Gov. Mike Dunleavy has introduced a bill for the Alaska Legislature which would amend state education statutes to strengthen parental rights over their children’s education.
The bill aims to create stronger notification and consent requirements to empower and inform parents about the instruction and policies that are being presented to kids.
During a March 7 press conference, Dunleavy said the goal is to clarify existing state law that requires parental notification before educators discuss sexual matters with students. The proposed law would require notification and written permission from parents before students learn about “gender identity” issues.
It would also mandate that schools get written permission from parents before changing the name or pronouns they use in referring to a child.
In order to better hold school accountable, Dunleavy’s bill requires school districts to inform parents, in writing, of their right to pursue legal action against a district if the parent’s rights have been violated.
“I’ve supported increasing parental involvement in education as a school principal and school board president,” Dunleavy said in announcing the bill. “Then as a State Senator in 2016 I sponsored the bill that codified some parental rights in education in Alaska. This bill builds upon that work to increase family involvement and secure parental rights in education.”
The governor added, “Research shows that involving families more in a child’s education leads to better relationships and improved educational outcomes for students, and this bill will do just that.”
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In addition to instructional and name change matters, the bill also aims to ensure that a school district does not selectively withhold information regarding a child’s physical, medical, or mental health from a parent, foster parent, or guardian unless a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure of the information would result in child abuse or neglect.
Finally, the bill also seeks to safeguard a student’s right to privacy by requiring school districts to include procedures addressing the physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms and restrooms as part of the school’s disciplinary and safety program.
Physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms is to be addressed through the physical separation of students by biological sex, access to single occupant facilities, or other safety and privacy protocols consistent with Alaska law.