• Senate Bill 49, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, would correct the current imbalance of authority between schools and parents, delineate parental rights, and end practices that limit parental decision-making
  • Among other things, the bill would prohibit instruction in gender identity, sexual activity, and sexuality in kindergarten through grade 4 curriculum and would require school personnel to inform parents about a change in a child’s preferred pronouns, which critics say would be harmful and could endanger students
  • Critics of S.B. 49 base their opposition to these provisions in the controversial concept of gender identity, which asserts that a person’s feelings about being male, female, or something else are what determines that person’s gender

The North Carolina Senate recently passed Senate Bill 49, the Parents’ Bill of Rights. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, the bill would help to correct the current imbalance of power between schools and parents across North Carolina.

S.B. 49 would delineate and affirm fundamental parental rights. Among them are the rights to direct the education and care of your child, direct your child’s upbringing and moral and religious training, and access and review all your child’s medical records and all education records used in the classroom.

The bill would also take substantive steps to halt actions that limit the decision-making authority of parents. For example, S.B. 49 would create a process for addressing parental requests for information and require schools to notify parents of all health care services offered by a child’s school, as well as the means to provide parental consent before their child could access any service.

As expected, the legislation has generated opposition. Opponents of S.B. 49 have generally focused their objections around two provisions. The first would require schools to share with parents all information about a child’s medical, health, or psychological condition. Critics fear the legislation would endanger children by informing parents who don’t approve of their child’s choice of gender or pronouns. The second states “instruction on gender identity, sexual activity or sexuality, shall not be included in the curriculum provided in grades kindergarten through fourth grade.”

Since these objections largely focus on the concept of gender identity, a review of gender identity is warranted.

What is gender identity?

Gender identity is a controversial concept that asserts a person’s feelings about being male, female, or something else are what determines that person’s gender.

Properly understood, gender identity exists completely apart from a person’s biological sex. It may be consistent with the person’s sex at birth — or not. Gender identity elevates a person’s subjective feelings over the objective, biological reality of sex. If a man feels or identifies as a woman, then according to gender identity, that is what he is. Proponents of gender identity believe gender is not determined by biological realities, but by how a person chooses to identify, whether as a boy, girl, or something else.

Advocates of gender identity believe certain dimensions of life, such as gender identity and gender expression, are independent of, not aligned with, biology. As such, individuals may have a gender based on biological sex and another gender based on identity. Some characteristics may even change over time. Proponents of gender identity believe biological sex is on a spectrum and that people can be more or less male or female.

Gender identity conflicts head-on with the scientific reality that persons have a sexual identity based on biological sex. It’s a fact that is difficult to square with gender identity advocates. The fact is, every newborn is either a boy or a girl.

Every person is either male or female. That’s a biological reality. While there may be some differences with regard to strength and other physical attributes, males and females largely have the same bodily systems (e.g., respiratory, circulatory, central nervous system, etc.). The only system that is substantially different between men and women is the reproductive system. Biology organizes humans as either male or female. That difference derives from differences in respect to sexual reproduction and the reproductive system.

Ryan Anderson of The Ethics and Public Policy Center and Robert George of Princeton University reiterate once again the scientific realities that gender identity must confront. They write:

The sexual binary is a biological reality. There is no scientific—indeed, no non-ideological—ground for denying it. That some people experience disorders of sexual development, sometimes referred to as intersex conditions, does not negate this reality. Disorders of sexual development do not constitute a third sex or a spectrum of sex. There is no third gamete, no third gonad, no third genital, no third reproductive system. Nor is there a “spectrum” between the two reproductive systems, despite the reality that these two systems can and sometimes do develop in certain disordered ways . . . It is a red herring to point to physical developmental disorders to justify an ideological view of gender as something fluid, non-binary, and utterly detached from our embodiment as male or female.1

Part 2 of this article will discuss how these developments spilled into our schools, the problems associated with gender identity treatment, and policy options going forward.


  1. Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George, “Physical Interventions on the Bodies of Children to ‘Affirm’ their ‘Gender Identity’ Violate Medical Ethics and Should be Prohibited,” Public Discourse, December 2019.