HARRISBURG (TNS) — Proposed legislation that two Lancaster County Republican state senators plan to soon introduce dealing with discussions and materials about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools is not welcomed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Wolf vows to veto the measure if it reaches his desk.
“The governor has made it clear time and time again that Pennsylvania is welcoming to all, and hate has no place here, and he would veto any legislation that discriminates against LGBTQIA+ Pennsylvanians,” said Wolf spokeswoman Beth Rementer. “It’s a disgrace that Republicans are pushing through LGBTQIA+ discrimination legislation during Pride Month.”
She went on: “Instead of censoring our students’ education and demonizing anyone who is not cisgender, Republicans in the General Assembly should be using this time to pass a budget that appropriately funds basic education in the commonwealth so that students and teachers alike have all the tools and resources they need for a quality public education. That’s what the governor is focused on as he continues to advocate for necessary and deserved increases in basic education spending in the budget, and he encourages the legislature to do the same with three weeks until the state budget deadline.”
The proposed legislation by Sens. Scott Martin and Ryan Aument resembles a Florida statute that drew national attention as the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill but was touted by supporters as a parental freedom act. Their proposal seeks to empower parents to educate their child on sexual orientation and gender identity topics when they feel it is appropriate rather than having their hand forced by a public school system.
Specifically, the proposal would bar classroom instruction on these topics in grades pre-K through five in keeping with the state’s standards that stipulate there be no type of sexual discussion until grade six. The senators said it would not prohibit student-initiated discussions on these issues.
It further requires public schools to adopt a policy for notifying parents when there is a change to a student’s services or monitoring and prohibit a school from withholding information from parents in accordance with existing state and federal laws. It would, however, provide exemptions to the parental notification requirement if there is a concern it may result in abuse or abandonment of a minor.
A separate piece of legislation Aument intends to offer addresses sexually explicit materials in schools used for instruction or in school libraries.
In defending the legislation he and Aument will be offering, Martin said, “Kids don’t belong to the school. They are children of parents. If there is no overarching issue related to that child’s safety with those parents, the parents have a right to know what’s going on with their child from a medical perspective, a counseling perspective, and a behavioral perspective. It’s a parents right and we need to respect that.”