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Opinion

We Passed A Parent’s Bill Of Rights In Florida — Parents Across The Country Deserve The Same

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K-12 education institutions have been intentionally creating barriers between parents and their minor children, often under the guise of “safety.” Moms and dads across the United States must recognize the concerted effort by public school educators and administrators to sideline parents as the primary figures in raising children, and stand-up for their parental rights to know what their children are taught in schools — in the classrooms, hallways, and guidance offices.

Make no mistake, there is a purposeful effort to keep parents in the dark when it comes to raising our children. I encountered this first-hand here in Florida. In October of 2018, my school district superintendent released “gender diverse guidelines” to staff noting that a child’s name, pronoun, and facility usage were up to the student and student alone — blatantly excluding parents. 

The guidelines went as far to say that while in elementary grades parents are usually involved, whether to include them in a child’s gender preference would be determined on a case-by-case basis. Translation: This government entity will determine whether parents are afforded information about their minor child or not.

I was chair of our school board at that time, and while I had seen a lot prior to 2018, this was the tipping point for me. I saw clearly how parental rights were being stripped and undermined, and I decided enough was enough. 

I made certain that every local media outlet was aware of what school administrators were trying to hide and circumvent the elected school board by calling them “guidelines” versus “policy.” Our superintendent used this word gymnastics to claim that the “guidelines” complied with the school districts’ anti-discrimination policy. It was clear to me this needed to be legislated at the state level, as the School Board Association and a variety of special interests were in lockstep about denying parental rights over major decisions about minor children because “some homes aren’t safe.” 

Ultimately, I was heard, and Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida’s Parents Bill of Rights in 2021 and the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act in 2022. The newly enacted laws reinforce parents’ fundamental rights to know what their children are being taught and make decisions regarding their children’s education. A central focus of the Parental Rights in Education Act is to stop school boards and teachers from hiding information from parents. 

As a parent of school aged children in Florida, and chair of the Sarasota County School Board, I have already seen a huge difference in the transparency in curriculum and schools in Florida. All parents, in every state deserve the same fundamental rights to know exactly what their children are exposed to at school, and I applaud the Republicans in the House for leading the fight to codify parental rights in the United States. And there is certainly a fight ahead. 

Opponents of a national Parents Bill of Rights argue that codifying a parent’s right to know what her child is being taught in school is “unnecessary.” That’s what they want you to believe, but the COVID shutdown revelations showed us that long gone are the days when parents could trust their local schools. According to Parents Defending Education (PDE), 6,000 schools across the U.S. “permit or require staff to withhold information on a student’s change in gender identity from parents.” That’s three million students affected by such policies. 

The House Judiciary Committee recently released a report revealing the Biden administration colluded with the National School Board Association to draft a letter calling parents “Domestic Terrorists,” prompting the U.S. attorney general to deploy the FBI and counterterrorism tactics to intimidate America’s parents in speaking up for their children. This revelation alone provides enough evidence to support clear protections for parent’s rights in this country.

And, the Biden administration is weaponizing yet another federal agency to strip away parental rights through its proposed changes to Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination, to include protections based on gender identity” — meaning local or state policies will no longer protect against biological men using a female bathroom, locker-room or from playing on a women’s sports team. It would also provide protections under federal law for school districts to “keep parents in the dark if their child adopts a new name or gender identity.” The Department of Education is expected to announce its decision on such changes to Title IX in May.

No one loves a child more than his or her parents and we must fight efforts by the government to tell us otherwise and replace us as the primary influence in raising our children. Make no mistake, teachers’ unions with the backing of the government are trying to displace us. We need to be clear eyed about what is going on and defend our rightful place in the lives of our children.

Bridget Ziegler is Director of the Leadership Institute’s School Board Programs and Chair of the Sarasota County School Board

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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