Tania Jiménez, 39, of Asheboro, center, participates in a march through downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Saturday, June 25, 2022, to protest House Bill 755, the “Bill of Rights parents,” and raise awareness of the conditions trans immigrants face in detention.

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The fate of legislation that would restrict LGBTQ education in North Carolina elementary schools depends on the decisions voters make in this fall’s election for state lawmakers.

The State House adjourned this month without taking action on the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” legislation that calls for new rules on discussing LGBTQ topics in public schools. Republican lawmakers lacked the votes to override a veto pledged by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, so they hope to secure a supermajority on Election Day in November.

“If Republicans have the votes to override a veto, that will be one of their top priorities,” Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values ​​Coalition, said in an interview. “I encourage parents to vote for people who believe they have the right to determine their children’s education and not for activists in schools.”

Allison Scott, director of impact and innovation for the Southern Equality Campaign, said she was concerned about the impact the election could have on LGBTQ rights.

“I’m a trans woman living in North Carolina, living down south,” Scott said in an interview. “I lived through previous iterations of bad bills. The real purpose of all this is to ensure that people like me are not full players in society. It’s terrifying.

Tania Jiménez, 39, of Asheboro, center, participates in a march through downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Saturday, June 25, 2022, to protest House Bill 755, the “Bill of Rights parents,” and raise awareness of the conditions trans immigrants face in detention. Ethan Hyman [email protected]

Limits of LGBTQ discussion

House Bill 755 has been controversial since it was unveiled by Senate GOP leaders in May. Provisions include:

Prohibit teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity as part of the curriculum in grades K-3.

Require schools to notify parents if their children are identified by different pronouns in school records or by school employees. Critics said it could lead to LGBTQ students leaving, while supporters say parents need to know this information.

Other parts of the bill include ensuring that parents have the right to access textbooks and other educational materials used in their child’s school.

Sections regulating pronouns, gender identity and sexual orientation have drawn the most attention, including protests from LGBTQ rights supporters. Similar legislation has been filed in other states.

Alison Croop of Raleigh stands outside the North Carolina Senate Rules Committee room after the committee voted on HB755, the ‘Bill of Parents’ Rights,’ at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, Carolina North, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Ethan Hyman [email protected]

“When bills like this are introduced, it provokes a gut reaction because it makes people think it’s protecting children,” Scott said. “It’s not truthful and it’s not going to do that at all. The truth is that LGBTQ people, especially transgender and non-binary students, are disproportionately affected by bullying and harassment in schools.

But Fitzgerald points out a WRAL poll that found that 58% of respondents would support a ban on teaching gender identity and sexual orientation in K-3 grades.

“The vast majority of parents in North Carolina do not believe in teaching kindergarten or early-grade children about sexual orientation and gender identity,” Fitzgerald said. “That subject should be left to the parents.”

Scott, however, attributes the poll results to people who think elementary schools want to teach about sex acts rather than telling students that families can be made up of two dads or two moms and not just a mom and a dad. a father.

Lack of Democratic support for the bill

The Senate passed the bill with all Republicans — but only one Democrat — in support. That wouldn’t be enough to override a veto.

House Speaker Tim Moore said the House would only pass the bill this year if the GOP had enough Democratic votes to override Cooper.

State lawmakers plan to return once a month for the rest of the year. But Terry Stoops, director of the John Locke Foundation’s Center for Effective Education, said GOP lawmakers have told the organization they don’t plan to bring HB 755 back until next year.

Stoops said the foundation was told there was too much disagreement between the House and Senate to pass the bill now. Stoops said some GOP lawmakers thought the bill went too far while others wanted to go further and ban teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity through sixth grade.

House GOP lawmakers have talked about dropping the K-3 ban to gain support from Democrats, according to Stoops, but he said he’s unsure whether Senate Republicans would support the change. Finally, the decision was taken to focus on the adoption of the budget.

Fight against sex education next year?

Waiting until next year will give GOP lawmakers a chance to see how the State Board of Education handles new health standards being developed, according to Stoops.

State Department of Public Instruction staff said at last week’s board meeting that it was too early to say whether gender identity would be included in the new standards.

“We’re not giving up, and I don’t think they’ve given up either,” Stoops said in an interview. “We would have liked to see Bill reach the finish line this session, but we understand the reasons why he didn’t.”

The decision to seemingly let the bill die this year was good news for naysayers.

“We would like to believe that lawmakers considered the trauma that HB 755 could have inflicted on LGBTQ students of color and decided that moving forward would compromise their constitutional duty to educate ALL students in North Carolina,” Jerry Wilson , director of policy and advocacy for the Center for Racial Equity in Education (CREED), said in an email.

GOP wants supermajority

The legislation is likely to be an issue in campaigns across North Carolina. The election will come at a time when conservative groups in North Carolina and across the country have complained about what they see as sexually explicit LGBTQ books in school libraries.

About 50 people attended a demonstration outside the Wake County School Board meeting in Cary on April 5, 2022 to protest what they say is the distribution of obscene books in school libraries. T. Keung Hui [email protected]

“I hope parents hold the governor and his Democratic party accountable when they go to the polls in November for not having a parents’ bill of rights in place,” said Fitzgerald of the NC Values ​​Coalition.

In order to override Cooper’s vetoes, Republicans would need to win three additional House seats and two Senate seats in this fall’s election.

Moore said Republicans were “very optimistic” about their chances of securing a supermajority, and said the bill was “certainly the kind of issue we can address in next year’s session.” , The News & Observer previously reported.

“As a trans woman, I’m always concerned about this,” said Scott of the Southern Equality Campaign. “As a mother with a child in school. I don’t feel comfortable with an elected body having complete control over my condition.

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T. Keung Hui has been covering K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. Its primary focus is Wake County, but it also covers statewide education issues.