Following up on their model policy to ensure ongoing bullying of LGBT students, Focus on the Family and Alliance Defending Freedom have released new model legislation about “parents’ rights.” Much of the access they seek for parents greatly endangers children and deprives them the opportunity to learn about their own identities and the world around them. Here is the risky access these anti-gay groups seek for parents:
- The right to be notified if courses teach sex education, family planning, homosexual themes, diversity issues, and extreme violence. This is broad, vague language that could scare teachers and administrators from even allowing certain topics to be discussed in class, not unlike the stifling “Don’t Say Gay” legislation proposed in various states or the failed “neutrality” policy once employed in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District.
- The right to opt the child out of any course or activity the parent finds “morally or religiously offensive.” This is similarly broad access that could deprive children of learning important information about their own bodies, their own identities, their own families, the political issues impacting the world they live in, and quite possibly the basic tenets of biology, if evolution is also covered.
- The right to opt the child in to any course or school activity that includes information about contraceptive services. “Opt in” means that the child cannot be enrolled without permission. Even though abstinence-only education is demonstrably ineffective, such a policy would allow parents to prevent public education that benefits the health of society.
- The right to review all curricula and teaching materials. Such a policy would undermine the credentials and expertise that qualifies teachers to teach and allow parents to pick and choose what their kids can learn.
- The right to access the child’s record, including grades and counseling records. This provision could be particularly detrimental to young people who are struggling with coming out and are not yet out to their parents. Studies have found that 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, primarily because of family rejection.
- The right to remove the child from school on days of religious observance. This policy is already in place.
- The right to be informed of all disciplinary proceedings. As with the counseling records, this policy could similarly out young people to their parents without their consent, particularly if simply being a victim of anti-gay bullying warrants a disciplinary record. Administrators should have a certain amount of discretion in how to proceed in each situation to act in students’ best interests.
- The right to opt the child out of any extracurricular activity in which the parent does not want the child to participate. This is yet another attempt to violate young people’s privacy, should they be participating in a gay-straight alliance or similar group but have not yet come out to their parents.
Once again, Focus and ADF have proven that their top priority has nothing to do with protecting children, but actually ensuring that LGBT young people remain as vulnerable and misinformed as possible.