FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2016
Contact: Troy Stevenson
Executive Director – Freedom Oklahoma
firstname.lastname@example.org | (405) 802-8229
Oklahoma City – In an unusual move, the House Common Education Committee will hold a special meeting at 3 PM today and at the top of the agenda will be HB 3044. This bill is extremely concerning to educators and advocates because it removes the discretion of school counselors and teachers when dealing with vulnerable and at-risk youth.
Freedom Oklahoma will be at the Capitol from 2 PM with school councilors, social workers, teachers, and concerned parents to take questions from the media before and after the committee hearing.
The text of the bill states:
“No counselor, therapist, social worker, administrator, teacher or other individual who provides counseling, guidance or instructional services for a public school, public school district or technology center school district may refer a student under the age of eighteen (18) years to, nor provide the contact information, business card, brochure or other informational materials of, an individual, organization or entity not employed by or under the direct control of the school district in which that student is enrolled if the referral or information provided pertain to human sexuality without notifying the parents or legal guardians of the student either by email, personal phone call or text message at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to making the referral or providing the information.”
This means that a school counselor can not even give a student struggling with suicidal thoughts – or at risk of self-harm – the phone number for the national suicide prevention hotline without informing their parents, even in cases where the parent may be the catalyst of the harm. It also forces counselors and social workers to violate the ethics of their profession by either breaching the confidence of a youth or being barred from offering support and resources.
The following statement can be attributed to Freedom Oklahoma executive director, Troy Stevenson:
“It is exceptionally irresponsible for legislators to use school children as props in the politics of distraction on display in this legislative session. This bill will literally put the lives of students at risk. It is vital that parents be informed about dangers to their children, unless the parent themselves is the danger. In those cases the protection of our youth must be paramount. This legislation removes the ability of educators to protect students in their charge, and it must not become law.”