Wisconsin Senate passes ‘parental bill of rights’ that critics describe as a power grab - TAI News
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The Wisconsin State Senate voted Feb. 13 to pass Assembly Bill 510, which would create a sprawling list of information that educators would have to give parents about their children.

Proponents of A.B. 510 call it a “Parental Bill of Rights.” Critics say it imposes widespread censorship of teaching and discussion about racism, sexual orientation and other pivotal subjects. The bill also would mandate that parents approve the names and pronouns their children would be known by in school, even if their children’s choices differed.

The bill passed along strict party lines in both the Senate and the Assembly, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. However, A.B. 510 mirrors a bill that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers already vetoed in 2022, making it likely he will veto this one as well.

“This bill disguises classroom censorship as parental rights, enabling politicians to require the forced outing, misgendering, and deadnaming of trans and nonbinary students,” Amanda Merkwae, advocacy director at the ACLU of Wisconsin, said in a statement condemning the bill’s passage. “It also inhibits educational instruction on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other important topics that impact all of us.”

The bill would require schools to notify parents before educators discuss anything deemed a controversial subject with students. However, the bill’s definition of “controversial subject” is wide-ranging: matters of “substantial public debate,” including “gender identity, sexual orientation, racial identity, structural, systemic, or institutional racism, or content that is not age-appropriate.”

Ahead of the Assembly’s vote to pass A.B. 510 in January, Democratic Rep. Christine Sinicki argued that the broad wording in the bill could result in teachers not being allowed to educate students about the Civil Rights Movement or other historical events.

She said that the bill’s provision allowing parents to sue schools not in compliance with its requirements could lead to lawsuits against schools for matters outside their control.

Even parts of the bill that are not harmful are simply unnecessary, Sinicki said: “This long list of things that children and families need to be protected from — most of it is already policy and law.” … The right to receive accurate and individual information from the child’s school at least two times per year — those are called report cards. Families get them four times a year.

Democratic Sen. Chris Larson, who previously described A.B. 510 as “the Book Burner’s Bill of Rights,” said in a tweet on the day of the Senate’s vote that the bill uniquely targets public education: “Taxpayer-funded religious schools are free to operate as usual.”

The ACLU says that the bill shows lawmakers are trying to keep teachers and students alike from discussing or even acknowledging injustices that have occurred throughout U.S. history and that it would put LGBTQ+ students in danger by forcibly outing them to their parents.

“Students should have the freedom to explore their identities, and they also deserve the right to receive an equitable education where they can freely learn and talk about the history, experiences, and viewpoints of marginalized communities in this country,” the ACLU said.

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