Christian Curriculum

Pennsylvania bill would give parents a say in sexual content in schools

In response to parental outrage over school library books and sexually explicit school curricula, two bills passed this week in the Pennsylvania Senate seek to provide parents with transparency and control over access to these materials.

Books such as “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe; “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie H. Harris; and Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” have been found in elementary through high school libraries in Pennsylvania and across the country. Some were required reading in certain classes. In explicit words and cartoons, the books depict oral sex, harmless recreational drug use, LGBT themes, political activism, and anti-Christian themes.

Pennsylvania’s Republican godfather, the senses. Scott Martin and Ryan Aument, introduced Senate Bill 1277 in a 30-20 vote in the Senate. This would require schools to identify sexually explicit content in curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s lessons include such content. Parents could withdraw their children from sexualized studies programs and they could ask that their children not be able to consult these books in the library.

“The graphic nature of the images in these books are so extreme that adults would be prohibited from viewing them in the workplace,” Aument told the Senate. “Opponents of this bill continue to defend these books, saying they reflect the full multicultural nature of the world, and are inclusive and empowering for our children. Last I checked, providing porn to elementary school kids is not inclusive. It’s disgusting. And it is wrong.

Republican Pennsylvania Senator Ryan Aument is advocating for parents to control the sexual content their children may encounter in school materials. (Courtesy of Pennsylvania Senate GOP)

He challenged anyone to review the images of these books and state that they believe 6-year-olds should have unrestricted access to them without their parents’ knowledge.

“If a student drew such explicit images, they would be suspended. If a student brought a book from a house with these explicit images, they would be reprimanded,” Aument said.

Early gender identity lessons would be banned

They also advanced Senate Bill 1278 in a 29-21 vote in the Senate. It would ban classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. This is consistent with the timeline for when existing academic standards on general sex education begin in sixth grade.

“It’s about making sure that parents are included and informed about what’s going on with their child at school, and that they’re not intentionally kept in the dark,” Martin told the Senate.

“Senate Bill 1278 is intended to give parents the ability to view any surveys or questionnaires in advance and to remove their child if they wish. This is to say that it is not appropriate to seek the opportunity to teach young children between kindergarten and fifth grade about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom, especially without their knowledge. parents.

“Now, if a student has questions or concerns about their own identity or orientation and initiates the conversation with school staff, they are not prohibited from having that conversation and obtaining from the student relevant services. But again, parents need to be informed. Somewhere along the line, someone started thinking that maybe not all parents understand, or that somehow parents wouldn’t have in mind the best interests of their child.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of parents love and support their children and want to be involved in giving them any help they might need,” Martin said.

Martin added that if there is a serious concern about parental abuse or the abandonment of a child, the school is exempt from providing this notification, but if the school is so concerned about the welfare of the child child, she should contact child protective services.

Both senators heard from concerned parents.

“A Chester County School District Asking Elementary School Teachers Not To Disclose Information About Children That Question Their Gender To Parents; a teacher reporting that a Philadelphia school allowed volunteers to talk to elementary students about LGBTQ issues without the parents’ knowledge; and mothers of Allegheny County freshmen who are suing their school district for teaching gender dysphoria without parental knowledge or consent — these are just a small sample of the dozens of complaints that we have received from concerned Commonwealth parents,” the senators said. in a joint statement. “While we disagree on what moral, ideological and religious values ​​to teach our children or not, we can certainly agree that it is up to the parents to decide, not the government.”

The bills now go to the House Education Committee.

Governor Tom Wolf and his commission on LGBTQ affairs have denounced SB 1278, calling it a “don’t say gay” bill similar to recently enacted legislation in Florida.

“We at the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs know that the appearance of calling LGBTQ people and topics ‘age-inappropriate’ is really just an act of fear,” said Rafael Álvarez. Febo, executive director of the Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, in a statement referring to Pennsylvania’s SB 1278. and the Florida bill. “Bills like these will force LGBTQ teachers to conceal their identities and remove all resources available to LGBTQ youth from schools. Even more alarmingly, these bills have encouraged far-right hate groups to mobilize to commit violence against LGBTQ people.

Wolf is expected to veto SB 1278, but it’s unclear how he will react to SB 1277.

Beth Brelje

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Beth Brelje is an investigative reporter covering Pennsylvania politics, the courts, and the Commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]