Two Pennsylvania state senators will introduce a bill to restrict teaching on gender identity and sexual orientation in Pennsylvania schools.
The bill is a response to concerns voiced by parents who say age-inappropriate conversations about these topics are occurring prematurely – in elementary school classrooms.
Last week, Republican state senators Scott Martin and Ryan Aument announced the “Empowering Families in Education” legislation prohibiting classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students.
“Some of these discussions that concerned parents have brought to our attention are formal and led by the teacher, while others are organic and initiated by students,” Martin and Aument said in a statement. “But many of these discussions are occurring without the knowledge or consent of the parents, and we believe this is wrong.
“Parents have a fundamental right to decide the educational, moral, ideological, and religious upbringing of their children without unreasonable government interference in the classroom undermining that right.”
In a website created to outline details of the bill, the lawmakers noted that the legislation would prohibit gender identity discussions for elementary students consistent with the timeline for existing academic standards on general sex education, which begins in sixth grade.
According to the website, the Pennsylvania bill would:
- Prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students;
- Require adherence to existing state standards of age-appropriate content for any discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation that occur in grades 6-12;
- Prohibit a school from withholding information from parents in accordance with existing state and federal laws;
- Increase transparency by requiring public schools to develop policies for notifying parents when there is a change to a student’s services or monitoring;
- Protect LGBTQ students by providing critical exemptions if it can be reasonably demonstrated that parental notification would result in abuse or abandonment of a minor.
“These conversations are important, and they are delicate,” said Senators Martin and Aument. “They should occur when a child is mature enough to fully understand the concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation, and they certainly should not occur behind the backs of parents.
“Our bill will improve transparency and ensure parents have the opportunity to participate in making decisions about their own child’s education.”