State Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed House Bill (HB) 1155 “relating to parental rights in public education and prohibiting instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity for certain public school students.”
“The sexualization of our children must stop. Parents and taxpayers have spoken loudly over the past year-plus,” Patterson said in a statement.
“The message is no more radical ideology in the classroom — particularly when it comes to inappropriate or obscene content. Given what we’ve uncovered, this bill is needed to provide parents with the maximum transparency and control over health-related services in our schools.”
Patterson has been busy during the interim finding and challenging books in the libraries of Frisco ISD deemed sexually explicit and inappropriate for school-aged children.
Frisco ISD removed 26 of the 28 books challenged by Patterson, including “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which describes a sex scene in detail.
Parents across the state and country have issued similar challenges to books found in other district libraries, and spearheaded an overtaking of many school boards with conservative candidates directly confronting the broader gender-curriculum issue.
But Patterson’s bill goes beyond library books.
First, it lays out a parental right to information “regarding a student ’s mental, emotional, and physical health and health-related services offered by the school.”
This means that schools could not withhold any mental health or other medical information from parents. A similar provision was filed in the Texas Senate in 2017 by then-Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) — now founder and CEO of The Texan — which caused a stir among organizations such as Equality Texas and the Texas State Teachers Association.
Patterson’s bill also sets guidelines for how school districts may solicit mental health information from their students as well as a requirement to notify parents.
But the third part of the bill is perhaps the most relevant at the moment.
“A school district, open-enrollment charter school, or district or charter school employee may not provide or allow a third party to provide instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity to students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate,” the bill reads.
The kindergarten-through-eighth grade restriction on sex and gender instruction in classrooms parallels a Florida law that made the national spotlight last year — and drew a similar amount of criticism from many in the media and on the political left.
However, whereas Florida’s law limited the restriction to kindergarten-through-third grade, Patterson’s proposal extends it further. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called for a Texas version of the law last year.
State Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), who echoed Patrick’s sentiment and promised to file such legislation, did so with a similar bill to Patterson’s ahead of the 2023 session. Toth’s version stops at fifth grade but would create a civil cause of action option for parents to sue districts found to be violating the proposed law.
The Texas Legislature reconvenes on January 10. Education, and all that falls under it, is expected to once again be a focal point.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.