NC bill on gender, sexuality and schools may be off the table for now at General Assembly

Speaker of the House says there aren't enough votes to pass the "Parents' Bill of Rights," and his chamber may not take it up.

Posted Updated
NC Legislative Building
Travis Fain
, WRAL state government reporter

North Carolina House Republicans may not bring a bill limiting the way educators talk about sexuality to the floor this legislative session, a top lawmaker said Wednesday, potentially killing it for the year.

Speaker of the House Tim Moore said that there aren’t enough votes to make the measure law. Every Republican in the state House of Representatives likely supports the bill, Moore said, but it would take yes votes from three Democrats to survive an expected veto from Gov. Roy Cooper, and the bill doesn’t have them.

“We’ve really not decided if we are going to move it in the short session,” Moore said. “We don’t see a pathway, necessarily, to it becoming law.

“If we feel like we’re going to fall short on some votes, I don’t know that it’s something we’re going to undertake, but it’s not been completely determined,” the speaker said.

It’s not unusual for the majority party to approve bills knowing the governor will veto them and that the General Assembly’s minority party will back the governor. That’s often a strategic play for bills that lawmakers believe will fire up their supporters ahead of an election because it puts both sides on record.

But Moore, R-Cleveland, said Wednesday that this issue “doesn’t need to be a political football” and that it can wait until next year, when he hopes the Republican majority will expand into a super majority that can pass legislation over the Democratic governor’s veto. Every seat in the General Assembly is up for election in November.

“We’re feeling very bullish about next year and about the super majority,” Moore said. “[This is] the kind of issue that we can take up in next year’s session.”

The measure, House Bill 755, would ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity from the state’s public school curriculum for kindergarten through third grade. It would also require public schools 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.

This second requirement worries LGBTQ advocates who say not every student is ready to tell their parents that they’re gay or transgender, and that not every student is supported at home. The bill’s Republican sponsors say parents have a right to know what’s going on with their children, and that educators should not be keeping secrets.

Republican Sen. Phil Berger, the Senate leader, said Wednesday that he’d like to see the bill get a vote in the House this year. It cleared the Senate June 1 on a 28-18 vote, with one Democrat voting yes.

“[The House] will do what they’re going to do,” Berger said. “I think the bill ought to pass.”

Moore suggested Wednesday that at least some of the bill may not be necessary, saying state law already governs when it’s appropriate to discuss sexuality in schools.

“There’s a thought out there that the current law right now may even address a lot of this,” he said.


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