Introduced into the US House of Representatives by Julia Letlow (R-Louisiana), HR 5 is a “parental rights” bill that would pour fuel onto the fire of book bans nationwide. The bill has over 70 cosponsors, all of which are Republican.It is expected that the bill will be voted on sometime this week.
HR 5 protects parental rights to the children’s education. The bill has five key elements:
- Parents have the right to know what their children are taught
- Parents have the right to be heard
- Parents have the right to see the school budget and spending
- Parents have the right to protect their children’s privacy
- Parents have the right to keep their kids safe.
Nowhere does the bill specify or codify the rights children have to their education. It also does not articulate the ways these “parental rights” infringe on the First Amendment Rights of their children, educators, or young people more broadly.
The Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley praised the bill, stating that, “Children belong to their parents and it’s essential to codify these undeniable rights.” Louisiana is the same state where Attorney General Jeff Landry has created a snitch line for reporting teachers and librarians who retain “inappropriate material” in their classrooms and collections.
Despite the name and description, it blatantly overlooks the fact parents have always had rights when it comes to their children’s education. “Parental rights” have been a popular talking point among right wing politicians and “grassroots” groups like Moms For Liberty and No Left Turn in Education. This purposeful misnomer suggests parents have not been allowed to have a say in what their children learn or where they learn; however, parents have always had rights and until the beginning of the pandemic, some chose not to exercise them. Moms For Liberty has been caught in a blatant lie about “parental rights,” sharing misinformation about where and how parents can make a call on what materials their children have access to in school.