The House advanced sweeping, if aspirational, legislation codifying a parent’s “bill of rights” on Friday. The Senate is less bullish, however.
The House version (CS/HB 1059), sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, lingered on the Second Reading calendar before advancing to a vote Friday.
During the amendment process, Grall added a technical amendment that reaffirmed parental rights to any type of school (public, private, and even homeschooling).
Another Grall amendment vouchsafed parental rights to spike objectionable instructional material “based on beliefs regarding morality, sex, and religion or the belief that such materials are harmful.”
Theoretically, the Senate could receive the House bill and vote on it. The Kelli Stargel version stalled out in committee, however.
The bill’s gist: that state or other governments would not be allowed to limit a parent’s right to direct the moral and religious upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of his or her child.
The bill permits opt-outs for students on issues ranging from sex education to vaccination. As well, explicit consent for medical care and data collection for students in a school setting is included in the bill.
The bill gives parents rights to information even when their children are in school, positing that “important information relating to a minor child should not be withheld, either inadvertently or purposefully, from his or her parent, including information relating to the minor child’s health, well-being, and education, while the minor child is in the custody of the school district.”
Barring a “narrowly defined … state interest,” the legislation asserts parental prerogatives regarding how to educate the child (including home schooling), how to guide the child’s religious grounding, the right to see all school or governmental records of the child, and a consent requirement ahead of taking the child’s blood or DNA.
The bill could limit sexual education in schools in cases where a parent objects to the subject matter. It could also make it easier for parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children. Supporters say it’s necessary to ensure parents retain the right to raise their children independent of government interference while also maintaining reasonable child welfare protections. But critics worry it could strip kids of inclusive education.
The legislation blocks students from receiving medical care unless schools have their parents’ consent or in the event of a medical emergency.
The bill could give parents additional authority to object to classroom materials and opt their children out of learning some health education information like sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS.
Florida Politics’ Sarah Mueller contributed to this post.