Wake County wants the public’s input on how to update its parental involvement policy to meet the state’s Jan. 1 deadline for following the new “Parents’ Bill of Rights” law.
Wake is taking comments at my.thoughtexchange.comscroll/570732221/ through Wednesday on proposed revisions to the policy. The policy includes wording on handling parental notification of issues such as when students want to change their name and pronoun.
Wake has been taking comments since late October. Administrators say they plan to use the public comments to shape revisions when the policy is presented to the school board for approval in December.
“We’re going to allow a process for parents to give feedback, and our goal is to still to meet our deadline of Jan. 1,” board member Monika Johnson-Hostler said at last month’s policy committee meeting. “We’re hanging on by a thread, but we can make it happen.”
GOP passes Parents’ Bill of Rights
The new law requires North Carolina school districts to adopt parental involvement policies that include providing information on how to review and object to school materials.
Many of the things cited in the new state law are already required to be provided to parents. But there are new things like requiring parental notification before their child can change their name or pronoun.
The Parents’ Bill of Rights also bans instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality in the curriculum in kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms.
Wake is borrowing wording from the N.C. School Boards Association’s model parent involvement policy. But the district is also adding its own language.
How will schools handle name and pronoun changes
Several current and former Wake LGBTQ students have urged the district to provide teachers more guidance on how to handle parental notification of name and pronoun changes.
The students say some teachers are now requiring LGBTQ students to have their parents fill out a form requiring permission for all name and pronoun changes. The students say at most that notification and not permission is needed.
Wake’s updated policy says the principal or their designee will notify parents before any changes are made to the names or pronouns used for their children in school records or by school personnel.
Administrators are expected to provide schools with detailed guidance.
Wake says it doesn’t teach gender identity
One of the most contentious parts of the new state law is the ban on instruction on gender identity, sexuality, and sexual activity in K-4 classes.
“None of our curricular standards in any grade address gender identity or sexuality,” Julie Crain, Wake’s director of strategy and policy, said at last month’s school board policy committee meeting. “Let me say that again. None of our instructional standards given to us by the State Board of Education addressed these things: gender identity or sexuality.”
Crain said that sexual activity is discussed when it’s part of the curriculum in reproductive health classes. State lawmakers didn’t apply the sexual activity ban to fifth-grade because that’s when topics such as puberty are discussed.
Wake isn’t applying the Parents’ Bill of Rights ban on instruction on gender identity, sexuality and sexual activity in K-4 classes to books in elementary school libraries.
Neighboring Johnston County recently gave final approval to policies applying the new law to elementary school library books by saying their supplementary materials are covered under the legislation’s definition of curriculum. The district is also expanding the law to supplementary materials provided to fifth-grade students.