HALL MONITOR: “YES” on Fiscal Accountability and Transparency in Wyoming Schools (HB 61)

Name: Wyoming House Bill 61, “Fiscal Accountability and Transparency in Education”

Summary: Would require schools to report expenditures and content of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and curriculums, political or social activism, or divisive social issues, and obtain parental consent before students participate in such programs or lessons. Additionally, school employees and students may not be compelled to use a student’s preferred pronoun if it is different from the student’s biological sex.

Status: HB 0061 was introduced January 24, 2024, but the House decided in February that it would not consider the bill for introduction 

Sponsors: Rep. Sarah Penn sponsored the bill. Rep. Ocean Andrew, Rep. John Bear, Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, Rep. Scott Heiner, Rep. Ben Hornok, Rep. Mark Jennings, Rep. Chip Neiman, Rep. Pepper Ottman, Rep. Ken Pendergraft, Rep. Tamara Trujillo, Rep. Jeanette Ward, Sen. Lynn Hutchings, and Sen. Dan Laursen cosponsored the bill.

Bill Breakdown: 

HB 61 would require transparency from schools regarding lessons focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, political or social activism, or divisive social issues. It would require schools to annually report to the state their spending on such programs and trainings.

The bill would also require schools to notify and obtain consent from parents before students participate in any such trainings, lessons, or programs. Employees would be allowed to opt out of any such trainings, lessons, or programs. Further, HB 61 would require schools to adopt policies to ensure that both school employees and students are not compelled to use a student’s preferred pronouns if the pronouns differ from the student’s biological sex. 

Why does PDE Action support this bill? 

Past diversity and inclusion efforts ensured colleagues treat each other with respect and dignity in the workplace. Unfortunately, such conversations have been hijacked. Now, employees—including many at public universities and K-12 schools—are taught to view and judge one another by their race or sex. Parents have the right to know if their children are being taught these divisive ideologies, and to opt their children out of such lessons if they wish.

The narrative of most DEI trainings today splits people into groups of “oppressors” or “oppressed” based on their race, sex, sexual orientation, or “gender identity.” When this type of thinking seeps into trainings for teachers, it trickles down to the classroom. This bill would allow parents to opt their children out from school-based promotions of political agendas and divisive ideologies.

This bill protects freedom of speech by ensuring that both employees are not compelled to use pronouns that differ from biological sex. This position aligns with precedent set in federal court regarding the use of preferred pronouns, namely, that government entities, including schools, may not compel speech. Unfortunately, many school districts across the United States have adopted anti-harassment policies that require students and staff to refer to others by preferred names and pronouns—even if those do not align with the person’s sex. Our partner organization, Parents Defending Education, recently secured a victory in the Eighth Circuit in protecting students from compelled speech regarding pronoun usage.