On Monday, July 11, New Mexico House Republican Caucus released a form they intend to send to all New Mexico parents with children in school. The Republican caucus is asking parents to send the form to the schools to affirm their rights as parents to have a say in medical services, including abortion and gender-affirming care, and what instructional materials their children can receive while at school.
The form, which parents can sign and send to their students’ schools, offers an opportunity to lay out the types of information and health care services they want school personnel to tell them about before providing it to their children. The Republican House caucus said the form comes in response to bills passed during the 2023 legislative session year and they argue the legislation limits parents’ involvement in such decisions.
Silver City area Republican Rep. Luis Terrazas said hehopes school districts will honor parents requests. Terrazas said this:
“These bills cut at the very fabric of the family unit, and undermine [parental] rights when it comes to their children.”
House Bill 7 is The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act. This law Prohibits public bodies, including local municipalities, from denying, restricting, or discriminating against an individual’s right to use or refuse reproductive health care or health care related to gender.
Senate Bill 397 bill enshrines school-based health centers in state law.
REPUBLICAN CAUCUS LETTER
The letter sent to parents of school age children reads as follows:
New Mexico laws passed during the 2023 session (HB 7 and SB 397) could restrict both parental involvement regarding certain types of medical services and instructional materials provided to minors during the school day, regardless of age. Medical services include “gender affirming care,” psychiatric care, and abortion services.
The following form is designed to help parents and guardians explicitly exercise their right to be fully informed prior to their child accessing medical and behavioral health services, including some instructional materials. HB7 and SB397 can be found by clicking the links below.
Parents and guardians are responsible for making educational and health care decisions for their children until the child reaches the age of majority. A minor child cannot consent to his/her own educational decisions or medical treatment. It is important for parents/guardians to remain engaged and informed with school district staff to ensure their children are receiving the appropriate education and health care.
Parent/guardian engagement ensures the highest standard of care.
Attached is the PARENTAL/GUARDIAN NOTIFICATION AND CONSENT SCHOOL FORM.
1. Carefully read and mark each check box for which you are requiring notification before your child participates in activities that might be occurring on the school campus.
2. Sign the notification form.
3. Make two copies of the signed form.
4. Keep one copy for your personal records.
5. Email one copy to your child’s school admin office, requesting that a copy be placed in your child’s permanent record with the school district.
Please note that current New Mexico law, NMSA 32A-6A-15, provides for a child 14 years of age or older to consent to certain behavioral and family therapy and counseling programs. 32A-6A-15(C) also states that “A clinician or other mental health and developmental disabilities professional shall promote the healthy involvement of a child’s legal custodians and family members in developing the child’s treatment plan, including appropriate treatment for children fourteen years of age or older.
NM House Republican Leadership
PARENTAL/GUARDIAN NOTIFICATION AND CONSENT SCHOOL FORM
Below is the Parental/Guardian Notification and Consent School Form prepared by the Republican Caucus and sent to parents:
NEW MEXICO PARENTAL/GUARDIAN NOTIFICATION AND CONSENT SCHOOL FORM
I/We, __________________________________ the legal parent(s)/guardian(s) of,
__________________________________________________________: (Check all that apply.)
[ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity, assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association concerning transgender ideology, gender affirming care or gender identity.
[ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity,assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association concerning abortion.
[ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity, assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association concerning contraception and other family planning.
[ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, or association concerning primary health care.
[ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, or association concerning mental or psychiatric care.
If I am not given prior notification and the opportunity to make an informed decision concerning the wellbeing of my child, I withhold consent for the items checked above.
___________________________ ___________________________ ____________________
Printed Name Signature Date
___________________________ ___________________________ ____________________
Printed Name Signature Date
Please also note that any parental notification does not prevent the mandatory disclosure of certain circumstances to law enforcement or the Children, Youth, and Families Department as required by law.
The form is available on the New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee website:
HOUSE BILL 7 REPRODUCTIVE AND GENDER-AFFIRMING HEALTH CARE ACT MAIN TARGET
Republican State Representative Luis Terrazas, who represents Catron, Grant and Hidalgo counties, confirmed that the main target of the letter and the form is House Bill 7 which is the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act. Terrazas pointed out that House Bill 7 states:
“A public body or agent of a public body shall not discriminate against a person based on that person’s use of or refusal to use reproductive health care services or gender-affirming health care.”
According to Republican House members, House Bill 7 is unclear when it comes to parental notification and the law never mentions parents or parental rights when it comes to knowing what is taught in schools. The letter says parents need to be notified when certain topics are discussed in class, such as abortion, gender identity, mental health care, or contraception.
Terrazas said this:
“This simple form … is a parental notification and consent form that is free for you to download and print. … It asks school districts to keep parents informed on the curriculum, class discussions, and decisions that impact their child’s health care. … I recognize that there are some schools and districts that have policies that do not require notification … This letter and form released today makes it clear that those who wish to participate that parents’ rights are paramount and need to be respected, even if local policy says otherwise.”
