Parents Have Rights - They Should Know Them

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The topic of parental rights has been a prominent part of the discussion in the overall education debate that is taking place across the country. With parents concerned about what their kids are being taught in public schools, the subject has become even more important, especially with school districts actively keeping them in the dark when it comes to curriculum and their children. Many districts have imposed policies instructing teachers not to inform parents if their child expresses confusion over their gender or sexuality, which has created a national backlash against the public school system.

However, parents cannot effectively advocate for their rights if they are not aware of what they are. This is why parental rights group Moms for America released a guidebook titled “A Mom’s Guide to Parental Rights” on Tuesday designed to educate parents on what they need to know to protect their kids from problematic elements in their schools.

The book explains how Congress recognized that educating children is the “primary responsibility” of parents when it established the Department of Education in 1979. These rights include parents sitting in on their children’s classes and the ability to review school records if they believe educators or staff are hiding important information about their kids.

“But beyond laws – your rights as a mom are implicit – absolute – they are supreme. You gave your child life and as a parent you’re fully responsible and invested to protect them and guide them,” the guidebook states.

The group explains that Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) defines the term “parental involvement” as the right for parents to engage in “regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities. This includes ensuring:

(A) that parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning

(B) that parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school

(C) that parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decision making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child.

Several school districts appear to be in violation of this legislation. Instructing educators and school counselors not to inform parents if their kid expresses a desire to transition to another gender, or to conceal lessons they are teaching to K-12 students seems to fly in the face of the ESSA. This has already led to at least one lawsuit filed against a school district.

WHSV reported: “Harrisonburg City Public Schools is facing a lawsuit from a group of six parents and teachers regarding a school division policy on gender identity and the treatment of transgender students.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group that deals with these types of cases. They claim the district’s policy violates their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

The district’s policy mandates that teachers ask students what their preferred names and pronouns are. If a student chooses a name and pronouns different from their biological sex, “the information is shared with a guidance counselor who will facilitate a conversation on gender identity with the student,” according to the report. Teachers are not allowed to inform the student’s parents of their choice.

The suit alleges that the district’s policy requirements exceed what has been laid out by the Department of Education. Amanda Reiman-Johnson, an attorney and legal analyst at Reiman Law Firm in Virginia, told WHSV that this lawsuit is the first of its kind.

“There hasn’t been a case that’s been exactly like this before that’s been brought in Virginia. So it’s going to be incredibly important for other jurisdictions to see what the outcome of this case might be,” she said.

Reiman-Johnson noted that the state’s Supreme Court tends to favor greater parental involvement in their children’s education. “The Virginia Supreme Court has routinely upheld that parents should have the ultimate say in dictating how their child is brought up whether that is regarding their education or their own religious beliefs,” she said.

Moms for America’s guidebook is an important tool for all parents. The effort to indoctrinate and even groom children can’t be curtailed if people do not understand how their rights work and how to fight back. As more people become aware of what is happening in their children’s schools, they will want to do something about it. This resource could prove to be invaluable in this particular battle.


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