Arizona Governor Signs Parental Rights Bill

Sahana Donepudi

Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed legislation that greatly expands the rights of parents to know anything their children tell a teacher or school counselor, the latest effort to promote parental rights ahead of the 2022 election. The measure, which passed the GOP-controlled Legislature in party-line votes, also allows parents to sue school districts or officials if information is withheld.

Democrats said the measure will put children at risk and keep young people from confiding in trusted adults.“Once they realize that anything they tell a counselor or a teacher is going to go to their parents, some of them, potentially a lot of them, will just simply stop talking,” Sen. Christine Marsh of Phoenix said during a recent Senate debate. “They are no longer going to have that trusted adult to confide in.” The bill requires teachers and school counselors to tell a student’s parents anything the child discloses in confidence. That includes anything relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the child. It requires schools to allow access to all educational records and to a counselor’s notes. Ducey, a Republican, signed the measure without comment. It comes amid a growing push in GOP-controlled states to emphasize parental rights, which is seen as an issue in this year’s midterm elections.