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NC General Assembly overrides veto on 'Parents' Bill of Rights'

North Carolina legislative building
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Republicans in the North Carolina House have overridden Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the "Parents Bill of Rights."

Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance) sponsored Senate Bill 49 and spoke in favor of it on the Senate floor Wednesday evening.

"Perhaps the most important single line in Senate Bill 49 is... where it says that parents have the right to direct the upbringing and more moral or religious training of his or her child," Galey said.

She acknowledged that the most controversial parts of the bill would bar instruction on gender identity or sexuality in kindergarten through fourth grade and would require schools to notify a parent if their child changes their name or pronouns.

The WUNC Politics Podcast is a free-flowing discussion of what we're hearing in the back hallways of the General Assembly and on the campaign trail across North Carolina.

Opponents of the bill have said those provisions could make LGBTQ students or families feel erased or excluded in classrooms and could endanger transgender students who fear being outed to their parents.

Galey called those concerns a "red herring" because parents could already be notified about a student's pregnancy, drug use, failing grades or possible sexually transmitted disease.

"We do not hear a great outcry that parents would terrorize their children when confronted with this bad news," Galey said. "Why is it different with the issue of pronouns or name changes?"

"Parents have the right to know what is going on with their children, period," Galey added. "Employees of the state public school employees must not be allowed to just conspire against parents to hide truth about their children."

Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg) gave a rebuttal, calling the entire bill a "red herring" from the practical issues public schools are facing.

"It's not just bad policy," Marcus said. "It's a distraction from what we should be working on."

Marcus said when she speaks to her constituents, most parents care more about school funding, teacher and school staff vacancies, and support for students' mental health and safety than about the contents of this bill.

"None of them have said to me that they want the public school system to deny the existence, equality, and basic humanity of LGBTQ people so that their children won't have to hear mention of people like that," Marcus said.

Marcus said the bill will "discourage teachers, make them more likely to leave the profession, and will make LGBTQ students and their families feel targeted and excluded."

The North Carolina Association of Educators said in a statement that: "We are very disappointed in today’s vote and worried for our students, especially those who are LGBTQ+. Today’s vote won’t change the fact that the vast majority of North Carolina parents trust educators’ judgment in the classroom."

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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