Parental rights bill has been signed into law

Some are still worried about potential impact of bill

By: - June 23, 2023 7:01 am
Blue school hallway lockers and checkered tile in high school students in the background

Blue lockers seen in a school hallway. (Getty)

Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law on June 16 a bill that adds parental rights to Alabama statute. 

HB 6, sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Paschal, R-Pelham, says that “the government may not burden certain fundamental rights of parents.”

Paschal sent over an email that included a graphic that shows the proponents and contributors to the bill, and outlined why the parental rights bill is needed and what it will accomplish.

“So this bill, you simply take what exists from 100 years and just put it in the black and white of Alabama code,” he said in a Thursday afternoon phone interview.

Jeff Walker, the father of a 16-year-old transgender girl who recently testified before the U.S. Senate said the bill could undermine his rights as a parent. He is concerned about a provision of the bill allowing the state to intervene if there is a “compelling state interest.”

“Because anytime the state deems what you’re doing as a parent counters what the state would like you to be doing, all they have to do is reference this law,” he said. 

Paschal said the state’s interest is based on existing case law and recommends people confused by the term to read more case law. He referred to beating children as something that would allow the state to become involved.

Ahead of the legislative session, Paschal told the Alabama Reflector that the bill would not have any impact on any current laws on the book and would just codify fundamental parental rights.

“We have a current law that requires the Department of Human Resources to address, to intervene, when a child is being abused or neglected,” he said at the time, “This bill will not change that law, will not change any other law that’s currently on the books.”

Paschal said Thursday that the bill will codify case law, which the legislature has not done yet.

When asked about the bill potentially not changing anything, Walker then questioned why the bill was filed.

“Why are we wasting our time as a legislative body, writing it, debating it and putting it through the system,” he said. “Right. That makes absolutely no sense to me that we, that the state believes that’s what we should spend our time on.”

When asked what the legislature could have done this year to help him as a parent, Walker said that he wished the legislature would stop targeting his daughter as a member of the LGBTQ community and wondered how the budget could better be spent.

“I don’t think we’re really getting our money’s worth out of our state government, and it’s sad,” he said.

Cardelia Howell-Diamond, the parent to two transgender children, said that she wants to believe that the legislation is designed to help all children, but she thinks it will harm the parents of LGBTQ+ and “multicultural” kids due to the “state interest” provision.

Howell-Diamond has contacted politicians at both the state and national level. She doesn’t feel represented by her politicians.

“Remembering that my trans kids were also citizens of the state, and that we have families who are supportive of our trans students are citizens of the state who pay taxes and look for its welfare, and reminded them that this doesn’t bode well for the economy of Alabama,” she said.

She wished lawmakers focused more on things that harmed children in the state, like mental health or guns.

“There are really happy healthy trans kids out there because their families support them and love them, who are huge success stories, and if they want to meet one, I’ve got an excellent one starting college in the fall, and a fabulous one starting 10th grade, and we invite them to our table anytime,” she said. 

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Jemma Stephenson
Jemma Stephenson

Jemma Stephenson covers education as a reporter for the Alabama Reflector. She previously worked at the Montgomery Advertiser and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.