July 12, 2023

GOP release ‘parental consent’ form

Santa Fe Roundhouse

Nicole Maxwell/New Mexico Political Report

Santa Fe Roundhouse

On Monday the New Mexico House Republicans announced that they have a form available for interested parents or guardians.

The Parental Notification and Consent form gives interested parents/guardians a way to opt their student out of certain curricula.

The form asks that a parent or guardian “require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to any health care services, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity, assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association concerning” LGBTQIA+, abortion, contraception and family planning.

It also requires primary notification before the child “participates in, or be given access to” any health care services, referral for services, or association concerning primary health care or mental or psychiatric care.

“If I am not given prior notification and the ability to make an informed decision concerning the wellbeing of my child, I withhold consent for the items checked above,” the form closes.

House Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski, D-Santa Fe, a parent herself, said that she thinks the form will “sow confusion among parents, students and teachers,” Szczepanski told the NM Political Report.

Szczepanki sponsored HB 7 which protects access to reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare services. It did not change how teachers communicate with students’ parents or guardians nor did it change how health providers communicate with students and their parents or guardians, she said.

“I find it to be, sort of, a confusing tactic that I don’t think is needed. I mean, I’m a parent myself and, you know, I think it’s really important for parents and teachers to have great communication and I think that that is what happens,” Szczepanski said. “I think the legislation did nothing to alter the way that parents and teachers communicate and I think this is a false effort to make it seem that way, to make it seem as if the laws changed something about the fundamental nature of that communication, and they did not.”

The form comes after the 2023 legislative session saw several bills passed that the House Republican Caucus saw as detrimental to parental involvement with children’s schooling.

“The core issue here is the rollback of parental involvement by this government, the same government that has failed so many children at CYFD and continues to reign worst in the country for child welfare,” state Rep. Luis Terrazas, R-Silver City, said in a news release. “Ask any parent— their entire lives revolve around their children. You simply cannot replace a parent or guardian with a government employee or policy. This simple one-page form gives parents back their voice that has been severely undercut in the recent months. People across this state have been calling for action, and we are delivering a commonsense option for parents to remain informed and push back against this violation of their rights.”

HB 7 is one of six laws that have drawn the ire of New Mexican Republicans and activists. The other laws are SB 13 which shields medical providers who provide abortion healthcare services and their patients from civil or criminal legal liability, SB 397 which codifies school-based health centers, HB 207 which expands the state Human Rights Act to include gender identity, HB 4 which expands voter rights protections included, but were not limited to, automatic voter registration, restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated felons and established the Native American Voting Rights Act and SB 180 which made changes to the state’s election code.