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Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would leave children without the right to learn about subjects their parents disagree with. The bill, named SB 1634, has been narrowly backed by a Florida Senate panel in a 3-2 vote in front of the Senate Education Committee. This bill would allow parents to pull their children from lessons that are not aligned with their personal beliefs. Some of the topics that come to mind are: the theory of evolution; climate change; sex education, etc. In addition to those topics, there is a possibility that parents who are white supremacists will forbid their children from learning about African American history or the achievements of other cultures for example.
State Senator Kelli Stargel, who filed SB 1634, said in her closing statement that all she was trying to do was clarify what rights parents have and establish procedures to safeguard what they think are in their child’s best interest. “This bill is not a huge departure from what we have in law,” she said, as The Herald Tribune reports. “It is basically compiling together (in law) for the parents to be involved with their children, that parents know they have rights, and parents have the ability to govern their children in a way they feel is best.”
This bill is promoting "parental rights" but what about children's rights? There is no mention of children's rights in the bill and sometimes there is a collision between parental and children rights because parents don't always know what is best for their children. There are parents who beat their children, who neglect them or teach them about wrong ideas. School has always been an institution where children can learn more about topics their parents are not familiar with or not experts in and that is why it is not wise to allow parents to recreate school's education programs.
There is also a possibility that this bill could pose problem for children wrestling with their sexuality or those who deal with abusive parents. One part of the bill states that schools must share "important information" with parents so this definition is too broad and not precise and it leaves an open door for possible abuses. According to The Herald Tribune, Senator Lori Berman, who led the opposition when the committee debated the bill, questioned what "important information" includes and could it be information confided by a student to a counselor or a teacher. “What is ‘important information’? Who is going to decide that?” Berman asked. “Children who are in at-risk situations often use school personnel as their safety net ... I worry that this is going to take the safety net away from these students and be harmful for at-risk students,” she added.