Public Comments for: HB1126 - Parental rights; right to review & obtain educational materials, etc. (The Parents Bill of Rights).
This proposed bill poses will cause more harm than good. I also think that there are some holes in the reasoning used to make some of the proposed items in the bill. First, schools hold open house nights during which parents can receive a copy of the course materials to review. Parents have always had the opportunity to contact their child's teacher if they are concerned about a text or assignment. Second, highly qualified (Masters level) individuals are responsible for selections in school libraries are carefully selected to reflect the composition of identities in the student body. To limit the content in a library based on the mores of a majority will silence and erase the representation of a variety of minorities. The inclusion of all identities in libraries or student choice readings in classrooms allows students to feel seen and represented in their schools. This allows them to feel more comfortable engaging in the school community. No two parents or individuals will see a text as objectionable. Also, a parent also has the responsibility to have discussions with their children about what they are learning or a text they may have picked up from the library by choice. Along those lines...do you know what your children are seeing on TikTok, listening to on their headphones, or streaming online? On the issue of the items relating to biological sex, this bill has contradicting language and ideas. The last statement of the bill: "The bill finally requires each school board to implement policies and procedures to educate school board employees about bullying and the need to create a school environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect and any incident of bullying is taken seriously and handled in a robust manner." If the proposed items regarding biological sex are implemented, they would then lead to students being treated without dignity and respect because they do not fit the expectations of self-proclaimed moral authority.
To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 1034. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. I have worked in two different public school systems in Virginia over 13 years, and I have seen first hand how beneficial counseling services can be to a wide variety of students. If parents are allowed to prohibit their students from accessing counseling services in the school, these students may be cut off from not only critical mental health support, but but also the academic, career, and community support that school counselors and mental health team members provide. All members of a school mental health team must undergo rigorous education before obtaining their licenses, and as such they should be trusted as the professionals they are to provide only services that they deem necessary for students well-being. I strongly urge you to let the trained mental health professionals do their jobs. Don't make students get tied in the mire of adult squibbles. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen
To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB HB1032. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. As VA Senator Peterson said on January 27 of this year, regarding a similar bill, "I don't think we should be involved in micromanaging school libraries...The problem is that you’re going to sweep up books that you don’t intend to sweep up" (Matthew Barakat, abcnews.go.com). I strongly urge you to leave the books in the libraries for the kids. They deserve to have the opportunity to decide with their own parents and personal support systems what books to read. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen
HB1032: How will this process be kept free from politics or personal biases of the people put on boards to select what books to keep? I don't believe it's possible to do so. A gentle reminder that groups that ban books tend to not be remembered as "the good guys". This would be no different. HB1036: The suggestion of this bill should be enough to get the delegate ejected from our state government. The lack of critical thinking skills required to still not believe we should be mitigating the ongoing pandemic is stunning. HB1068: This is a thinly veiled attempt to stop the teaching of important moments in our nations history that paint one particular set of political beliefs in a bad light. This bill is written in bad faith and should not be passed. HB1126: This is a purposeful attempt to turn the public against the "academics" (teachers) similar to what has been seen in countries as fascism was on the rise. Parents did not go to college for childhood development or education, and being a parent does not inherently make you more qualified to decide what materials children should learn. If parents want that level of control, there are private schools that they can spend the money on to receive it. Otherwise, they should leave it to the professionals. HB113: I honestly can't believe this needs to be said. The separation of church and state originated in this state. This should not need to be explained to government officials. Putting anything on government property relating to any religion should not be considered.
It will be too much of a burden to teachers to create and share lessons this far ahead of time. Good teaching reacts to the needs of the students. General curriculum is covered in the SOLs and the course description and syllabus. Students and parents should not be able to opt out of large portions of the public school curriculum. If this curriculum does not agree with their beliefs; they should choose to homeschool or attend a private school - WITHOUT a voucher. Public schools teach necessary academic subjects, critical thinking, and life skills (setting goals, dealing with emotions, working with others) and good citizenship (participation in government, respect for others) We have to look as a nation where we have been (actual history with the lasting impacts of slavery and racism) and where we should go (respecting people when they identify themselves - transgender issues).
