Connecticut GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Bob Stefanowski Announces ‘Parental Bill of Rights’

Connecticut Republican candidate for governor Bob Stefanowski announced a “Parental Bill of Rights” that seeks to empower the state’s parents to make education and healthcare decisions for their children.

“During the last several years, the pendulum has swung too far against the rights of parents and their ability to make critical decisions for their children in terms of education, healthcare, and the teaching of moral values they hold dear,” Stefanowski said Tuesday. “As Governor, I am going to reverse that trend and restore parental rights in a significant and meaningful way.”

Stefanowski and his running mate, State Representative Laura Devlin (R-Plattsville), say the Parental Bill of Rights focuses on three areas: empowering parents, quality education, and safe and healthy schools.

Empowering Parents

The bill calls for letting families, rather than school districts, decide when and how to discuss sexuality issues with young children:

We should absolutely promote diversity and acceptance in our schools, but at the same time we should not be teaching age-inappropriate sex-ed curriculum to children not old enough to reliably tie their own shoes.

According to the state guidelines for the Sexual Health Education Component of Comprehensive Health Education, children in Grade 4 are expected to “describe different ways in which people express their gender (e.g., dress, play, choice of jobs), and, by Grade 8, students in Connecticut should be able to “differentiate between gender identity, sexual orientation, and the concept of gender roles.”

The Parental Bill of Rights also calls for a restoration of parental choice over healthcare decisions for children.

While Stefanowski states “there are times when government mandates may be necessary,” he also asserts “government decision-making based on politics vs. science makes for bad public policy and distrust”:

We support science-based decision making and we both believe in the efficacy and safety of vaccines, but we don’t believe that parents should be forced by the government to vaccinate or mask their children without any recourse to object.

Stefanowski’s bill would also raise the age of parental consent for social media access and require social media platforms to delete a child’s account if desired by the parents:

Social media companies are allowed a 24/7 opportunity to impact our children, many of whom are addicted to social media and its many negative influences. Parents deserve every recourse available when trying to protect their children. We will raise the age requiring parental consent in Connecticut from 13 to 16 and give parents more power to control what their children consume online.

Quality Education

The Parental Bill of Rights calls for school choice and expansion of access to various education settings regardless of where students live:

Parents should have options to choose the best education for their children, and no child should have their educational opportunity limited by their zip code. We support funding for public education and believe every child should have the opportunity for a top-rate education in our state. To remedy that, we will join the vast majority of other states in America who aim to provide parents and their children trapped in underperforming public school systems with vouchers and education savings accounts for better educational choices.

Stefanowski is also calling for an increase in tutoring programs to help students who suffered learning loss during the pandemic school lockdowns:

CT Department of Education data from last year shows that student achievement is still lagging pre-pandemic levels. Despite over 500,000 K-12 students statewide and a $5 billion surplus, the state only made a small fraction available for summer school this year to help kids catch up before this school year began. We will initiate a coordinated statewide effort to identify students who have fallen behind during the pandemic and provide the resources to help them catch up to their peers and get back on track.

Safe and Healthy Schools

Stefanowski’s Parental Bill of Rights calls for using the state’s $5 billion surplus to strengthen school security:

No price tag is too high when it comes to protecting our children from harm. That job is school-wide and begins as a student gets on the bus or starts their walk to school. Our proposal would provide grant funding for every public school system to better fortify their building security and enable the hiring of public safety professionals to provide the protections needed for every school in the state.

The Republican candidates also urge “a timely improvement state wide in school air quality”:

The dangerous and unhealthy air quality in a majority of our schools is an outrage. Our children and staff’s health hang in the balance and we will demand information starting on day one to mitigate this statewide issue.

Stefanowski asserts allowing biological males to compete against females in high school sports also presents a safety issue:

Allowing transgender biological males to compete against biological females is inherently unfair to female student-athletes and, moreover, is physically unsafe.

The Republican proposes working with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to change the current policy, but says he will approach the state legislature if the Conference fails to cooperate with his efforts.

Connecticut Democrats tweeted their reaction to Stefanowski’s proposed parental rights bill by calling the GOP candidate “beyond extreme and wrong for CT kids.”

“Bob Stefanowski thinks you ‘return power’ to parents by banning common sense health requirements, dictating curriculum to local schools, and demonizing trans kids by claiming they jeopardize the physical safety of all students,” the state’s Democrat Party accused.

Jake Lewis, a spokesman for Governor Ned Lamont’s (D) re-election campaign, responded to Stefanowski’s Parental Bill of Rights with a statement defending the state’s teachers.

“Connecticut has the best schools in the nation because we have the best teachers in the nation,” Lewis said, according to Hearst media. “Governor Lamont knows we have achieved that because our teachers and schools work together with the community and families they serve.”

Lamont himself responded to Stefanowski’s comments stating his Republican challenger was using young people for the purpose of politics.

“When it comes to transgender young people, kids, keep the politicians out of it,” Lamont said. “Two months before Election Day, we don’t need to make a lot of political hay at the expense of these young people.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Bob Stefanowski” by Bob Stefanowski. 




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