Local education leaders came together for a roundtable discussion at the Forsyth County Central Library Monday evening to talk about how recent legislation will impact public schools.
Senate Bill 49, known as the "Parents' Bill of Rights," was a major topic of discussion. The North Carolina General Assembly voted last week to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the bill, making it law.
Among other things, it requires teachers to inform parents if a student asks to change their name or pronouns in class.
Sharlee Hainesworth with local education organization, Action4Equity, said this could negatively impact relationships between students and teachers.
“If a child cannot go to school and be themselves without fear that their teacher is going to contact their parents and, you know, cause disruption in their life to that degree, then that erodes the trust that children need to have with educators," Hainesworth said.
An educator in the audience asked if the district would be providing any guidance about how to approach the new legislation ahead of the upcoming school year.
“We knew the override was coming. And we're schools full of teachers who don't know what to do," he said. "Does that mean I can't call Robert, Bob? Does that mean I can't call Sharise, Clark? And who's going to pay for that when we make that mistake and a parent was lying in wait for that mistake to happen?"
Forsyth County Association of Educators President Jenny Easter said she would be working with the district to address those concerns.
“We're going to stand firm and do our best to support our teachers and look for ways to plan with the school board and our superintendent to move around this as gracefully as we can," Easter said. "But also realize that our students deserve to be accepted. And they shouldn't feel scared to come to school and talk about themselves to their peers.”
Board of Education Member Richard Watts also said the board was working on a plan to help the district handle this change, but that it wouldn’t be ready by Aug. 28, when school starts.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.