country launched passionate school board campaigns focusing on parental rights. Many of them won their races, securing a seat on their local school board and in some cases even flipping the board.