Friday, September 30

Ohio House Republicans introduce “Parents’ Bill of Rights”: Mandates parental notification in cases of “health and well-being”

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On Thursday, Ohio House Republicans introduced the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” (HB 722) legislation that would force teachers and school staff to notify parents in a variety of situations concerning students “health and well-being.”

The bill is being co-sponsored by D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Sarah Carruthers (R-Hamilton).

Broadly, HB 722 requires “public schools to adopt a prescribed policy on parental notification on student health and well-being and instructional materials with sexually explicit content.”

Specifically, legislation would require schools to:

  • Notify parents about any change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being or the school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the student.
  • Prohibit school district personnel from directly or indirectly encouraging a student to withhold from a parent information concerning the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.
  • Notify the parents of students prior to instruction involving materials that include sexually explicit content and identify the specific instructional material and sexually explicit subjects.

The bill does not define “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being” and leaves the language open to the interpretation teachers and school staff will be forced out LGBTQ+ students to their parents.

The bill would permit school personnel form withholding information from parents they believe “that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”

But the bill also specifies that the belief “shall not be based on a parent’s religious or political beliefs,” a nod to parts of student’s identity like sexual orientation and gender identity, which other proposed legislation has deemed to be controversial.

“The focus is to ensure that parents are empowered to be involved in their child’s education both inside and outside the classroom,” Swearingen said in a statement. “In Ohio, we value parents taking an active role in their child’s life. When parents are involved, their children succeed. When children succeed, the future of Ohio becomes brighter.”

The Buckeye Flame reached out to Reps. Swearingen and Carruthers about the application of HB 722 and specifically if this bill would require teachers and school staff to out LGBTQ+ students.

The representatives responded with a statement that “children are more successful when parents are involved in their education,” but did not address the direct question.

We again reached out for clarification and this piece will be updated if a response is received.

HB 722 comes as the State Board of Education (BOE) of Ohio is considering a resolution that targets LGBTQ+ students and rejects Title IX language that would protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination.🔥

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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