State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) this week announced he plans to introduce a bill banning the subjection of K-12 students to any “sexually explicit, obscene [or] racist principles.”
In a memorandum describing his upcoming bill, the senator voiced alarm at parents, students, and school staff, alerting the public to certain materials and themes they feel do not serve educational purposes. He first mentioned “racist concepts,” a reference to Critical Race Theory (CRT), an idea suggesting that history should be taught from a perspective of ethnic politics.
While progressives sometimes argue that public schools in Pennsylvania don’t teach CRT, numerous instances have become apparent. Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute reported, for instance, that elementary school students in Philadelphia were instructed to laud “Black communism” and to simulate a “Black Power” demonstration.
Mastriano, now running for governor against Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, also took issue with “conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity, and sexually explicit content in school settings.” Such materials were the target of a policy recently passed by the Central Bucks School Board in the state’s southeast. Many parents urged the district to enact such restrictions, though leftist organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania strongly opposed them.
Mastriano suggested parents have been particularly incensed about “overly intrusive surveys distributed to students without parental knowledge” that concern students’ gender and sexual identities. He lamented that teachers often tell children they should not tell parents that they are receiving these questionnaires.
“Schools should be a place for engaging in academic discussions and creating citizens capable of self-governance,” the senator wrote. “They are not the place to engage in politically divisive concepts that impart personal beliefs on impressionable young minds. It is time we get back to the basics [in] education and focus on ensuring the next generation of leaders has the tools necessary for success, not political ideologies aimed at corrupting our youth.”
Other Keystone State legislators have taken up piecemeal measures to restrict the kind of conversations and texts about which Mastriano is concerned. State Representative Barbara Gleim (R-Carlisle) sponsored a bill in March to bar teachers from indoctrinating students with racial politics. Some of Mastriano’s Republican Senate colleagues have offered legislation to limit the display of sexually explicit materials.
None of these efforts stand a chance of enactment for the remainder of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s tenure. He is retiring after this year, being permitted to serve only two terms.
If Mastriano is not elected in November, the restrictions he favors will continue to face impossible odds. The Republican is trailing Shapiro in every poll that has come out during the campaign.
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