By Alice Giordano
Legislation protecting a parent’s right to block the use of gender pronouns and other gender ideology in public schools is either pending or has already passed in all but three U.S. states.
Of the states where legislation is being heavily watched is the state of New Hampshire, where more than 200 people turned out this past week in support of proposed parental rights legislation.
NH Republican Dan Innis, who is gay, told The Epoch Times that he believes rising support for parental rights bills are because the transgender movement targeting children and the move to cut their parents out of the process “goes just too far,” even for many liberals.
“These bills are being labeled as anti-trans, but nothing could be further from the truth. What they are is pro-family, pro-child,” Innis said. “Their purpose is to put these major life decisions, major life changes, where they belong, and that’s in the family between the parents and the children.”
Teachers unions and some LGBTQ organizations, however, have warned that the parental rights bills are creating “dangerous situations” for kids by depriving those suffering from gender dysphoria of a trusted adult at school to confide in and not challenge them.
“We need our students to feel safe at school and to have their school be a place they feel welcome,” said Deb Howes, president of the American Federation of Teachers, New Hampshire (AFT-NH), in a written testimony against Senate Bill SB 272.
“For the sake of their well-being, and perhaps their very survival, we also need for students to know that they can turn to their teachers or school staff to be a trusted adult—especially if they don’t have one in their home.”
Howes did not respond to inquiries from The Epoch Times for further comment.
According to a recent interactive map compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union, the NH bill is among more than 460 of what the organization calls “anti-LGBTQ” legislation currently pending in the United States.
Of them, 220 of them are specific to public schools—spread over 47 states—including the radically liberal California.
A review of them that shows the vast majority are parental rights bills seeking to enshrine a parent’s right to access all school curriculum, including any kind of sex education or gender-related topics or activities, and the right to either inquire or be notified about any clubs their children enrol in along with any use of gender pronouns or a different name other than the name the child was given by their parents.
The only three states with no pending parental rights or gender-based legislation are New York, Wyoming, and Nevada, where a proposed parental rights bill seeking notification requirements regarding gender ideology was recently defeated.
Republican lawmakers introduced several bills in ultra conservative Wyoming, but Speaker of the House Albert Sommers, to the shock of fellow Republicans, blocked the bills from being introduced. Sommers, whose move made national headlines, was accused by fellow GOPers of selling out to teachers unions. Sommers said he blocked the bills because they infringe on the authority of local school boards.
Illinois was listed on the ACLU map as a fourth state without pending school-based gender ideology legislation. However, Republican lawmakers have since introduced a bill aimed at what co-sponsor Rep. Mary Miller called “dangerous transgender policies” in schools.
While there is no pending parental rights legislation in Colorado, Vermont, and Connecticut, those states made the ACLU’s map because of pending bills that call for a ban on male students participating in female sports in the schools.
Outside of Connecticut and Vermont, all four other New England states—which combined, comprise one of the most liberal corners of America—do have pending parental rights legislation aimed at gender identity issues in schools, including in Massachusetts—one of the bluest states in the country.
The United States is also seeing for the first time a federal parental rights bill take hold, with the House GOP advancing one last month in an unprecedented move.
Chris Ager, chairman of the NH Republican Party, which has promoted the NH bill, told The Epoch Times that he believes schools are losing the battle because they are undermining the most sacredly-held roles on earth: “mom and dad.”
“If a minor can’t get a pierced ear without a parent’s approval, how can the schools think they should have the right to promote potentially mutilating kids for life without a parent’s approval,” he said.
Even parents in New York’s liberal Westchester County recently complained publicly that their school kept them in the dark about activities involving re-assigning their children’s gender identity.
The debate has created odd bed fellows, like Gays Against Groomers who has campaigned alongside Christian groups like Child Parents Right in support of parental rights legislation.
Innis, who said he doesn’t believe children are being rejected by their parents as commonly as some transgender activists have suggested, sees the argument by schools that they are protecting children from unaccepting parents as an “unintentionally dangerous” position.
“I don’t believe that teachers want to be destructive to children, but I think they’re misunderstanding the vulnerability and the confusion that young people have and are unintentionally leading them down a bad path,” he said.