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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: June 8, 2022 02:08 PM
From: Senator Scott Martin and Sen. Ryan P. Aument
To: All Senate members
Subject: Empowering Families in Education
In the near future, we will introduce legislation that will improve transparency and opportunities for parents to make decisions involving their child’s education.

We have heard many concerns from parents that age-inappropriate conversations about sexual orientation or gender identity are occurring prematurely and without parental knowledge or consent in elementary school classrooms around the state. This is wrong from both an academic perspective, as well as a parental rights perspective.

Pennsylvania’s existing academic standards do not require sexual education curriculum in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Therefore, there is no academic justification for a teacher to initiate conversations or classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity with these young children. If these topics are important to a family, it should be up to the family to determine how and when their child is introduced to it. 

More importantly, parents have a fundamental right to decide the educational, moral, ideological, and religious upbringing of their children without unreasonable government interference in the classroom undermining that right. Considering that it’s unlikely all parents in a single school district would be able to reach a consensus on how and when to have these pivotal discussions with their young children, we must work to find solutions that empower parents to educate their own children on these sensitive topics at their own pace without having their hand forced by the public school system.

To that end, we intend to introduce a bill that would:
  • Prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students, consistent with the timeline for when the existing academic standards on general sex education begins in sixth grade.
  • Require adherence to existing state standards of age-appropriate content for any discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation that occur in grades 6-12.
  • Prohibit a school from withholding information from parents in accordance with existing state and federal laws.
  • Increase transparency by requiring public schools to develop a policy for notifying parents when there is a change to a student’s services or monitoring.
  • Protect students in the LGBTQ community by providing critical exemptions if it can be reasonably demonstrated that parental notification would result in abuse or abandonment of a minor.
This legislation also provides that in the event a student is personally facing issues related to sexual orientation or gender identity and wishes to discuss it with school personnel, they are not barred from having that conversation or offering support services to the student.

However, it is only right that a parent is not barred from being part of this kind of conversation with their child. A school should not withhold information from a parent that is vital to the physical and emotional well-being of that child. 

We all have a vested interest in making sure our children are safe and grow to be happy and healthy. Therefore, we must all work together to find fair solutions that accommodate the needs of parents and children from different backgrounds.

We believe our bill is one such solution that will appropriately balance the needs of parents, children, and members of the LGBTQ community.

For further clarification about what the bill does and does not do, examples of situations that concerned parents have reported from classrooms around the state, and other important information, please review our dedicated webpage here.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1278