All Idaho school districts would have to allow parents to withdraw their children from activities or programs that oppose parental beliefs under legislation passed in the state Senate on Monday.
“This bill aims to put in writing the rights of parents to be the primary decision makers for their children,” Sen. Mary Souza said. “Parents’ rights are given to us by God. We are not saying the state is granting these rights. We are simply putting it in writing in our code that this is the case … and we acknowledge the rights that parents have.”
After much debate and with bipartisan opposition, the bill passed in the Senate with a 23-12 vote. To become law, the bill still requires approval from the House and the governor’s signature.
Souza added that in regards to education, parents have no meaningful recourse to protect their children from something they believe is harmful, which is why the bill was developed.
The bill is opposed by the Idaho School Boards Association, the Idaho School Administrators Association, and the Idaho Education Association. Sen. Abby Lee complained that the bill lacked clarity.
“If parents want to opt out of something or replace something, whose responsibility is that?” Lee asked. “And is that going to become onerous on our teachers and our school districts and potentially our parents?”
In addition to allowing parents to opt their children out of certain classes or activities, the bill would require schools to develop a plan improving parent and teacher cooperation in areas like homework, attendance and discipline. It would also require public schools to develop a process by which parents could learn more about their children’s course of study.
Souza noted that the bill would require an annual notice of parental rights.