News & Observer Continues Campaign Against Parents’ Bill of Rights

May 31, 2022

Last week, N&O reporter falsely claimed bill would “ban teachers in K-3 from talking about gender or sexuality”

Today, N&O ran a story with unrebutted (and false) implications the bill would “out” gay people

Reality: Bill requires parental notification if students present in school with gender dysphoria, a diagnosed medical condition

The News & Observer appears to be doing all it can to muddy, rather than objectively report on, the proposed Parents’ of Bill Rights under consideration in the North Carolina Senate.

A story published today included unrebutted (and false) implications that the bill would “out students against their will.” In describing a Raleigh pastor who spoke against the bill, The News & Observer reported, “Haywood said he was forced out of the closet himself, and he strongly opposes any legislation that would require school employees all around the state to do the same to their LGBTQ students.”

But nothing in the bill “outs” gay students. Aside from prohibiting instruction on sexuality for five-year-olds, the bill is completely silent on homosexuality. But the News & Observer declined to report this.

Far from “outing” gay kids, the bill requires parental notification if students present with symptoms of a medical condition called gender dysphoria, in which a child displays “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” The American Psychiatric Association even states, “Gender identity is different from sexual orientation.” Should schools really withhold from parents information about the medical condition of their own children?

A fair and objective report on the bill would note this distinction. But the News & Observer chose, at best, to falsely imply the bill would “out” gay kids.

And this isn’t even the first time the News & Observer has misled its readers. Last week, a News & Observer reporter falsely claimed the Parents’ Bill of Rights would “ban teachers in K-3 from talking about gender or sexuality,” just moments after Senate Leader Phil Berger said in a press conference (according to a WRAL paraphrase) that the bill is “not intended to ban discussions that come up organically in class.”

The bill prohibits sexual or gender identity instruction from K-3 curriculum, but it does not forbid teachers from, say, answering a question from a student who raises her hand. In general, the bill empowers parents and keeps schools accountable. We think schools should stick to educating, not parenting.