On March 8th, 2023 the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held its first full committee markup on H.R. 734, the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023, and H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act. Ranking Member Bobby Scott [D-VA] opened the markup by explaining his opposition: “Neither of the bills before us today addresses the real challenges facing students, parents, and educators.” The bills do not address challenges that schools face: falling test scores, widening achievement gaps, inadequate mental health services, and limited wrap-around services.
The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 would create additional barriers for transgender athletes and youth from participating in sports. Scott argues that “It is ludicrous to suggest that such a handful of athletes—who pose no evidentiary threat—justifies national Congressional action.” H.R. 734 unfairly places blame on transgender youth for inequality in sports when unequal pay, sexual abuse, and lack of funding are greater threats.
While House Democrats believe in the importance of parental engagement for promoting student success, they oppose H.R. 5 because it puts politics over people. Rather than meaningfully supporting parent engagement, the bill gives power to a few parents to impose their political beliefs on all students and parents. The Cato Institute has come out against this bill because it “suffers from a fundamental flaw: It is not constitutional. Even if unconstitutional, it would not give parents real power.” In addition to not actually expanding parent’s freedom, the bill poses further reporting requirements that would divert schools from providing essential services.
Congressional Democrats offered amendments to promote participation in school sports, improve parental engagement, and establish that all children receive an inclusive and accurate education. No Republicans voted in favor of them.
By Ava Cloghessy, Policy Intern