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Column: CHCCS righteously upholds LGBTQ rights despite calls to implement Senate Bill 49

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The North Carolina General Assembly is located in Downtown Raleigh and houses the state Senate and House of Representatives.

This past August, Senate Bill 49, known as the Parents' Bill of Rights, passed the NC Senate 29-18 after having been previously vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper in July

The bill outlines parents' abilities to access education records, make health care decisions and to enroll their child in public or nonpublic schools. Intertwined in the outline of rights is a singling out of LGBTQ+ students in which parents must be alerted if their child chooses to go by a different name or set of pronouns. The bill also bans the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in K-4 classrooms.

The Parents' Bill of Rights is targeting LGBTQ+ students and is being disguised as bettering the education system for parents.

On Thursday, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools became the latest district to adopt policies from the Parents’ Bill of Rights, but declined to adopt the sections that target LGBTQ+ students on the basis that those policies go against the district's values of inclusiveness. CHCCS adopted all other parts of the bill, allowing parents full insight into the curriculum their children are being taught while exposing the hypocrisy and harmful nature of the bill. 

The Parents’ Bill of Rights is often branded manipulatively, making it seem like many of these rights to public school curricula were not already available, when in actuality they would be discussed on any given parent curriculum night and additional information is widely available on the district's website.

The conservative social media account "Libs of Tiktok" claimed in an X post that opponents to the bill were against parents having a say in their children's education, when in reality they have long held that right. Children should be able to be themselves and if for some reason it is unsafe to do so at home, S.B. 49 is putting children directly in harm's way. Further, the repetitive nature of the bill and the language used, if applied literally, would severely inhibit student learning.

The prohibition of discussing gender identity in classrooms means that there can’t be any discussion of any gender spectrum, regardless of if it is a binary or not. Republican lawmakers fail to realize that discussion on these issues just make for more respectful and kind individuals.

Since Thursday, Republicans have been criticizing the school district for making these changes to the law under the grounds that it is not in their jurisdiction to do so. Catherine Truitt, the N.C. superintendent of public instruction, quickly condemned CHCCS on X, writing, “No. Sorry... I worked with the legislature to pass the Parents Bill of Rights to protect children and empower parents and it’s unacceptable for Chapel Hill or anyone else to ignore it.” 

Sen. Jim Perry (R-Beaufort, Craven, Lenoir) has also taken to X to comment on the issue, making it clear that CHCCS will not go unnoticed with this act of civil disobedience. 

Though CHCCS might be made to enforce the entirety of the policy as it is state law, what the district has done is huge for protecting the relationship between educators and children. Students' ability to feel comfortable, safe and welcome at school should be our state's utmost educational priority. Ulterior motives were clearly present in the making of this bill at the expense of student safety and well-being.

There are real needs in North Carolina schools that aren’t being met, like the ongoing teacher retention struggle, but instead of targeting key issues like this, lawmakers decided to craft a bill shrouded in rhetoric that does more harm than good. The state should not waste time deciding on the means for CHCCS to comply, but should consider what children actually need and will continue to go without if these kinds of harmful policies are what is at the forefront of legislators' minds.

@katelinlee

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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