Democratic and Republican leaders took turns accusing the other party of being “extreme” Friday after the House of Representatives passed the Parents Bill of Rights Act mostly on party lines.
In the lead up to the vote, Democrats accused the bill of promoting “fascism” and said it was “extreme,” claiming it will lead to banning books and outing LGBTQ+ students. No Democrats voted for the legislation, and after it passed House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters the GOP was attempting to “jam their right wing ideology down the throats of students, teachers and parents throughout America.”
“Extreme MAGA Republicans want to ban books on the Holocaust. Ban books on the Holocaust. Extreme MAGA Republicans want to ban books on Martin Luther King Jr. Extreme MAGA Republicans want to ban books on the LGBTQ journey in the United States of America. Extreme MAGA Republicans even want to ban a book on Roberto Clemente and baseball,” Jeffries claimed at the weekly Democratic press conference Friday. “That’s their educational agenda.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., also led a news conference with members of his party, returning fire at the Democrats for opposing the bill.
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“We have such an extreme minority party that they couldn’t even denounce socialism,” McCarthy said, referring to a House resolution condemning socialism that Democrats opposed. “Such an extreme minority part that thinks you should decriminalize carjacking and even some forms of murder. Such an extreme minority party, in the Democrats, that they think parents shouldn’t have a say in their kids’ education.”
Republicans say their legislation channels growing anger from parents across the country about access to information on everything from school curricula to safety and mask policies to the prevalence of gender ideology and critical race theory in the classroom.
The Parents Bill of Rights Act would require school districts to give parents access to curriculum and reading lists and would require schools to inform parents if school staff begin encouraging or promoting their child’s gender transition.
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Democrats view it as an attack on LGBTQ+ people. They argued that informing parents if their child uses different pronouns or expresses as a different gender at school would “out” them before they are ready, inflicting harm.
The bill says parents have “the right to know if a school employee or contractor acts to … change a minor child’s gender markers, pronouns, or preferred name; or … allow a child to change the child’s sex-based accommodations, including locker rooms or bathrooms.”
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As for book bans, the bill text states that parents would have a right to “a list of the books and other reading materials available in the library of their child’s school” and may “inspect such books or other reading materials.” There is no legislative language that instructs schools to remove books from the library or create a list of banned books.
House Republicans argue the books under attack in some states and communities are those that include explicit sexual content that they say is not appropriate for certain ages and isn’t a core educational requirement. Democrats insist those arguments are a pretext to target LGBTQ+ content in schools, motivated by bigotry and hate.
The Parents Bill of Rights Act now heads to the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority. In the unlikely event the bill gets a vote and passes there, President Biden would almost surely side with his fellow Democrats and veto it.
Fox News’ Peter Kasperowicz contributed to this report.
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