TOPEKA (KSNT)— Kansas lawmakers have sent a bill allowing parents to object to certain educational materials to the governor’s desk for approval.
The Kansas House voted 76-46 to pass House Bill 2236. This establishes the parents’ right to direct the education, upbringing and moral or religious training of their children including the right to object to harmful and inappropriate educational materials. The Senate voted 23-17 to pass the bill with amendments last week.
Some Democrats and Republicans, arguing against the bill, said that it was unnecessary, given current protections that are in place.
“This protection already exists in the United States Constitution… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” said Representative Silas Miller, D- Wichita. “You already have the right to have a moral objection to something that your students are learning. Writing laws that protect moral or religious exemptions… it’s going to go to broad.”
However Rep. Susan Estes, a Republican from Wichita who carried the bill, said there is a reason to have the measure in place. She argued that the issue is not addressed in the education section of the state’s constitution.
“When I as a parent and have had objections and gone to the teachers of my children, they’ve been happy to give us an alternative assignment, but what we heard in committee were parents who not only went to their teacher… they went to their principal and higher up in the school district… and did not have their concerns addressed and did not have alternative assignments that could be offered,” Estes said. “If there is one family who are denied their rights, we need to address it.”
According to Estes, the bill only applies to the officially adopted curriculum in the district.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has a few weeks to decide whether to veto the bill before veto session kicks off on April 26.
If the governor vetoes the bill, the House would need 84 votes to override the veto; the Senate would need 27 votes to override.