TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill that would create a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” to offer parents more control over issues such as their children’s education and health care was approved by a House committee Thursday.
The bill (HB 1059), sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, drew opposition from LGBT groups and Planned Parenthood. Opponents argue the bill could hurt gay and transgender children and prevent access to birth control for some minors.
But supporters say the bill, approved by the House Education Committee, would help give parents more control over their children’s upbringing.
For instance, parents would be able to withdraw their children from “any portion of the school district’s comprehensive health education” if they find the coursework goes against their moral, sexual or religious beliefs. Under state law, health education includes sex education.
The bill also would prohibit health-care practitioners from prescribing drugs, such as birth control, to children without written parental consent. A violation of that provision would be a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Grall’s proposal would require all school districts to adopt policies that promote parental involvement. House Education Chairwoman Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, backed the proposal, saying it is important to keep parents involved in their children’s education.
“For parents that are actively involved in the lives of their children, I think it is so important for the government not to get in the way of that,” Sullivan said.
The proposal would need to clear two more committees before it could go to the full House.
An identical Senate bill (SB 1634), sponsored by Senate Education Appropriations Chairwoman Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, has not been heard.