22.1-1.1 is wild. Providing parents easy access to so much information would be an enormous amount of overhead and limit the time teachers could actually give to their students. Additionally, if kids are often opted out of classes, it will have a negative impact on their learning. How do kids who've been opted out spend their class time? There's no justifiable reason to put this burden on kids and public schools when there are private schools and homeschooling. 22.1-23.3 C is flawed and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of trans experiences. I'd have a lot to say on this but I can only fit so much, so - demanding people of the same "biological sex" use the same bathrooms won't make trans people any less trans. A trans boy is still a boy, and will get yelled at for entering the girl's room even if it is the room mandated to him by this section. Effectively, this section robs trans, nonbinary, and intersex students of really anywhere to exist. Especially since 3 (iii) does not require neutral facilities to be provided, and even if it did, a single-user facility would not have the capacity to accommodate the queer student body. As a trans person who used to wake up in high school and think "Oh gosh, I hope I can get through the school day without ever using the bathroom", I can attest that 2.21-23.3, as written, is very meaningful, and dismantling it through this bill would harm students' education. 22.1-208.3 outright breaks history education. I graduated from FCPS fairly recently and still remember the subjects we covered. If teachers can't say an individual is "oppressive" how do they explain the American Colonists' perspective on King George III? If they can't say America is fundamentally racist how are they supposed to teach units like the civil rights movement and the jim crow era? How can civic teachers have students read the constitution and its amendments without acknowledging slavery and racism were explicitly written into it? The way this is written would stop teachers from teaching basic things students need to know for SOLs. Some of the best classes I took in public school were the ones where the teachers had the most control over the class - the electives that had no SOLs. These were fun because teachers could talk about interesting topics and engaging ways instead of having to meet a checklist of subjects. Like the SOLs, this bill would be another limit put on teachers, which would force them to worry about meeting every parent's standards over engaging students. This would degrade the quality of public education by making it bland and pallid.
I am a mother of three including a transgender student in a Harrisoburg City Public School. I am a registered nurse working in Augusta County. Evidence-based research, documented facts, and critical thinking should be the bedrock of public education. HB1126 encourages subjective emotional reaction to outweigh truth and critical thinking in presenting information to students. It takes the education of K-12 students out of the hands of educated professionals and subjects it to the whims of any parent who may be offended by a fact that they do not want to accept as fact. Students should leave public K-12 schools with the ability to discern fact from rhetoric, evidence from emotion, and engage in discourse with a cool head. The term "divisive" is subjective and has no place as a standard of acceptable curricula. Laws limiting conversations about ideas in the classroom are a frightening turn towards thought policing. Tip-lines tracking educators who encourage thoughtful discourse in their classrooms are reprehensible. Bathrooms are for the elimination of waste, hand washing, and sometimes, a glance in a mirror. If everyone in the bathroom is using it for its intended purpose, where is the offense? We no longer segregate bathrooms by race. Should we segregate bathrooms by cisgender versus transgender? Religious freedom does not include the policing of thoughts or gender-based discrimination. There is ample evidence-based research supporting trans health, biological sex, and gender identity. The rights of marginalized people should be measured by such evidence and not a religious-based or emotion-based reaction to a challenging concept.
Speaking to these bills HB 1032, HB 1126, HB 1347 and HB 786 -I would like to thank the Delegates LaRock and Avoli for your courage to stand up for parents who obviously in our Commonwealth have had trouble being heard. These bills address some issues at hand concerning our children’s educational/ instructional materials”. What goes into a mind comes out in a life.” Let’s make sure what we’re offering as education protects the hearts, minds and bodies of all of our children . Please support these bills and let’s get back on track to affirm teachers educating our children and affirm the rights of parents in the public school arena,too.
I write to voice my strong opposition to HB 1126. First off, I am fundamentally against policing of educational materials - let the teachers teach. The goal of education is not to limit what students are exposed to, but rather challenge students to think about things they might not otherwise be exposed to - to allow them to grow and think for themselves. By allowing parents to challenge this will restrict the ability of our children to learn to think for themselves. Teachers are not indoctrinating anyone - they are allowing kids to learn to think about things that may be uncomfortable, but will ultimately allow them to make better choices and decisions as adults. Restricting the access to bathroom and other facilities to "same biological sex" is abhorrent, discriminatory, and hurtful. I am the father of two elementary school aged children, both assigned female at birth. My older child - my daughter - identifies as female, and my younger child identifies as male - he is my son. While he always identified as male (since the age of 2), it was not until he was in first grade that he transitioned. His school has been extremely supportive of this transition, and has the guidance and tools needed for supporting him -- do not undo these lifelines for students, parents, teachers, and schools! Beside being against federal law, repeal of these policies goes against basic decency. My son uses the boys bathroom at school, he is able to go to the bathroom in peace, and has never encountered any problems since transitioning. Quite the contrary - when he was using the girls bathroom, older girls that did not know him would single him out, tell him he was in the wrong bathroom. He would resist going to the bathroom because of this. Banning transgender children from bathrooms and other facilities is discriminatory and is hurtful to a portion of our population that most desperately is in need of support. Please OPPOSE House Bill 988 to support all our children.
