“This is to make sure we empower parents and that they are informed of issues going on with their child at school on a daily basis,” state senator Joe Gruters, the sponsor of the bill, told the Orlando Sentinel.
Under the new law, schools would be required to have written plans in place “to promote parental involvement.” These policies would have to clearly explain to parents what rights they have, including vaccination exemptions and the right to remove children from certain classes (like sex education) due to moral or religious beliefs.
Additionally, any information that parents requested about their child would have to be provided within 10 days by the school’s superintendent.
And in terms of health care, students would now have to get parental consent for any mental or physical health examinations and any prescription drugs, including birth control. The proposed law would have one exception: children who need immediate medical assistance could receive it without parental permission.
Access to medical information, particularly when it comes to mental health, is something that Gruters says is absolutely necessary, in light of increased suicide rates. “There have been numerous cases around the state where parents weren’t informed that their kids were suicidal, and they ended up going to try and commit suicide,” he explained to ABC7 News. “It’s just unacceptable that we have that separation.”
However, the bill also raises a lot of questions about privacy rights. Some people are concerned that children may be afraid to seek help if they know their parents will be informed, particularly when it comes to sensitive topics like counseling or birth control. “I think it could have a very detrimental effect on their medical care,” Democratic senator Lori Berman said to the Orlando Sentinel, adding, “This bill could affect the ability for a minor to obtain some reproductive health care.”
The “Parents Bill of Rights” still has to make it through two committee sessions before being passed.