(The Center Square) – New Hampshire legislation proposing a “parents’ bill of rights in education” is moving out of a House panel without a recommendation because of a split vote along partisan lines.
The House Education Committee on Tuesday deliberated Senate Bill 272. As proposed, it would set in motion a list of student-specific circumstances that would invoke notifying parents and guardians.
After a lengthy series of deliberations and testimony, the committee deadlocked 10-10 on an “ought to pass” motion from all of the Republican committee members.
Failing to garner majority support, a subsequent “inexpedient to legislate” motion was presented. However, it failed on a 10-10 vote that netted sole support from the Democratic members on the committee.
The split votes on both motions mean SB272 is moving to the House floor without a firm recommendation.
Mirroring debates heard across many corners of the country, SB272 reflects the partisan division concerning the roles and rights of public educators – particularly in such sensitive cases as gender and sexual identity – and when parents and guardians should be notified.
Advocates have asserted that legislation such as SB272 formalizes the rights parents and guardians have with their children. Proponents, however, say such a bill creates an unnecessarily adversarial role and could jeopardize minors struggling with mental health issues.
SB272 includes a 16-point list of parental rights, with several provisions directly addressing gender and sexual identity.
One provision, for instance, states that parents and guardians have “the right to inquire of the school or school personnel and to be truthfully and completely informed if their child is being identified by any name other than the name under which the child was enrolled in the school.”
Another passage states that parents and guardians have “the right to inquire of the school or school personnel and to be truthfully and completely informed if the child is being identified or referred to by school district staff, as being of a gender other than that of which the child was identified or referred when enrolled.”
The list also touches on other rights, including notification whenever a student has been disciplined, reviewing curriculum or instructional materials, and achievement data.
Before voting, one committee member on each side of the argument was allowed to provide testimony.
State Rep. Arlene Quaratiello, R-Atkinson, argued that SB272 stands on its own merit because it is based on truth and provides such a basis between parents and the school community.
“It is not, I believe, outing a specific group of people,” Quaratiello said. “All this bill asks for is truthful answers to parents’ questions, and I believe that facilitates a partnership.”
But state Rep. Linda Tanner, D-Georges Mills, provided a different take on the bill, arguing it places a wedge between parents and educators.
“SB272 is part of a national political movement to disrupt, dismantle, and defame teachers and our public schools,” Tanner said. “Parents are being led into believing that they are being lied to, denied rights, and are being mistreated by teachers in our schools.”