We publish, in its entirety, this release from State Representative Victoria Sullivan, R-Manchester Ward 9 regarding the passage of HB332, which she sponsored. The bill requires parents to be notified prior to the teaching of content relating to human sexuality.
For Immediate Release:
Representative Victoria Sullivan
House Education Committee
Hillsborough District 16
Today the Senate passed HB332 of which I am the Primary Sponsor.
The intention of HB332 is to allow parents notification of certain subject material, specifically material relating to human sexuality prior to its teaching. This would allow parents the opportunity to open the conversation prior to the lesson and then to follow up with their children after the fact, when they could have questions. It amends RSA 186:11 which currently allows parents the opportunity to opt their child out of what they may consider to be objectionable course material, but does not require any parental notification of such materials. This will correct that weakness in the law and provide parents an opportunity to work with schools to engage parents.
There have been very public local incidents where parents would have chosen to handle the subject matter in a different manner than a school or teacher chose to. In these instances parents found out after the fact and that made for a very difficult situation for all. This bill would alleviate that kind of conflict between parents and schools and instead make them partners in education as should be the case.
I first realized that there was a need for this bill last spring my son watched a video in health class that was titled, “Assertive Speech.” Several students found the video upsetting and informed their parents. I and other parents later viewed the video. We found it to be inappropriate for many eight year olds. It was too descriptive and the conversation between the uncle and his nephew was disturbing. What was most alarming to me was that the child, in the end, confronted the uncle by himself. That is not ever a message that should be sent to children. How many children saw this video and now think that is the way to handle the situation? How many parents have no idea that their children have seen videos like this that could be confusing or simply deliver dangerous advice?
If this bill had been in place, I would have received proper notification and opted my child out of that particular lesson. The subject matter is important, but how it is delivered is even more so.
Many parents have reached out to me after hearing of this bill. One local middle school parent contacted me describing an incident in health class. Only after her 13 year old had taken the class did she learn that her daughter was introduced to certain sexual acts. She came home very distraught as did many of her classmates. The parent also learned that the students had to participate in the discussion in a co-ed classroom. Had this bill been in place, these parents would have received prior notification and, understanding that their children were too young to yet handle such topics, would have chosen to handle the subject matter in a different way. This mom wrote “my daughter lost something that day.” Once innocence is taken away, it cannot be replaced with an apology.
This bill will prevent situations like ones I have just described. These are important issues to discuss with our children. Prior notification will open the doors of communication and allow parents to be a part of the conversation; whether the result is supporting the education they are receiving at school or choosing to provide that education within the home.
I am grateful that the Senate saw the value of this bill and passed it in their chambers. This is positive step for parental involvement and parental rights.