The Guilford County Board of Education will vote on revisions to three policies next week in alignment with the state’s new Parents’ Bill of Rights

Senate Bill 49 became law in North Carolina back in August, which prompted school districts across the state to make changes to existing policies to comply with the new legislation. 

Guilford County Schools sent three policy revisions out for public comment in September, related to parental involvement and health education. Policy Committee Chair T. Dianne Bellamy Small explained one of the changes at a meeting that month. 

“This revision incorporates the new state requirement prohibiting instruction of gender identity, sexual activity and sexuality in the curriculum for grades kindergarten through fourth grade," she said.

Other changes include a list of new student activities that require parental consent, and a requirement to notify parents if their student wants to use a different name or pronouns. 

The district received 34 public comments on the revisions, all in opposition to the changes, including one from Rachel Riskind.  

She has three kids in Guilford County Schools and a PhD in Community and Developmental Psychology. She said the new law could be harmful to LGBTQ youth, as well as students with LGBTQ parents. 

“There's a lot of research out there showing that these kinds of policies can harm children's mental and physical health," Riskind said. "So not only does it contribute to things like depression, anxiety, suicidality, but we also see the toll that the stress can take on children's well-being.”

She said this legislation, and the proposed district policy changes, interfere with her rights as a parent to keep her children safe. 

"It's really upsetting to me as a parent who views not only my rights, but my responsibilities as a parent, to help protect children who attend our public school system," Riskind said. 

The Guilford County Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the revised policies at their next meeting on Nov. 14.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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