RALEIGH, North Carolina — Advocates for LGBTQ youth spoke out on Tuesday against students leaving against their will.
A provision of House Bill 755, “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” sponsored by Senate Republicans, would require schools to notify parents if their student has changed their pronoun.
The bill also prohibits teaching or curriculum on LGBTQ issues in kindergarten through third grade and creates a list of requirements for parent and school communication.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to veto the bill if it makes it to his office. It is expected to go to a floor vote in the Senate on Wednesday after being passed by the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday.
Before Tuesday’s meeting began, about two dozen protesters gathered inside the legislative building. Led by Reverend Vance Haywood Jr., the senior pastor of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in downtown Raleigh, many wore shirts and held signs with pro-LGBTQ messages.
Haywood said he himself has been forced to come out of the closet and strongly opposes any legislation that would require school employees across the state to do the same with their LGBTQ students. On average, he said, every 45 seconds a young queer person in the United States will attempt suicide — which laws like the one proposed here would only make worse, he said.
“Bills like this continue to exacerbate those numbers and create unsafe environments in schools and homes,” Haywood said.
“This bill proposes a forced exit of homosexual children. … I can imagine what it would be like, because I was forced out of the closet. This puts people’s lives in danger. And of the very body that should protect people.
The News & Observer reported that over the past decade, the rate of child deaths by homicide or suicide in North Carolina has doubled. A 2019 study found that nearly half of LGBTQ high school students had considered suicide in the past year, the N&O reported, and more than one in five had attempted suicide.
In 2020, the N&O reported that suicide was the fourth leading cause of death among children, and the state reported 2,700 additional ER visits by children due to self-inflicted injuries.
Several speakers cited parental notification as impacting the well-being of children if they live in non-LGBTQ households.
In the text of the bill, under a list of mental and physical health items requiring parental notification, the bill states “any change in the name or pronoun used for a student in school records or by staff school”.
After listening to speakers, including a former K-3 teacher who supported the bill, Republican Senator Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine spoke about the process for his son, a public school student, to bring over-the-counter antacids. at school. Several forms and signatures are involved.
Hise shared it as an example of why parents should be involved in all things related to their children’s mental and physical health.
Greensboro’s Tyler Beall told lawmakers the proposal is a “don’t say gay” bill because it requires parents to be informed and targets LGBTQ students.
Republicans disagree with its characterization as a “don’t say gay” bill, arguing that they see it as less restrictive on teachers than some other Republican-run states have proposed. Some said that informal discussions in class would be allowed as long as they are not part of the curriculum.
At a previous committee meeting, State Senator Deanna Ballard, a Watauga County Republican, said the bill “did not restrict or prohibit any conversation” in classrooms. “If a teacher has a same-sex partner, we don’t stifle discussion,” she said.
Beall also called the bill “a school version of don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The phrase “don’t ask, don’t tell” refers to the old Department of Defense policy regarding LGBTQ service members, which was repealed in 2011.
Beall said the bill would create a “culture of fear” for students who might be too scared to ask school staff for help.
Tania Jimenez, a transgender woman, said students should be able to be proud of themselves.
“I think it’s time for North Carolina to move forward, not backward,” she said.
State Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Democrat from Raleigh, said at an earlier committee meeting that the bill could be interpreted as “sending a signal outside of North Carolina that our state is not a welcoming place,” comparing it to the largely repealed HB2 toilet bill. .”
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