On Tuesday, January 30, the LGBTQ organization Campaign for Southern Equality filed a federal complaint challenging North Carolina’s recently enacted Parents’ Bill of Rights and Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. Both of these bills were passed last year and have gone into effect. The complaint claims that North Carolina’s public schools systematically marginalize students who identify as LGBTQ, allegedly violating Title IX. They state that “local school districts are barring LGBTQ-affirming content, outing transgender students, erecting barriers to LGBTQ students receiving needed health care at school as well as support from educators, and prohibiting transgender girls from playing athletics consistent with their gender identity.”
Addressing the Parents’ Bill of Rights, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said, “SB49 provides transparency for parents—plain and simple. Parents, not the state, are ultimately responsible for raising their children. The Parents Bill of Rights ensures that parents remain aware of major health-related matters impacting their child’s growth and development.”
Contrary to accusations, The Parents’ Bill of Rights does not target LGBTQ-identifying students or children from LGBTQ-identifying families. To the contrary, it encourages a healthy relationship between children and their parents. This is key, as studies have found that strong parent-child relationships have been associated with a number of positive outcomes, including improved mental health, school engagement, and social competence. While some have tried to argue that teachers and parents have an equal interest in the child’s wellbeing, this simply isn’t true. Teachers may care deeply about their students, and many do, but they will only be in their students’ lives for a short period of time. Parents, however, will be with their children for the duration of their lives. In addition, parents have a long-term legal, financial, and moral responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their child that teachers simply don’t have.
While it is true that not every parent has their child’s best interest at heart, the vast majority of parents do, and they want to be involved in the lives of their children and help them thrive. It is important that the fundamental rights of parents to care for and direct the upbringing of their children are acknowledged and protected, and SB 49 will help to do just that.
Regarding the ban on LGBTQ-affirming content, the bill states that there should be no instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality in the curriculum provided for grades kindergarten through fourth grade. It does not include responses to student-initiated questions, and it does not prohibit children from discussing LGBTQ families. It simply says that there should not be any instruction on these topics, whether it pertains to LGBTQ or heterosexual relationships. Children should be allowed to have a childhood and not be forced to think about such adult matters.
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act does prevent biological males who identify as females from playing on female sports teams. However, males who identify as females are still welcome to play on male or co-ed teams. The first reason for this is the safety of female athletes. There are undeniable biological differences between males and females beginning at a young age, and hormone therapies and other forms of gender-affirming procedures do not change this. In addition to the safety concerns, there is the matter of fairness. Participating in sports opens a world of opportunity to many young women in the form of scholarships, careers, and leadership skills; but now some of these opportunities are being lost to transgender-identifying biological males. Every award, title, and scholarship won by a biological male playing on a female sports team is one denied to a female athlete. The reason that sports are divided into male and female is to accommodate gender differences while still letting the top performers shine.