(Photo : Unsplash/Nadine Shaabana)

Texas lawmakers are going to start their 88th legislative session on Tuesday. They are likely to discuss a bill that bans schools from teaching students in K-8 about issues that relates to sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill, similar to a bill passed by Florida lawmakers last year, called House Bill 631, introduced by Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), aims to broaden restriction on teaching specific curricula "by school personnel or third parties" for students from kindergarten to fifth grade and in a way that does not align with state standards for the age appropriateness and developmentally appropriate for students.

Texas Lawmakers Propose Bills to Increase Parental Involvement in Student Well-being and Health Decisions

According to Texas Capitol, HB 1155, authored by Republican Representative from Frisco, Jared Patterson, aims to extend the restriction until 8th grade. HB 1155 and HB 631 are among several bills lawmakers will discuss in the 88th Texas Legislature session, which starts on Tuesday. Additionally, they will also consider proposals such as property tax relief while there is a record $32 billion budget surplus.

Both Texas bills, according to Florida Government, are much like legislation signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, focus on the rights of parents and will mandate school districts to inform parents when school officials provide services that involve a student's mental, emotional, or physical health and welfare.

Furthermore, the Texas Education Agency is expected to review and revise guidelines for school counselors and educators in 2024, in line with these new bills. Both HB 1155 and HB 631 do not mention homosexuality directly, similar to its Florida counterparts.

HB 631 demands that any school district which conducts a well-being questionnaire or health screening for students between kindergarten and fifth grade provide a copy of the form and obtain parental consent before administering it.

HB 1155 goes even further by prohibiting any school district employee from discouraging or preventing parental knowledge or involvement in crucial decisions that affect a student's mental, emotional, or physical health and well-being.

Also Read: Jonesboro UMC Breaks Away From United Methodist Church Over Brewing Homosexuality Row

Hb1155 in Texas Sparks Debate Over Censorship and Inclusivity in Education

Representatives Patterson and Toth have yet to respond to The Christian Post's request for comment as of Tuesday afternoon. According to Christian Post, Patterson took to social media to express his perspective on the opposition to his legislation, HB1155. In a tweet, Patterson stated that the main arguments against his bill are that teachers cannot share information about their personal lives with students and that schools will not hide important health information about students from their parents.

Similar to the situation in Florida, progressive and LGBT activist groups in Texas have raised concerns about the potential harm caused by the language in the state's version of the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups have warned that the legislation could silence discussions about LGBT family members and friends of teachers and students.

Amy Turkel, the interim executive director of the ACLU of Florida, spoke out against the Florida law, stating that it is unconstitutional because it prevents discussions about the LGBT community in schools. She argued that "banning talk about parents serves no legitimate educational purpose and in fact, is detrimental to students. All young people deserve an inclusive and accurate education, free from censorship or discrimination."

On the other hand, the bill has been supported by the Florida Family Policy Council, which claims that opponents of the legislation are spreading false information about its contents.

Related Article: Traditionalist UMC Group Dissolves, Joins New Denomination as Fulfillment of Mission