LGBTQ+ advocates protest amid Senate vote on Parents' Bill of Rights legislation

The North Carolina Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on House Bill 755--better known by sponsors as the Parents' Bill of Rights.

Posted Updated

Laura Leslie
, WRAL capitol bureau chief
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on House Bill 755—better known by sponsors as the Parents' Bill of Rights.

Advocates for LGBTQIA+ students, who came to the legislative building to protest on Tuesday, say they are worried the bill will put students' lives at risk—as well as their right to privately discuss gender identity or sexual orientation in a safe space.

The bill would ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity from the curriculum for kindergarten through third grade. It would also require the school to notify parents if any student, regardless of grade, begins to question their sexual identity in school—such as if a student asks to use a different name or pronoun to describe themselves.

Parents would also need to be notified if a student comes to a teacher or school staff with concerns about mental or emotional health, including any discussion of sexual orientation.

The bill is expected to be on the Senate floor for a vote as soon as Wednesday in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

Among the protestors Tuesday was Vince Haywood, a pastor at St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church, who came to speak against the bill.

He says LGBTQIA+ kids are already at higher risk of suicide, and this will only make it worse. “Bills like this continue to exacerbate those numbers,” he said.

Even high school students would be affected; their parents would be alerted if they discussed exploring any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality, or any gender identity other than the sex they were identified as at birth.

Haywood says the bill forces teachers and schools to indoctrinate students to be straight.

Some supporters of the proposed legislation say students are more likely to have successful outcomes in life when parents are more involved.

"Parents have a fundamental right on upbringing of their children. This bill will help to ensure those rights are acknowledged and followed," said John Rustin, president of NC Family Policy Council.

Legislative sponsors say the bill ensures that parents are kept informed of what's going on in their children's lives at school, and that it ensures instruction will be age appropriate.

Forcing students 'out'
Protesters fear the bill could force students into coming out to their families before they are ready. Many studies show LGBTQIA+ youth make up a staggeringly disproportionate number of homeless youth. While some students may find their parents supportive, protesters fear some students forced to 'come out' may find themselves in dangerous situations.

It could create a scenario in which students, afraid to be outed to their families, are afraid to ask questions or learn about their own identities, Haywood said.

"It's creating an environment where we're telling folks that it's not OK to be yourself,” Haywood said. “You have to hide parts of who you are. We're forcing people to live a lie, and we're promoting poor health, mental health."

Eloise Robinson, a grandmother and former teacher of kindergarten, second and third grade, says she's concerned about kids not learning because the curriculum is "full of things that are political and sexual."

"When you water down the curriculum with political ideology and try to indoctrinate children, the teachers can’t do their job," she said. "When I taught kindergarten, I never had a kid tell me they’re gay or wanted to change sex. These kids believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny."

She thinks topics like sexual orientation and gender identity are not age appropriate, especially in the younger grades.


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