ND lawmakers consider codifying parents’ rights

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 8:39 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Some conservative parents believe they should play a bigger role in their children’s education. Now, they’re hoping North Dakota lawmakers will pass a handful of bills that they say would prioritize parents’ interests.

Children: the most important part of most parents’ lives.

”I believe it’s important to guard the fundamental rights of parents to care for their children and to keep them from harmful information that they’re not developmentally ready to be exposed to,” said Patricia Leno from North Dakota.

That’s why Representative Cole Christensen introduced House Bill 1362 — a bill that would codify a parent’s right to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their child.

”I believe that the family is the backbone of society, and if we want to have a strong nation, we have to have a strong family. And parents need to have their rights protected,” said Representative Cole Christensen, R-Rogers.

Another bill, House Bill 1403, would entitle parents to compensation if they enter into a lawsuit with a government entity concerning their children and win.

”This bill would protect the parents in our state by ensuring the fundamental rights are protected. And if infringed, are allowed to appropriate relief,” said Representative Matt Heilman, R-District 7.

But House Bills 1362 and 1403 have raised some concerns — especially the educational bits of them.

”Teachers have no idea what may trigger a parent into believing the parent’s rights, as described in this bill, have been violated. Even if the parent’s claim is not compelling, is dismissed by the court, and the school district gets reimbursed for the services of their attorneys, the relationship between that teacher and student may be irretrievably damaged,” said Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United.

Last week, on a near-party line vote, the House passed a bill that would ban children from attending drag shows in North Dakota. Coincidentally, House Minority Leader Josh Boschee noted that bill took power away from parents.

”In fact, I think it’s the parent who has the best interest of their children in mind, and so, I would hope we leave this up to parents,” said Representative Boschee, D-Fargo on January 26th, pertaining to House Bill 1333.

Representative Christensen doesn’t believe his bill and the drag show bill are in conflict with one another.

”There’s a lot of things that the state sets up guidelines in an effort to aid parents and to establish guidelines for the benefit of society,” said Representative Christensen.

Representative Boschee couldn’t be reached for comment on the parental control bills.

The House Human Services Committee didn’t take action on either of the bills heard on Monday.

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