On Thursday, the House Democrats unanimously voted against legislation that would have required parental consent before schools could provide mental health services to students related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The House rejected a Republican attempt to amend a bill to improve mental health care for students and educators who were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mental Health Matters Act is a bill that would provide grants for the building of a network of school-based mental healthcare providers and the increase in the number of mental health professionals who can provide mental health services to elementary schools and secondary schools in high need areas. These grants would be allocated by the Department of Education.
Rep. Lisa McClain (R.Mich.), proposed a motion to send back the bill to committee to include language that requires parental consent and notice before students can receive certain services.
McClain’s amendment required that recipients of mental health grants provide written notice to parents of any mental health or emotional services they provided to their children, including those related to their child’s or another child’s sexual orientation.
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McClain stated on Thursday that his amendment “would establish that parents have right to be informed about any mental health-related issues with their child,” McClain said. In other words, schools cannot hide important information from parents.
Michigan lawmaker, Annette L. Smith, stated that her amendment was necessary to address the issue of teachers and school employees “bragging” about how they secretly discuss transgender topics with students. These examples are easy to find online, she said. The controversial Twitter account Libs of TikTok highlights the most egregious examples of school employees uploading videos to social media describing how they teach their children sexual orientation and gender identity, without informing their parents.
“School personnel and officials are not parents. McClain stated that school personnel and officials have no right not to respect a parent’s decision about what is best for their child.
However, Democrats voted in blocs to defeat the motion to recommit. The final bill was passed 220 to205 with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R.Pa.) as the only Republican to vote for it.
Republican leaders attacked McClain’s amendment for being opposed by Democrats. Kevin McCarthy, Republican Minority Leader (Calif.), stated that House Democrats had blocked a bill that required schools to give parental consent and provide notice before students could receive health services.
He said that House Republicans believed parents had rights, including the right to participate in all decisions regarding their child’s health.
Democrats stated that the Mental Health Matters Act was necessary to address mental health problems plaguing students after the pandemic.
According to The Hill, DeSaulnier said that the Mental Health Matters Act provides the resources students, teachers, and families need for better well-being.