The Pennsylvania State Senate passed Bill 1278 on Wednesday. Otherwise known as the Empowering Families in Education Act, it will prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
According to the Pennsylvania Grand Assembly, Bill 1278 amends the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for student well-being. Senators Scott Martin and Ryan Aument released a memorandum on June 8, introducing Senate Bill 1278.
“Pennsylvania’s existing academic standards do not require sexual education curriculum in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Therefore, there is no academic justification for a teacher to initiate conversations or classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity with these young children. If these topics are important to a family, it should be up to the family to determine how and when their child is introduced to it,” the memorandum states.
“More importantly, parents have a fundamental right to decide the educational, moral, ideological, and religious upbringing of their children without unreasonable government interference in the classroom undermining that right. Considering that it’s unlikely all parents in a single school district would be able to reach a consensus on how and when to have these pivotal discussions with their young children, we must work to find solutions that empower parents to educate their own children on these sensitive topics at their own pace without having their hand forced by the public school system.”
According to the memorandum, Senate Bill 1278 will:
Prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students, consistent with the timeline for when the existing academic standards on general sex education begins in sixth grade.
Require adherence to existing state standards of age-appropriate content for any discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation that occur in grades 6-12.
Prohibit a school from withholding information from parents in accordance with existing state and federal laws.
Increase transparency by requiring public schools to develop a policy for notifying parents when there is a change to a student’s services or monitoring.
Protect students in the LGBTQ community by providing critical exemptions if it can be reasonably demonstrated that parental notification would result in abuse or abandonment of a minor.
This legislation does not bar students facing sexual orientation or gender identity issues from consulting school personnel or support services. Instead, it reaffirms parents’ right to be included in the discussion.
“A school should not withhold information from a parent that is vital to the physical and emotional well-being of that child.”
Read the full memorandum here: https://www.legis.state.pa.us//cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20210&cosponId=37440
Clarification on what Bill 1278 does and does not do is available here: https://www.senatorscottmartinpa.com/empowering-families-in-education/
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