Some NC school districts resist implementing Parents Bill of Rights

By Mary Summa

Raleigh, NC – Across the state, county by county, school boards are grappling with how to comply with the new Parents’ Bill of Rights, SB49. The Parents’ Bill of Rights was passed to spell out all of the rights parents have with regard to schools and healthcare decision-making. It also contains provisions to stop the indoctrination of young children with LGBTQ ideology by schools and to stop schools from keeping important medical information from parents, like a child’s desire to transition to another gender.

Children in a classroom (Source: CDC)

Some boards have complied. Others are trying hard but haven’t reached the goal yet. Still others are simply defiant. 

Defiance was indeed on full display Thursday evening, Dec. 7, in Buncombe County. After reviewing the proposed policies, a team of parents went to the school board meeting and expressed their concerns about how some of the school board’s proposed policies simply don’t comply with the new law. While there were several non-compliant sections regarding curriculum transparency, the roof blew off the building when parents pointed out that the proposed policy was non-compliant on notification to parents if their child wishes to change their name or pronoun at school. This is the provision of the new Parents’ Bill of Rights that prevents “secret transitioning” at school facilitated by sympathetic teachers or faculty members. 

SB49 simply requires that prior to a change in pronoun or name usage in school records or by school personnel, parents are to be notified. Period. Yet the Buncombe County policy, wrapped in the cloak of concern for student safety, gutted that requirement. 

Specifically, the Buncombe County School Board’s proposed policy states that before parents are called, the principal or designee should speak to the student to ascertain concerns, address the situation “on a case-by-case basis balancing the student’s request with the requirements of state and federal law,” and “consult with their Director of Student Services [the social workers] on how to proceed.” 

In effect, the Buncombe County policy allows the school to hide name/pronoun changes from parents if the school personnel thinks, on balance, the secret is best kept at school.  This flies in the face of the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which sought to end “secret transitioning” and to involve parents in important medical decisions like transitioning to the opposite sex. 

When parents brought this point to the school board’s attention, board members became angry. A spokesman for the Campaign for Southern Equality (a pro-LGBTQ activist group located in Asheville) joined in the fray and insisted that the Parents’ Bill of Rights language would harm LGBTQ students and that the board was simply trying to “mitigate the harms of SB49 as much as possible.” 

Orange County went a step further. The most recently publicized proposal states that if a child expresses his/her desire to change names or pronouns, the child needs to be reminded about the parental notification requirement. If the child wants to proceed, the Director of Student Services (the social workers) should be notified, and if the parent expresses concern about the change when contacted, again, the Director of Student Services should be notified. Notification of the Director of Student Services should raise red flags for parents as being the first step towards the state asserting an interest in facilitating a child’s transition to the opposite sex, while treating parents as the enemy.

Another problem in Orange County arises for teachers who refuse to use the preferred name/pronouns; they can be disciplined for sexual harassment.   

Parents should not be bullied into silence by the threat of notifying social services. Activist groups and school boards who cow-tow to them should not be allowed to use a few bad parents to strip all parents of their fundamental right to parent their child. Our children are not wards of the state. In this country, parents have a legal and moral obligation to make decisions for their children regarding education, ethical training, and medical care as they see fit. As the Supreme Court stated in 1979, stripping all parents’ rights simply because of bad parenting by a few is “repugnant to the American tradition.” 

The gender issue is one of the biggest ideological and medical threats to our nation’s children. Children are transitioning in record numbers, without fully understanding the long-term medical and emotional harm from transitioning. In some cases, the schools are assisting in this endeavor, hiding it from parents. Unlike the small number of cases years ago, the majority of minors today who are transitioning are suffering from rapid-onset gender dysphoria, meaning it has only recently been discovered. If left alone, around 80% will desist and become comfortable with the identity that matches their biology once they go through puberty. 

Orange and Buncombe counties are not outliers. Undoubtedly, other counties will take up the banner of defiance. Parents need to stand up against this ideology, and state legislators need to act in the next session to force these school districts to comply. Our children’s safety depends on it. 


Mary Summa is the general counsel for NC Values Coalition.