During the press conference announcing the form letter, Republican Representative Terrazas was asked where he sees an effort to conceal medical services or instructional materials provided to students from their parents in the language of the bills. Terrazas was not able to point to any specific language, saying the form mainly seeks to let parents be explicit about their wishes. He said this:
“There hasn’t been any clarity. And so this form, that’s exactly what it does … It just gives a parent the right look over the form, decide what they want to participate or not participate and submit it … so that we get a clear directive of what they’re comfortable or not comfortable with. … Even if these issues weren’t ambiguous in the law, why is it a problem for parents to ask to be notified about what their children are being presented in the classroom?”
HB 7 sponsor Democrat Rep. Linda Serrato of Santa Fe said neither bill mentions any sort of confidentiality from guardians nor makes a specific provision allowing school personnel to speak with children about things such as abortion services or gender-affirming care without parental approval.
“HB 7 doesn’t touch on that at all, to be quite frank. … It simply says that you can get gender-affirming and reproductive health care and that they can’t persecute you or prosecute you.”
According to Serrato, the closest either bill comes to confidentiality from parents or guardians is in HB 7, which states that public bodies or people working on their behalf cannot deny, restrict or interfere with someone’s access to such services. She noted that even that language “doesn’t broach” interfering with parents’ involvement and she said this:
“It feels to me … like more of what you’d see out of Florida than out of New Mexico, because it just feels like a way to get attention that could actually really hurt people. … It definitely misleads individuals on what this bill does.”
Rep. Linda Serrato issued the following statement:
“This is nothing more than a political stunt. At best, these letters will create confusion for parents about what their kids are learning and concern for teachers about what they are allowed to teach. At worst, these letters have the potential to pit parents and teachers against each other, when we all should be working together in the interest of our kids – not standing in the way of their ability to get healthcare.
It’s also important to note, that HB 7 has absolutely nothing to do with school curriculum. It simply ensures that no matter where you are in New Mexico, you will not be discriminated against, prosecuted or persecuted for receiving the healthcare you need, including reproductive, abortion, or gender-affirming care.”
Albuquerque Public Schools do not provide heath care to their students, and leave all health care decisions up to parents. APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta told the Albuquerque Journal that APS does not provide the medical care or education the House Republicans are targeting in their letter. Armenta said it’s too soon to tell how the forms would be treated by APS but she did point to a district policy calling for provisions to be made “for review of student or parent objections to presentations or to print or multimedia instructional materials” about controversial or sensitive issues.
Links to quoted news sources are here:
TARGETS FOR REPEAL BY REFERENDUM
The New Mexico Republican Party is working with three conservative organizations and a petition drive and referendum process to repeal the legislation. Those 3 organizations are the New Mexico Family Action Movement, the “Better Together New Mexico” and the “New Mexico Business Coaltion”.
The 6 laws targeted for repeal took effect on June 16, including the bill barring discrimination against individuals seeking abortion services and a separate bill shielding nurses and doctors who provide abortions from criminal investigation. The 6 bills targeted for repeal by petition drive referendum are:
House Bill 7: Prohibit public bodies from blocking access to abortion services and gender-affirming care.
Senate Bill 13: Shield doctors and nurses who provide abortion services and gender-affirming care from civil or criminal legal liability.
Senate Bill 397: Enshrine school-based health centers in state law.
House Bill 207: Expand scope of state’s Human Rights Act to cover gender identity.
House Bill 4: Change voting laws by expanding automatic voter registration and establishing permanent absentee voter list.
Senate Bill 180: Update state’s election laws by establishing mandatory training for poll watchers and clarifying process for updating voter rolls.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the six bills in question into law. She also defended the six bills, saying they were passed by duly elected lawmakers to benefit state residents. The Governor’s spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney said this:
“Gov. Lujan Grisham signed these six bills because she knows, unequivocally, they will do good for thousands of New Mexicans so they can have healthy, productive lives, and participate fully in their communities as their true selves.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The action of the New Mexico House Republican Caucus in sending out their letter and form is a clear case of “False Forms Over Substance”. Both should be treated as nothing more than a publicity stunt that should be ignored by all the school districts in the state. The letter and the so called Parental Consent Form is yet another example of the extreme lengths the Republican Party and extreme right wing organizations will go to oppose Democrat initiatives and interfere with the legislative process.
It is painfully obvious that when Republicans are not successful at the ballot box, are not successful in the legislative process, they revert to the courts, petition drives and publicity stunts such sending letters and forms to parents of school age children to make false claims and gin up animosity. The problem with this latest Republican publicity stunt is that it is an attempt to interfere with public education by creating animosity between parents and the school systems. The Republican Caucus Parental/Guardian Notification and Consent School Form needs to be given an “F” by all educators.