Across America, states have gone on the offensive, targeting the radical sex and “gender” curriculums in grade schools. These proposals follow increasing calls from parents to reject sexually explicit content unearthed in public school classrooms.
The Parental Rights in Education law, recently signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, sparked heated conversations throughout the nation regarding sex education and “gender ideology.” The Florida law addresses teacher conduct and material allowed in classrooms. It also postpones any teaching of sexual orientation and “gender identity” until after third grade.
Other states, such as Alabama, have followed suit, addressing not just education, but the medical field as well.
Thus far, schools and school boards have been the primary target of parental push back against radical gender ideology. However, the issue goes beyond one’s local public school district. The organizations that supply the curriculum and teacher training materials are just as important to examine.
One such organization is the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. This organization is a nonprofit devoted to sexual education advocacy.
Along with tracking current and future legislation nationwide, the group publishes guidelines for grade school children and young adults. It partners with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Advocates for Youth, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America to promote model legislation on “comprehensive sex education.”
Since its beginning in 1964, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States and its partners have been successful advocates for their cause. Through activism and political pressure, they have gained heavy influence in curriculum and government. They have advocated “gender-affirming” programs. They have also pushed opt-out bills as opposed to opt-in bills. That means parents must take their children out of a controversial class rather than place them in it.
Parents are worried that this agenda not only exposes children to inappropriate content at early ages, but it also promotes lifestyles that are contrary to many parents’ values. But these activist groups have no intention of losing the ground that they have gained.
They have denounced recent state proposals such as Florida’s. Take Eva Goldfarb and Lisa Lieberman, professors of public health at Montclair State University. In an online meeting, they suggested that the earlier in a child’s life that sex and gender topics are introduced into the curriculum, the better.
In the same meeting, they encouraged the promotion of sexual topics in other subjects. “The fact that topics falling within sex education can be addressed successfully across the curriculum,” they said, “is encouraging.”
And in the 2022 Legislative Look-Ahead, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States condemns parental rights bills as “insidious,” promising to increase efforts to fight such proposals.
Parents have been primarily taking on the public school system. However, to address the radical sexual orientation and gender identity agenda and other unsettling content, parents and concerned citizens should push for parental bills of rights.
In a recent report, Heritage Foundation experts Jonathan Butcher and Lindsey Burke lay out what an ideal proposal would look like. They begin with changing the way schools view students in their care. According to the report, a parent bill of rights must affirm parents as the child’s primary caregivers.
Parents are the ones “primarily responsible for their children’s education and health, as well as their moral and religious upbringing.” Students must also be protected from compelled speech and parents must have the final say regarding health and counseling services that are provided to their child.
To directly address the curriculum developers, lawmakers and parents should push for transparency in the classroom. This transparency should not only include specifics about the curriculum, but who is providing the school with it.
Parents have a right to know what is being taught to their children, and should have easy access to class syllabi, textbooks, homework, and reading materials. A school should make this easily accessible on its website and learning management system.
Another avenue is supporting grassroots organizations like Parents Defending Education who are “fighting indoctrination in the classroom.” Many such groups diligently file Freedom of Information Act requests to expose explicit content and litigate on behalf of families.
In addition to transparency, parents should enjoy far more school choice. This would give parents exit options when they don’t like what their children’s schools are teaching.
This year alone, 27 states have put forward proposals for new school choice programs or the expansion of existing ones. Parents should have the choice to send their child—and their money—to the school that they believe aligns with their values.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal