A bill passed the GOP-controlled state Senate to require Pennsylvania parents to opt in their children to access book deemed sexually explicit after more than an hour of passionate floor debate Tuesday.
The bill passed 29-21, with objection from most Democrats. It now goes onto the Democrat-controlled House, where it faces an uncertain future. The bill passed the chamber, along with another that regulated how teachers communicate with parents about curricula, and drew opposition from the state’s largest teachers union.
The move is part of a larger nationwide effort of expanding parental oversight of schools, which saw a swell of energy in Florida last year. In the months since, other state Legislatures have taken up similar legislation that opponents say specifically targets LGBTQ+ and students of color.
In Pennsylvania, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Ryan Aument of Lancaster County, said the bill was a “very measured approach to addressing what was rapidly becoming a contentious national issue.” He rejected that it was an attempt to ban books, attack the LGBTQ+ community or censor anyone.
One Democrat, Sen. Lisa Boscola of Northampton County, agreed, saying policies like this draw heated, vocal support on both sides of the issue.
“It’s tearing our communities apart,” she said. “That’s why this General Assembly needs to lead. It needs to set forth a statewide policy that balances those radically different viewpoints of parents on both sides of this issue.”