Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick voted with 212 of his Republican colleagues to pass a bill that critics say will lead to more classroom censorship, book bans, and further inflame the latest conservative culture war that is battering public schools.
“This bill does not give parents any more rights than they already have,” Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Mary Gay Scanlon told the New York Times. What it actually attempts to do is push “one size fits all approach across the country, assuming the size that fits is a right wing straight jacket.”
The Parents’ Bill of Rights Act re-asserts what largely already exists, parents’ rights to access curricula and school library books, meet with their kids’ teachers, review district budgets and spending, be notified of violent events in their child’s school – with an added mandate about parental consent for a student’s request to change their name or pronouns. But what this bill really does is embolden far-right parents engaged in war on diversity, inclusiveness, empathy, history, teachers and librarians in an attempt to transform public schools into conservative Christian and patriotic indoctrination centers.
“H.R. 5 seeks to create detrimental harm to our most marginalized children, erase the complicated and difficult history of our nation, and damage parent and teacher relationships,” noted The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in a statement signed by 229 organizations from across the country.
Locally, Central Bucks School District’s right-wing majority school board hired the Independence Law Center, the legal arm of the Christian nationalist Pennsylvania Family Institute, to help write its library book challenge procedures. More than 60 books are currently being considered for removal. The district also banned Pride flags and is being investigated by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for allegedly creating a “toxic educational environment” for LGBTQ students.