Stanly board discusses parental consent policy, gender identity, sex ed

The Stanly County Board of Education tabled a policy at its most recent meeting about parental consent for students regarding issues of gender identity, names and health screening forms.

Board member Dustin Lisk asked for Policy 1310/4002 to be pulled out from a list of policies up for approval.

Lisk said the policy changes were because of the Parental Bill of Rights recently passed by the North Carolina legislature.

One paragraph Lisk objected to read as follows: “Before any student well-being questionnaire or health screening form is administered to students in kindergarten through third grade, the principal or designee shall provide parents with a copy of the questionnaire or form and shall inform parents of the means for parents to consent to the use of the questionnaire or form for their children.”

Lisk asked why consent stopped in third grade and asked why the policy could not be for students through 12th grade. He referenced Policy 3540, which the board passed unanimously, stating: “Instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality will not be included in the health education program in kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition, there shall be no classroom instruction on these same topics in fifth through twelfth grade outside the district’s approved curriculum or as part of a Board-approved program or service.”

“My question was, ‘What happens after fourth grade?’ Because it also says under the law, beginning in seventh grade, reproductive health and safety education will include age-appropriate instruction on abstinence until marriage, STDs and human reproductive systems, preventable risk for pre-term birth and subsequent pregnancies, the effectiveness of contraceptive methods in preventing pregnancy, awareness of sexual assault and sexual abuse, and sex trafficking prevention and awareness.”

Additionally, Lisk said there will be no classroom instruction on topics such as gender identity, sexual activity and sexuality in fifth through 12th grade.

“I am of the opinion, parents should be able to provide consent for their minor child until they are 18 or emancipated,” Lisk said.

The other paragraph he disagreed with read as follows: “In addition, the principal or designee shall notify parents before any changes are made to the names or pronouns used for their children in school records or by school personnel.”

Lisk said his question for the board’s attorney concerned parental consent. “If the child wants to call themselves another name, what is the school system going to do?”

He said he felt if his child wanted to change, he as a parent was legally responsible for the child, adding the school system should abide by what a parent says regarding their child.

Board member Glenda Gibson asked Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis what would happen if the new policy was tabled.

“If the policy is not in place, it reverts back to general statute,” Dennis said. He added general statute said the board will have to codify House Bill 49 into SCS local policy.

Lisk said the Parental Bill of Rights was “an oxymoron” if parents did not have consent for a minor child who wishes to change their name or pronouns.

The board passed the motion to table the policy unanimously.