Advocates Lodge Federal Complaint Against Parents’ Bill of Rights Law

The Campaign for Southern Equality has filed a federal Title IX complaint against the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education, alleging that the state’s adoption of the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” law has resulted in discriminatory policies and practices against LGBTQ students. The complaint asserts that LGBTQ students are being marginalized by the mandates outlined in Senate Bill 49, which include notifying parents if their child changes their name or pronouns at school and limiting instruction on gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms.

CSE contends that under the leadership of the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction, local school districts are implementing policies that bar LGBTQ-affirming content, expose transgender students, impede access to healthcare and support from educators, and prohibit transgender girls from participating in sports based on their gender identity. Furthermore, the complaint criticizes Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson for making what CSE deems as “homophobic and transphobic” comments and condemns State Superintendent Catherine Truitt for her support of SB 49 and House Bill 574, which restricts transgender females from participating in various levels of sports.

CSE has called on federal officials to take action in order to protect LGBTQ students, asserting that the implementation of SB 49 and HB 574 has created a hostile educational environment that violates Title IX and harms LGBTQ students on a daily basis. The complaint also highlights the challenges faced by educators who are caught between following state orders and their legal and professional obligations toward their students.

According to the complaint, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction had provided information about SB 49 to over 350 participants through a webinar. The complaint includes testimonials from students, parents, and educators, who share stories about how the mandates are negatively impacting LGBTQ students by forcing them back into the closet and preventing them from receiving necessary support services.

Democratic critics of the law argue that it will negatively impact student-teacher relationships and exacerbate student mental health concerns. On the other hand, Republican supporters of the law claim that it addresses parental concerns regarding school curriculum and was influenced by experiences during the pandemic when children were learning from home.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro School member Mike Sharp expressed the need for further revisions to SB 49 to remove parts that could harm children. However, the board declined to create a procedure for alerting parents before allowing a student to use a different name or pronoun at school and also rejected a proposal to prohibit instruction on gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms.

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt emphasized the need to comply with the law and warned that there may be consequences for not doing so, stating that the Parents’ Bill of Rights was enacted to protect children and empower parents.

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