Mom and her daughter, a schoolgirl, are on the doorstep
Mom and her daughter, a schoolgirl, are on the doorstep

The Bottom Line It’s Time for Parents to Reclaim Authority Over Their Children

Originally published at American Thinker

The results of the Virginia gubernatorial race made two things clear. First, Democrat leaders, in lockstep with teacher unions, want unbridled control of children through public schools. Second, growing numbers of increasingly passionate parents are standing up to the threats to their parental authority over their children. In turning down former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginians sent a resounding message to the entire country — parents will fight for their rights and for their children.

McAuliffe’s candor during a September 29 debate against Glenn Youngkin set parents on fire, and likely cost him the election. Referring to books with sexually explicit material, he vowed that he would not “let parents come into schools and take books off the shelves.” He doubled down a few seconds later with this indicative statement: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

But his loss was not just a matter of some ill-advised comments. Disturbing as they were to many parents, McAuliffe’s actions while Virginia governor in 2016 revealed that in his mind, parental consent is not applicable when it comes to what is taught in the classroom.  Specifically, he vetoed a bill that would have required schools to warn parents if their children would be assigned books with sexually explicit content.

Clearly, this is not just a Virginia issue. On the national stage, just a few days after McAuliffe’s debate statements, Attorney General Merrick Garland threatened to sic the Department of Justice on parents who speak out against the radical politics, practices, and curriculum in their children’s schools.

Teacher unions are also major players in the drive to exercise control over the next generation. With the remote sessions that became the norm due to Covid school shutdowns, parents had a front-row seat in their children and teens’ classroom. They were understandably shocked to learn that political indoctrination had replaced academic learning. And the longer teacher unions thwarted the reopening of schools to in-person learning, the more parents were exposed to the leftwing agenda dominating the school day. Not surprisingly, parents by the droves pulled their students from public schools mid-year and in the fall of 2021.

The radical ideologies being taught range from gender redefinition and self-selection, the rewriting of history, and Critical Race Theory. But the negative impact on our children’s hearts and minds is not limited to instruction; it is implemented through school policies and practices. For example, students as young as age five are not only taught that their gender is open to their own interpretation and selection, but they are also encouraged to self-select the bathroom and the preferred pronouns they use, regardless of whether those match their biological sex.

Students can go to a Planned Parenthood clinic (under the guise of a Wellness Center) to receive a prescription for hormones of the opposite sex (i.e., estrogen for males and testosterone for females) or be referred for an abortion on their school campus, during the school day, free of charge, and without parental consent.

Keri D. Ingraham

Not only is all this often taking place without parental consent required, but in many cases, it is even kept secret from parents and legal guardians through lies and deceit. According to research by Ryan T. Anderson, “they want to set up a school environment so your child or grandchild can transition at school without you knowing about it…to avoid any ‘inadvertent disclosures.’” Some districts go as far as to have two views of electronic student record information — one view the parent sees when logged on, including the student’s given name, gender, etc., and another view that only the school can access that includes the conflicted name, gender, and preferred pronouns.

Legal experts Sarah Parshall Perry and Alexander Phipps argue that this overreach and deceit by our public schools violates the equal protection requirement of the 14th Amendment as well as the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which grants parents the rights of their children’s school records. A lawsuit in Wisconsin is underway as the Kettle Moraine School District authorizes students to change their names and gender pronouns void of parental consent.

In prompting children to question their basic identity, schools not only breed confusion but mental and emotional harm. And their agenda is not limited to words — they actively facilitate gender-transition measures. For example, in California, students who qualify can go to a Planned Parenthood clinic (under the guise of a Wellness Center) on their school campus to receive a prescription for hormones of the opposite sex (i.e., estrogen for males and testosterone for females). All this is free of charge and requires no parental consent. Furthermore, those prescribing the gender-transitioning drugs can’t even ask for parental consent. But that’s not all. Due to the Biden administration reinstating funding for Title X, under these federal dollars and parameters, pre-teen and teen girls can be referred for an abortion on their school campus, during the school day, and in secret from their parents, at the school’s Wellness Center.

McAuliffe was a bit of a pioneer in 2016 when he used his political power to ensure parents were unaware of sexually explicit books placed in the hands of their children. Yet far graver damage to our children occurs every school day across our nation today — some with irreversible, life-altering consequences. This includes young girls’ losing the ability to have children later in life or, at the other end of the spectrum, choosing to end the life of their preborn child with the encouragement of their school’s clinic, all with no guidance or input from their dad and mom. Young boys are also led to experiencing lifelong implications from taking estrogen hormones. And the above-mentioned gender-altering practices are linked with higher rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide. In all these cases, children are being fostered to make significant decisions that can cause pain for a lifetime.

Public schools, you’ve gone too far and need to be held accountable. It’s time more parents nationwide join those in Virginia to raise their voices and exercise their votes to elect political leaders, superintendents, and school board members who will work with and for parents in the academic education of their children. These are our children, not theirs.

Keri D. Ingraham

Senior Fellow and Director, American Center for Transforming Education
Dr. Keri D. Ingraham is a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute and Director of the Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education. She is also a Senior Fellow at Independent Women’s Forum. Dr. Ingraham has been a guest on Fox News multiple times. Her articles have been published by The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, The Federalist, Real Clear Education, The Washington Times, The Epoch Times, Washington Examiner, National Review, The American Spectator, Daily Caller, The Seattle Times, Puget Sound Business Journal, The Daily Signal, and a host of other media outlets. Fox News has featured her work. Prior to joining Discovery Institute, she spent nearly two decades leading within the field of education as a national consultant, requested conference speaker, head of school, virtual and hybrid academy director, administrator, classroom teacher, and athletic coach. She authored multiple chapters for the book, Sketching a New Conservative Education Agenda, published in 2022. In 2019, she was invited as a contributing author for the book, MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education and co-authored “From Gutenberg to 5G.” Dr. Ingraham was awarded the George W. Selig Doctoral Fellowship in 2013. The following year she received the “World Changer in the Field of Education” award from Regent University.
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