Republican lawmakers have re-introduced a bill to require school systems to have policies in place that allow parents to be more active in their child’s education.
House Bill (HB) 8, known as the “Parents Bill of Rights,” sponsored by State Representatives D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), aims to require school systems to give parents notice of sexually explicit materials and create a health care plan for students with their parents.
The bill would require school districts to alert parents before using materials with explicit sexual content in class. The public school must expressly mention the teaching content and sexually explicit subjects in its notification to the parents. Additionally, parents could evaluate curriculum materials for sexually explicit content and request alternate education.
Any description of or any picture, photograph, drawing, motion picture film, digital image, or similar visual representation depicting sexual conduct is considered sexually explicit content under the bill.
“The intent of this legislation is to have parental oversight regarding classes that are sexually explicit in their subject matter. This legislation would give the parents the ability to read over the material and, if it is their decision, to remove their kids from that class and go to another. The school will also provide a list of other classes the student is able to take in the scenario of their parents pulling them from the class,” Swearingen said.
The legislation would also prohibit school staff from encouraging students to withhold information from their parents about their mental, emotional, or physical health. School systems would be obligated to inform parents of any changes to the mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being services given to their kids or the capacity of the public school to provide a secure learning environment. The notice must stress the parents’ autonomy over how to raise and manage their children and state that the school will not restrict their access to student academic and medical records.
The school systems would also be obliged to develop a parent-approved health care plan for each kid and tell parents of the health services provided by the public school at the beginning of each school year.
“Many parents across Ohio believe that schools should provide notification and transparency on certain materials prior to instruction and surely should keep parents duly notified when it comes to a student’s health records at their school. It’s my goal to have schools and parents work hand-in-hand for the student,” Carruthers said.
According to the proposed legislation, school districts must allow parents to submit written complaints to the school regarding the issues covered in the bill, inform parents of this ability, and create a procedure to answer the complaint within 30 days of receiving it.
Swearingen and Carruthers introduced the same bill in the 134th General Assembly as HB 722 the legislation stalled in the Ohio House.