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Community pleads for Asheville City Schools to not adopt Parents’ Bill of Rights

<i></i><br/>Residents of an Asheville
Lawrence, Nakia

Residents of an Asheville

By Ed DiOrio

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Asheville City Schools is continuing to try to figure out its version of the Parents Bill of Rights at Monday night’s work session.

The same legislation bans kindergarten through fourth-grade teachers from using material related to sexuality and gender identity in schools.

“We should treat queer people how we want to be treated. That’s the golden rule. Don’t take power from kids, and don’t pass this foul rule,” Henry, a first-grader in the school district, said.

He wasn’t alone in advocating for the Bill of Rights to not make its way into ACS.

“As a teacher, this legislation is awful,” Montford North Star Academy teacher Matthew Leggat said.

“These policies would degrade the education of all students in pre-K through fourth grade,” Henry’s mother, Christina Mason, said.

“A big part of my elementary school experience was being educated about gender and sexuality,” Colette Russ said.

As of the first week of February, Asheville City Schools is one of a few North Carolina school districts yet to approve and implement the terms of Senate Bill 49, also known as the “don’t say gay” law.

“We have gone through these policies literally word by word,” ACS Board of Education Vice Chair Amy Ray said. “We’ve modified those recommendations in ways we think will be helpful to students and parents affected by this bill.”

And, to the board’s knowledge, SB 49’s language is not being practiced already.

“No one in Asheville City Schools, as I understand it, is pulling books out of any classrooms,” Ray said.

However, the law has been confusing for students and staff.

“I have kids that want to be called by different pronouns,” Leggat said. “I’m being told I can’t. I have to go to other people. I might have to oust them to their parents. I don’t feel that this legislation lets people know that we love them.”

While some in the community acknowledge and appreciate the schools trying to best adopt the Bill of Rights, some are still calling for it not to become a reality at all.

“My child, Henry, he has the right to a complete education, not just a straight education,” Mason said. “We can do better.”

The next time the board will discuss the matter and make final adjustments is at the Feb. 12 meeting. That is where all terms of the Parents’ Bill of Rights could be finalized and approved to bring school policies into compliance with state law.

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