The Florida Legislature has passed a new bill protecting the rights of the parents of school students, even after progressives pulled out all of the stops to defeat it.
Leftists mischaracterized the legislation as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” alluding to a supposed ban on any classroom discussion of homosexuality, even though that prohibition applies exclusively to children in kindergarten through third grade.
What Does the Law Cover?
The real name of the bill is the Parental Rights in Education Act, which accurately describes its purpose. The overwhelming success of the bill is making it a model for other states. Therefore, it is appropriate to examine it in some detail. This summary is a paraphrase. The bill’s actual language is readily available.
The new law specifically requires school systems to:
- Notify parents if there is a change in the student’s mental, emotional or physical health, which changes the school’s services to the student.
- Reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding their children.
- Encourage and facilitate discussions between students and their parents about mental, emotional or physical health issues.
The law also contains several specific prohibitions. Under it, schools may not:
- Block parents’ access to education and health records.
- Prohibit school personnel from notifying parents about their children’s health or well-being.
- Encourage a student to withhold information from parents.
- Discourage or prohibit parental involvement in critical decisions.
- Permit age-inappropriate instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity.
As mentioned above, there are also specific prohibitions protecting children from kindergarten through third grade.
Parents vs. “Experts”
This controversy is the most recent chapter of a sex education debate that originated in the sixties. One side consists of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors and many teachers. They argue that children need professionally-designed guidance that parents cannot possibly provide.
Only one group stands against this impressive array of experts—parents.
Unfortunately, it has always been challenging to transfer parents’ concerns into effective political action. Many parents are quite willing to let the schools take over this uncomfortable topic. Other parents, exhibiting the lack of morality associated with the sexual revolution, agree with the schools. Traditionally-minded parents willing to engage in fighting the process are the only defense left. Experts and the media usually mocked these as “prudish” or “repressive.”
A New Field of Battle
However, the ground has recently shifted in favor of traditionally-minded parents. There are three reasons for this critical change.
First, the Covid crisis focused parents’ attention on the schools. This phenomenon has been thoroughly discussed elsewhere, so it requires little explanation here. Suffice it to say that so-called distance education revealed the dark side of school curricula to parents, who do not like what they saw.
Second, the progressives have become more blatant and radical in their positions. The depictions of illicit sexual activity have become more graphic, and that plays a role—as the current controversies over school library books confirm. In its radical shift, the left has become increasingly dismissive of the parental role.
Cutting Parents Out
One example is the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Nonconforming and Questioning Support Guide” used in the Leon County (Tallahassee, Florida) Schools. It contains the following:
Q: A student has exhibited behavior in school, leading administrators or teachers to believe the student is LGBTQ+. Should the parents or legal guardians be notified?
A: No. Outing a student, especially to parents, can be very dangerous to the student’s health and well-being. Some students are not able to be out at home because their parents are unaccepting of LGBTQ+ people out. As many as 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+, many of whom have been rejected by their families for being LGBTQ+. Outing students to their parents can literally make them homeless.
The message is that parents are both incompetent and dangerous.
Finally, society has become more skeptical of these liberal experts, especially in light of the troubles during the summer of 2020 and their aftermaths. The public health bureaucracy contradicted itself over Covid but treated those who noted the contradictions as public enemies. Mayors and prosecutors in some of America’s largest cities openly took the side of criminals. General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, condemned supposed “white rage” in the military when he should have been directing an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The liberal news media have also lost their credibility in recent years because they are more overt about their biases. As a result, far fewer people watch the major networks or read daily newspapers. Those who do are more skeptical than previous generations. There are also far more news outlets today that present other perspectives from a different set of experts who refute liberal myths.
Faltering Weapons and Tactics
Indeed, the left made the battle over this bill a media battle, using all of the typical tools. One tool is to turn parents who are victims of this abuse into intolerant aggressors. This tactic takes away the right of parents to educate their children and endows the children with adult rights.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki engaged in this tactic and added character assassination.
“A bill that would discriminate against families, against kids, put these kids in the position of not getting the support they need at a time when that is exactly what they need is discriminatory, it’s a form of bullying, it is horrific. I mean, the president has spoken to that.”
I think the most important question is why are Florida leaders deciding they need to discriminate against kids who are members of the LGBTQUI community? What prompts them to do that? Is it meanness? Is it wanting kids to have a more difficult time in school, in their communities?”
However, such tactics no longer sway the general public. The verbal assaults and innuendo that once carried the day are no longer effective. In response, the left becomes ever more shrill—with the effect that their damaged credibility becomes even more suspect.
A New Opportunity
As the general public grows more aware of leftist methods, their tactics lose potency. Therein lies a great opportunity. Since about 1900, progressives in education have relied on the influence of so-called experts. They supposedly know what is best for everyone else. That pseudo-expertise was based on academic credentials. Society is beginning to see the fallacy behind that façade. The radical goals of the leftist experts are setting off alarm bells.
It is time to reject this radical agenda and search for wise leaders. The Florida bill is a good beginning. May other states build upon its success.
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