A bill being considered in the Missouri Legislature would require public school districts to inform parents if sexually oriented material is being taught.
The Missouri House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee is debating a bill from Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, that would let parents have their kids removed from class if they do not approve. He said the bill is in response to a Columbia middle school Gay/Straight Alliance Club distributing propaganda without parents knowing.
“I think the parents have a right to know what is in front of their children in public schools,” Basye said. “That’s the intent of the bill; nothing more, nothing less.”
Under the legislation, Missouri schools could be sued for violating the terms. Basye, the chairman of the committee, said concerns of parents tend to fall on deaf ears.
“A lot of people, a lot of parents feel that they’re not listened to, by whether it’s the school board, the administration or what have you,” he said. “That’s why the design of the last part of this bill is to give this a little bit of teeth so parents can take action if they feel that they’re not being listened to or their child is subjected to something they don’t agree with.”
Each year parents organize nation-wide protests
Representative Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson, alleges the measure treads on dangerous ground. She has served as a schoolteacher and counselor in public and charter schools in Missouri and elsewhere
“I would argue there’s no better place for information or a learning place than a school setting,” she said. “I don’t see any like nude pictures or questionable words as far of obscenities on here. So I’m not really clear what the issue was with this. If I put ‘Jesus Saves’ up, though, I could certainly see how my Jewish student would have an issue with that.
“I don’t take offense to your wanting to be involved in your child or your children’s education and the education of your community. But I do insist that we’re not just talking about sex and sexuality but the actual worthiness and personhood of a group of individuals.”
Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O’Fallon, highlighted the need for the legislation with a story about one of her own children. She became aware her son had been taught at a public school how to use a condom only by asking at dinnertime what he had learned at school that day. “Parents are not the problem, they are the solution,” Davis said, and “the best way to encourage parental involvement is to keep them in the loop with what’s happening with their kids.”
Another part of the bill takes tackles abortion provider Planned Parenthood affiliates by prohibiting anyone or any organization that provides abortions from teaching sex education classes in public schools, or providing them with course materials. It makes an exception for hospitals.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice