House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. (L-R), Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La., look on during a news conference on the introduction of the so-called Parents Bill of Rights at the U.S. Capitol on March 1. The bill passed along near party lines on Friday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
March 24 (UPI) -- House Republicans in a near party-line vote passed a Parents Bill of Rights education bill that would require local school districts to publicly share their curricula, mandate that parents meet their teachers, and report when violence occurs on school grounds.
The legislative proposal also would give parents a list of books and reading materials in school libraries, as well as give parents a role in creating school policies on a range of issues.
The House passed the legislation 213-208, with a small handful of Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition to the bill. It now goes to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is not expected to get a vote.
The bill seemed to take advantage of far-right talking points about restricting LGBTQ rights and limiting discussions about race and equality. These and other culture-war topics increasingly have boiled over in local school board meetings throughout the country.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La., said during the floor debate she saw it as assisting parents with transparency and rejected the idea that the legislation was an attack on teachers or that it is "partisan or polarizing."
"It is not an attempt to have Congress dictate their curriculum or determine the books in the library," Letlow said, according to The Hill. "Instead, this bill aims to bring more transparency and accountability to education, allowing parents to be informed and when they have questions and concerns to lawfully bring them to their local school boards."
The measure, which did receive a vote under Democrat control in the last Congress, comes as conservatives throughout the country continue a relentless push to ban books on topics that include sexual orientation, gender identity, and racial equality.
While Democrats roundly criticized the bill on the House floor, the White House issued its own statement slamming the measure, charging it was actually putting students at risk.
"Instead of making LGBTQI+ students feel included in their school community, it puts them at higher risk," the White House said, according to NBC News.
"The administration strongly supports actions that empower parents to engage with their children's teachers and schools, like enabling parents to take time off to attend school meetings. Legislation should not politicize our children's education."