HARRISBURG, Pa. — State lawmakers held a hearing on a contentious piece of legislation: the “Parental Bill of Rights,” a proposed bill that could give parents more direct say in the content taught or allowed in schools.
The measure is garnering special attention because its main sponsor is State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams), who is also the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor.
The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing Tuesday specifically on the bill. Its official text is brief for major legislation, stating:
The liberty of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, care and welfare of the parent's child is a fundamental right. Neither a Commonwealth agency nor a non-Commonwealth agency may infringe upon the right under subsection (a) without demonstrating that the law or ordinance is narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means.
But supporters of the measure said it was needed due to a host of culture war school-related issues, like critical race theory, allowing students to use the bathroom associated with their gender identity, and which books are inappropriate in schools.
Several other states, such as Florida and Arizona, have enacted similar measures to expand parents' rights in schools.
“Pronoun games have no place in schools. This has to end. Madness has come in. Parents have the least say. We’re looking at education and not indoctrination," Mastriano said.
Josh Shapiro’s campaign released a statement in response to the Parental Bill of Rights, saying,
Instead of wasting time and taxpayer dollars on these attempts to bully LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, our Republican-led legislature should be tackling the real challenges we face and working to ensure Pennsylvania children receive a world-class education.
Shapiro has said he wants to “give parents a voice” by appointing at least two parents to the State Board of Education.
FOX43 requested to ask follow-up questions to Mastriano, but his staffers at his Capitol office instead sent out Fenicia Redman, who filed a lawsuit in September to have schools in a Chester County school district remove books she deemed inappropriate.
When asked what legal powers she would like to see parents gain through the Parental Bill of Rights, Redman responded, “I’d like to legally be able to say to the school district that having books with pedophilia or sexually explicit material is out.”
Redman did not answer a question on whether she would support Shapiro’s proposal to appoint parents to the State Board of Education.
FOX43 reached out to the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Caucus to ask whether Republicans would support the bill should it come to the floor for a vote, but did not hear back.