Today there was a hearing on HB1231 before the House Education Committee. HB1231 requires school districts to provide advance notice to parents and legal guardians of course material involving discussion of human sexuality or human sexual education along with drug and alcohol education.
This is a “parental rights” piece of legislation that is needed in New Hampshire since many parents have not been notified prior to discussions on these important topics.
One would wonder, who could possibly oppose legislation that supports parental rights? Sadly there are a few, and you might be surprised to find out, you pay their salary.
Below is a video of Dean Michener from the New Hampshire School Boards Association (NHSBA). He starts out by telling the committee members why the NHSBA opposes local public schools notifying parents when these topics will be discussed with their children.
Parents may recall that recently there was legislation (SB369) proposed by Senator Nancy Stiles (R) that would force drug and alcohol education on children as young as five years old. That Bill was passed by the New Hampshire Senate but was amended to remove the unfunded mandate she was proposing and instead suggest that schools “should” teach children about drugs and alcohol to children k-12.
I suspect that this legislation will go through and be signed by Governor Hassan. If HB1231 were to be signed into law, this would ensure that parents would receive notification.
Why is HB1231 important? Often times prevention programs used in schools can actually counter what they are trying to do. In other words, some programs can be ineffective costing taxpayers a great deal of money and some can actually do the opposite of what they intend which can have a dangerous impact on children.
Parents are very concerned about these social issues and look to the schools for additional help and resources. However it’s critical that these programs and resource do exactly what they are intended to do (prevention) and that they are offered at age appropriate times.
Parents realize that this can mean some children may be ready for information on sexuality, while other children may not be.
By notifying the parents they get to examine the materials, determine if it’s age appropriate for their children, agree to have their children participate, or in some instances, opt-their child out of the program.
Dean Michener and the NHSBA receive their funding directly from your school’s budget. That means parents fund the school who turns around and sends the NHSBA “dues.” When that happens you’ve essentially paid for a lobbyist to deny you your parental rights.
One solution to this problem would be to stop funding the NHSBA by eliminating this expenditure from your school’s budget. If you sit on a budget committee, request that your district stop paying dues to the NHSBA. If you sit on a school board, request that you district stop paying dues to the NHSBA. If you are a parent ask your school board members and administrators to stop forcing you to pay dues to the NHSBA.
If the NHSBA is providing services to your board members, find out if those services are something the board members can be doing. There are some schools in New Hampshire that do not pay dues to the NHSBA and use that money towards more important items.
Another organization who opposed HB1231 was Planned Parenthood. This comes as no surprise to me since Planned Parenthood continually fights to deny parents their fundamental rights.
Parents are not always seeking a way to avoid these topics with their children. Sometimes notification allows them to begin the discussion at home and follow up after their children attend a presentation. While some schools do a good job of notifying parents when these topics will be discussed, I’ve heard from other parents that they were never notified.
It’s important for parents in New Hampshire to send letters and call their elected representatives to support HB1231 when it comes to the House floor for a vote.
I also encourage you to read testimony from a New Hampshire parent explain how her school did not notify her about an assignment to purchase condoms. This builds up a mistrust for those who are entrusted to their children every day.
Dear Members of the House Education Committee,
Please support HB 1231 that gives parents forewarning of course material involving discussion of human sexuality or human sexual education.
Health class is a half credit requirement in my son’s high school and it is usually given in 9th grade. Parents are given a syllabus that is basically an outline of the topics that would be discussed and referenced things such as: substance use and abuse, relationships, sexuality, mental health, stress management, etc… Nowhere on this syllabus does it reveal to parents the types of materials or the specific class assignments that would be used to instruct the students regarding sex ed.
One of the assignments in my son’s class required the students to obtain a condom either from the school nurse or for extra credit, the pharmacy. The students were asked to bring the condom into class and then lined up (boys and girls together) and had to put the condom on an anatomically correct, erect, plastic penis. I would not have known about my son’s participation in this classroom exercise, if he did not tell me. Some of you may think that is a perfectly appropriate assignment for a group of fifteen year olds but some of you may feel that this exercise had crossed the line. That is my point. Each family will feel differently about this very sensitive material and should be given advanced notice.
The families who would find this material offensive would appreciate the forewarning and the opportunity to discuss alternatives to meet the health standards. For the families who are okay with assignments such as these, the advance notice would give them the opportunity to prepare for further discussion at home to reinforce what was talked about in the classroom.
It is the responsibility of parents to raise their children in the context of their own morals and values and schools should play a supporting role, not the other way around. Therefore, I urge you to support HB1231.
Parent fromPortsmouth, NH
Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org