HB1126 will be a nightmare for teachers and make it more difficult for them to teach their students.
I am writing to express my dismay at this bill. It is unrealistic to expect teachers to provide copies of every lesson, video, reading, or resource used in July - two months before most teachers have even started their contract. Teachers constantly assess the students they have for that year and adjust accordingly. This would prevent them from using any current events article, a new video, or adjusting at all to meet the needs of their students. Parents have complete access to the state standards of learning, county standards, can sit on any textbook committee, review the course syllabus, and even access their child’s daily assignments in the schools LMS. This law seems to out an undue burden on teachers to solve a problem (parent access to school content) that does not exist.
There’s a lot in this that’s vague or unclear (e.g., as written, it appears a parent can opt their child out of any class because they objectl.”I don’t see algebra or foreign language or literature being useful in my life, and I object to it, so my kid should not have to take it”) , but the most egregious is requiring students to use a bathroom with their “biological gender.” First, the scotus already decided in June of 2021 that they would not take on the challenge to the Gavin Grimm lawsuit where HE WON THE RIGHT TO USE THE RESTROOM TO WHICH HE IDENTIFIES. So, we’re talking about a protected civil right, like handicapped ramps and elevators to accommodate wheelchairs. You’re trying to deny a proven protected right. Second, how will a school know a student’s biological gender”? Will there be an X-ray machine for genitals upon entering the bathroom? There’s no way to know if a transgender student coming from another school system (or entering school the first time) if their name has been legally changed. Third, you could be creating a situation where a transgender male, who totally appears male, would be entering the females’ bathroom. That would probably not be the outcome you desire. Finally, if you’re interested in all students being treated with respect, as your bill states, by singling out transgender students, you’re defying your own bill. What’s next, a gay student cannot use the restroom of their gender? Do you suppose the current transgender Jeopardy winner is made to use the men’s bathroom on set? Please, help prepare students for life by entering the 21st century, not trying to stay in mid-20th century.
I am writing to oppose HB988 and HB1126. Trans kids are among the most vulnerable in our society and in our schools. As a Christian clergyperson and as a citizen, I care about the well-being of every student. The state VDOE policies ensure consistency and ensure that the well being of our trans students does not rest in the hope that every local school board will have members who understand the needs and rights of trans students. Please do not pass HB988 or HB1126.
HB 988 would continue to negatively impact my child's experience in schools. He is in a school district that does not want to adopt full policies for inclusion of transgender children. My child is suffering because of his school's choice. Using the restrooms is a huge stressor for him, and he is regularly outed by a system that has not provided admins and teachers with proper training on how to work with transgender kids. Allowing school districts to decide if they will adopt the policies, would mean that my child's school district will continue to marginalize and harm him. HB 1126 is unreasonable and unconstitutional. It would be traumatizing, not only to transgender people, but also to the people you think you are protecting. Believe me, you DO NOT WANT people using the facilities of their biological gender. It's as if you've never met a transgender person before if you think this is a remotely good idea. Further, HB1126's vague and loose definition of "concerning content" is too broad and can be interpreted as a matter of opinion. I already know that my child's school considers LGBT content to be "concerning" and would get rid of it if they could, and they are already trying. And my child so despirately needs to know that he's a real valid person and there are others like him. And others in his school should also know that who his is is valid. It's okay for people to be different. School is precisely the place where students should be learning about new content.
This policy seems highly unrealistic — having all educational materials prepared before the school year starts, and before teachers even meet their students, makes it extraordinarily difficult for the teacher to create a curriculum tailored to their students strengths and needs. A system such as this will relegate teacher to implementing a cookie cutter curriculum that will have a negative impact on student learning. Further, the concept of a “Parent Bill of Rights” implies that parental authority trumps best practices, and that one parent’s discomfort dictates what other children can access in the classroom. This is just another deliberate attempt by hyper-conservative groups to weaken the institution of public education. I am deeply saddened to see this sort of legislation in the great state of Virginia, and just the consideration of such attacks in public education has me seeking employment in other states that value a strong public education. With the National teacher shortage worsening, this is an unfortunate move that is sure to drive good teachers out of Virginia.