Take Action Against Harmful Education Bills

After sixteen hours of deliberation and attempts to amend the harmful pieces of legislation, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed H.R. 5, the Parental Bill of Rights Act, and H.R. 734, the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023. Despite the grossly inaccurate language utilized in their titles, the bills—passed along party lines—do nothing to empower or protect. Instead, they disenfranchise and exclude students and parents.

The measures are now, unfortunately, one step closer to consideration by the full House, with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise signaling that the Parental Bill of Rights Act could receive a floor vote as early as March 20th. Act now: urge your representative to vote NO on H.R. 5 and H.R. 734 to ensure children are not excluded from comprehensive education or banned from participating in school sports.

H.R. 5 would require public schools to allow parents to review and consent to certain materials and activities, and determine certain funding based on this requirement. Instead of encouraging positive school climates that nurture students’ ability to grow, the bill stands as unnecessary, divisive, burdensome, and insulting to trained educators who already work hard to collaborate with parents. If passed, the measure would pave the way for further censorship including book and curriculum bans, impose redundant mandates, and inflict financial burdens on already underfunded schools.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects against sex-based discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. H.R. 734 would make it a violation under Title IX for recipients of federal financial assistance who maintain athletic programs or activities to allow transgender girls and women to participate in such programs in accordance with their gender. Banning transgender girls from sports deprives them of social and physical health benefits and hinders important development of collaboration and teambuilding skills.

The subject matters of these two measures should not be unfamiliar, as they have been a part of a concerted and well-coordinated campaign by the right-wing and Christian Nationalists to set schools back. “Parental rights” bills have been enacted and introduced across state legislatures. One glaring example of this is Florida’s 2022 Parental Rights in Education legislation, which the U.S. Department of Education condemned. Moreover, within just the last two years, eighteen states have passed laws banning transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity; and now, advocates are working hard to defeat an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills making their way through 2023 state legislatures.

The American Humanist Association supports equity in education, and is committed to ensuring transgender people can live free from the violence and misogyny deeply ingrained in American society. The misnamed Parental Bill of Rights Act and the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 do not have the best interest of students, parents, and educators in mind. Instead, the bills serve to further the divisive policies already poisoning their way through state legislatures. Please take just two minutes now to reach out to your representative to urge them to vote no on these unnecessary and exclusionary measures.