Pennsylvania's legislature could soon consider a bill similar to the controversial "Parental Rights in Education Law" passed in Florida earlier this year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Republican state Sens. Scott Martin and Ryan Aument on Wednesday announced plans to introduce the "Empowering Families in Education Act," which they say would empower parents to educate their child on the topics of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools across the state.
If passed, the bill would prohibit classroom teachings on gender identity and sexual orientation for Pre-K through fifth-grade students. It would also prohibit schools from withholding any information from parents in accordance with existing state laws.
Additionally, schools would need to adhere to existing state standards of age-appropriate content for any discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation that occur in grades 6-12.
"Some of these discussions that concerned parents have brought to our attention are formal and led by the teacher, while others are organic and initiated by students," said both senators in a statement. "But many of these discussions are occurring without the knowledge or consent of the parents, and we believe this is wrong. Parents have a fundamental right to decide the educational, moral, ideological, and religious upbringing of their children without unreasonable government interference in the classroom undermining that right."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf criticized the proposal.
"It's a disgrace that Republicans are pushing through LGBTQIA+ discrimination legislation during Pride Month," said Elizabeth Rementer, state press secretary, according to the Post-Gazette. "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."
The Pennsylvania State Education Association, the commonwealth's largest teachers group, also slammed the proposal.
"PSEA has serious concerns about any effort aimed at censoring educators or preventing them from valuing, affirming and supporting students and their families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," PSEA spokesman Chris Lilienthal said. "Once politicians start censoring what teachers say and how they do their jobs, there is no telling how far that censorship will extend or what they will want to censor next. It is a very slippery slope."
Florida's law prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade.
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