A day after New Hampshire House Democrats unanimously voted against Parents Bill of Rights legislation at the state level, U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas voted against parental rights legislation in Washington, D.C.
The measure would expand the rights of parents to be informed about the materials their children are taught, the medical care and counseling they receive at school, and any violence on campus.
“In New Hampshire, we believe all parents have an important role to play in our education system – not just those who make the most noise,” said Kuster.
The measure passed 213-208, with five Republicans joining Democrats in opposition. Republican Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mike Lawler of New York, Matt Rosendale of Montana, and Ken Buck of Colorado voted against the legislation.
Kuster and Pappas declined to respond to requests for comment.
“Sadly, Democrats have solidified their position as the anti-parent party, owned by special interest money,” said NHGOP chair Chris Ager. “Republicans are fighting for parents and children.”
Democrats claimed the legislation is “anti-gay” and “anti-trans” because it forbids federally funded schools from hiding a student’s transgender identity from his or her parents. Currently, some public school systems instruct teachers and administrations to keep children’s behavior secret from parents, even if that means lying to moms and dads.
The law also directs schools to make all reading materials within a school’s library available to parents upon request. The bill’s passage is almost certainly doomed to fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate. It would be highly unlikely to clear President Joe Biden’s veto as well.
The text of the bill also stipulates parents shall retain “the right to review, and make copies of, at no cost, the curriculum of their child’s school,” as well as the right to know if a school employee moves to “treat, advise, or address a student’s mental health, suicidal ideation, or instances of self-harm.”
Federally funded schools would also be required to obtain parental consent before “allowing a child to change the child’s sex-based accommodations, including locker rooms or bathrooms.”
Pappas said informing parents about their children’s behavior would make those students unsafe.
“Every student deserves a safe, inclusive learning environment at school, and every parent must feel confident in their child’s education,” Pappas said in a statement. “As a proud product of Manchester public schools, I trust parents, students, and educators to shape policy and make decisions at the local level that are best for a community. This bill represents federal government overreach and also would jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ youth.”
Manchester public schools are currently being sued by the mother of a student over its policy of refusing to inform parents about the children’s behavior at school regarding sex and gender. A Hillsborough County judge ruled parents have no right to know what teachers and administrators know about kids who ask to be identified by a different name or sex while at school.
Judge Amy Messer ruled the Manchester School District’s policy directing teachers and staff not to fully and accurately inform parents about their child’s expressed gender identity is fine. Messer found parents ultimately do not have the right to direct how their children are to be educated in public schools.
“(T)he right to make decisions about the care, custody, and control of one’s child is not absolute,” Messer wrote.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also opposed the bill.
“When we talk about progressive values, I can say what my progressive value is: Freedom over fascism,” she said.
Kuster, a progressive member of Congress who has voted for expansions of federal power over state elections, abortion regulations, and tax policy, said she opposed the Parents Bill of Rights because of concerns about big government.
“I will keep pushing for meaningful parent involvement to strengthen our public schools and fighting for less government interference in our personal lives,” Kuster said Friday.