The U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Parents Bill of Rights” along a mostly party line vote in what promises to be one of the themes of the 2024 election.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, introduced the legislation as a part of his “Commitment to America” campaign platform.
“In our commitment to America, we said we were going to have a parents bill of rights,” McCarthy said during a news conference after the vote, according to USA Today. “This is exactly what we just passed on the floor today, we’re keeping our commitment. It’s just another check off on all that we said we would do.”
The final vote was 213-208, reported Fox News, with Republican Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mike Lawler of New York and Matt Rosendale of Montana joining Democrats in opposing the bill.
“We have seen public schools promote extremely divisive content like critical race theory, radical gender ideology, and even drag shows to impressionable young children,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado, in a statement.
“Parents have a right to know what’s happening at their child’s school,” she added, summing up the Republican case for the bill.
However, Democrats have mischaracterized the bill as an attempt to ban books and to “out” LGBT students, likening parental rights to fascism.
“This Republican bill is asking the government to force the outing of LGBT people before they are ready,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, on the House floor.
But the chair of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce disputed the notion.
“The bill does not address a student’s identity or statements, but is solely focused on notifying parents about actions taken by school personnel to act on a gender transition, such as changing pronouns or switching locker rooms,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, who took over as chair when the new Congress was sworn in.
The GOP also pushed back on the idea that the bill was an attempt at censorship.
“It is not an attempt to have Congress dictate their curriculum or determine the books in the library,” said Rep. Julia Letlow, R-Louisiana, according to the Hill.
“Instead, this bill aims to bring more transparency and accountability to education, allowing parents to be informed and when they have questions and concerns to lawfully bring them to their local school boards,” Letlow concluded.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, dubbed the bill the “Politics over Parents Act,” foreshadowing the Democratic argument against the GOP for the 2024 election.
Despite success in the House, the bill likely won’t be voted on by the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats.