Navigating the public school system today has become a complex and politically-charged game, and many parents feel powerless against a colossal education bureaucracy. Now more than ever, it is critical that parents are aware of their rights.
Since the 1920s, the United States Supreme Court held that parents have the right to direct the education of their children. In so holding, the Court emphasized that “The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (emphasis added).
Yet today, unelected bureaucrats are crafting policies that deliberately undermine parental rights.
The Biden administration’s proposed changes to Title IX, for example, not only empower schools to indoctrinate kids on issues of sex and gender without parental consent, they encourage schools to hide critical information about children (including gender transitions or other sensitive records) from their own parents.
Independent Women’s Voice has made it easy for citizens to engage with lawmakers on this issue before it has the force of law. Until September 12, anyone may submit a comment letting the Department of Education know that they will not accept the proposed regulations.
Fifteen states (WV, KS, MI, TX, UT, AZ, CO, NV, VA, OK, ID, WY, FL, MT, and GA) have state laws that protect parental rights, with most including education as an explicit right of parents. Some, like Arizona, have stronger laws that ensure the right to see curricula, protect a child’s records, and grant parents a legal remedy if their rights are violated.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin relied on the commonwealth’s parental rights statute when he issued the Executive Order that affirmed a parent’s right to decide whether or not their child would wear a mask in school.
One of the most critical issues in the world of parental rights is opt-out rights, which exist under the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), and in 34 states and the District of Columbia. PPRA legally empowers parents to opt-out of the intrusive surveys many schools are requiring students to take. The state laws require schools to inform parents when sex education lessons will occur and allow parents to legally opt their children out.
One weakness in the state opt-out laws on the books today is that they often apply only to formal sex education programs, but many schools have reclassified controversial lessons on sex and gender as part of their “anti-bullying” curricula, in order to avoid parental opt-outs.
Others fold teachings on gender ideology into science lessons, including those on “gender-inclusive biology,” which replaces words like mother with “gestational parent” and males with “people with testes.”
While getting schools to abandon these lessons might be difficult, opt-out laws are one way to protect children from the harm and confusion they cause. Where parents are not allowed to opt-out of certain lessons, parents must monitor and request information about the lessons their children are being taught and the materials and books used in the classroom and seek out opportunities to be involved in their child’s school, such as attending field trips, visiting the classroom, and fostering a relationship with the classroom teacher. Resources exist to educate and equip parents to exercise their right and high duty of directing their child’s education.
Do you want to learn more about parental rights? Independent Women’s Network hosted a live discussion followed by an audience Q&A with Parental Rights Foundation President Will Estrada where he provided critical insight into what parental rights are and how to exercise them.