Skip to comments.Guarantee of parents' rights sought in California
Posted on 07/18/2003 12:18:14 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
A California legal organization is pushing an effort to guarantee rights of parents in the state to direct the moral upbringing of their children in the wake of efforts by a controversial state senator to inform school superintendents that parents have few rights to "opt out" their children from mandated "anti-bias education."
Copies of Democratic state Sen. Sheila Kuehl's letter to all the state's public-school superintendents have been distributed via the Internet by The Pro-Family Law Center. According to Kuehl, the purpose of the letter was to inform school districts of their "responsibility" under the California Students Safety and Violence Prevention Act, which she authored, to teach tolerance and diversity. Kuehl, a lesbian Democrat, said even though the law has been on the books for over two years, "there still is substantial and documented harassment and discrimination against students who actually are or are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. "
One of the documents accompanying Kuehl's letter that is in a question-and-answer format was highlighted by the Pro-Family Law Center:
Q: Do parents have the right to notice about and to opt their children out of diversity education programs that include discussions of sexual orientation or other controversial topics? No.
Diversity or tolerance education programs that focus on preventing verbal harassment, threats and violence against students are not "sex education" or "family life" programs within the meaning of the California Education Code. Parents do not have a right to receive notice about or to opt their children out of such programs.
If they elect to send their children to public schools, parents have very limited rights to prevent their children from receiving the entire range of instruction available in public schools.
There are some topics that parents have a right to notice about and/or the right to opt their children out of, but, outside of these specific topics, parents do not have any general right to notice and the opportunity to opt their children out of the curriculum.
Q: Do parents have a constitutional right to prevent their children from receiving education in public schools on subjects they disapprove? Almost never.
Rich Ackerman, vice president of legal affairs for the law center, was shocked a state senator would contact every superintendent in the state with such a directive.
"It's horribly offensive what she did," said Ackerman, who recently found out about the mailing that originally went out in December. "She is misrepresenting her own law" in the letter and accompanying documents, he added.
The remedy to Kuehl's law, Ackerman says, is a statewide initiative that would amend the California Constitution. "That's the most powerful weapon in our arsenal," the attorney told WND.
The proposed amendment says:
"Parents have a fundamental right to raise, and direct the moral upbringing of, their children. The state shall not interfere with this right without a compelling state interest."
Ackerman says such an amendment would establish a "bastion in the law" that could be used to combat a myriad of laws and regulations that lessen parents' rights, especially in government school districts.
Another method of putting the language in the state constitution is to go directly through the Legislature. Ackerman is convinced if such a bill were introduced by Republicans, most Democratic lawmakers would not risk the ire of constituents by opposing it.
Part of Ackerman's motivation to propose the amendment was recent action by the judge presiding over a lawsuit in Novato, Calif.
As WorldNetDaily reported, last year the Pacific Justice Institute filed a suit against the Novato Unified School District on behalf of parents who say the district authorized pro-homosexual assemblies without any prior notice or parental consent.
The presentations, entitled "Cootie Shots," exposed elementary school children as young as 7 to skits containing gay and lesbian overtures. "Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry" is a collection of plays, songs and poems written by members of Fringe Benefits Theatre, a coalition of theater activists who, according to their website, are "dedicated to building bridges between gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youth and their straight peers, teachers and parents."
Gary Kreep, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, decried action by the judge that recently granted an American Civil Liberties Union motion to intervene in the case.
"This is the beginning of a litigation campaign to defend the rights of parents," declared Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute when the suit was filed.
PJI is supporting another effort at expanding parental rights: AB 1012 in the California Assembly. According to the group's website, the bill would require all school districts to allow for parents to be present when their children are being interrogated by a police officer on a school campus.
Yet another reason to homeschool.
That's similar to what ex-superintendent Delayne Easton tried to do. That is, push her personal bias as California law.