'Parents Bill of Rights' debated at Colorado capitol passed by Republican-led committee

DENVER - A law proposal for a "Parent's Bill of Rights" was up for a vote in a Colorado Senate Committee Thursday, and passed its first test. The bill looks to expand and outline parents' rights when it comes to their children's education and healthcare.

Senate Bill 77 is sponsored by father and son Republicans Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock.

"Me, as a father, and my wife love our kids more than anyone in this world, and we’re best fit to make those decisions for our children," said Neville. "Not a government official who’s never even met my children."

The bill says parents can pull a student out of class if they take issue with what is being taught, making special mention of sex education.

"In my mind, if a parent objects morally or for any reason to any curriculum in the school, they should definitely have the right to opt their children out of it," Neville said. 

The measure also mentions the controversial topic of immunizations, underscoring current Colorado law that allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids for medical, religious or personal beliefs by signing a waiver. 7NEWS asked if the bill would get rid of the waiver process.

"Yes, I mean, I would assume so," Neville said.

The measure would also mandate that parents authorize all medical decisions involving kids under 18, including counseling and mental healthcare.

Opponents argued at Thursday's Senate Education Committee hearing that the measure would prevent children being physically or sexually abused from getting help, especially if a parent was the abuser.

Colorado PTA has come out against the bill saying there are already current measures that allow parents to be involved in their children' s education.

"It's not necessary to have this additional layer," said Colorado PTA President Michelle Winzent. "We believe this had potential to send our public schools into chaos."

Winzent said the language could open schools up to lawsuits and that it could even impact something like students who bring weapons to school.

"Many schools say if a child brings a weapon to school they will be expelled from the school or potentially from the district," Winzent said. "This bill would make it so parents could go in and disagree with the punishment that’s given and that student could be let into that school again, which creates a definite safety concern."

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