If Maryland parents and lawmakers don’t act now, special-interest groups and radical gender activists will get what they want—namely, parents being removed from decision-making about their children’s education and well-being.
In the past two years, Maryland’s largest public school district, Montgomery County, saw a purported 582% increase in students self-reporting as identifying as “gender nonconforming” or as a gender different from their biological sex.
Some 239 students self-reported their “nonconforming gender identity” in the 2021-2022 school year, compared with just 35 students in the 2019-2020 school year.
The parents of these children were supposedly not notified regarding the change in their children’s identity.
What’s worst of all, however, is that some in the district’s administration seem to be thrilled about the rise in gender confusion among children.
Public schools in Montgomery County are becoming LGBTQ+ indoctrination facilities. Guidance counselors are building “gender support plans” for students. According to district guidelines, they aren’t required to disclose a child’s preferred sexual identity to the parent and are instructed to strictly enforce transgender pronoun usage.
Families have tried fighting back against this radical ideology. In 2020, three parents filed a lawsuit against the Montgomery County Board of Education over its gender-affirming guidelines, saying they were “expressly designed to circumvent parental involvement in a pivotal decision affecting” their children’s “care, health education, and future.”
To the complainants’ dismay, a federal district court judge concluded that there was no “fundamental right [for parents to be promptly informed of their child’s gender identity] under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The courts in Maryland have failed to secure the most basic rights of parents. What’s worse is that the non-transparent gender policy is embedded into the guidelines of the Maryland State Department of Education. Its policies state that “no provision of state or federal law requires schools to affirmatively disclose [gender] sensitive information to parents.”
Research by The Heritage Foundation outlines what provisions would make a parental bill of rights effective, yet lawmakers have failed to address the issue.
Maryland parents must look to states such as Florida, a champion of school transparency, as to how best to protect and reaffirm their parental rights in education. In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Act into law. The bill “prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade, bans teaching that isn’t “age-appropriate,” and enforces a requirement to “notify parents of any change in services from the school regarding a child’s mental, emotional, or physical health, or well-being.”
In other words, it ensures normalcy for children, removes harmful instruction from the classroom, and gives parents full knowledge of their child’s health and education.
When Maryland legislators return to the next General Assembly session in January, it’s critical that they adopt a parental bill of rights that contains provisions that will reaffirm parents as children’s primary caregivers, protect children from racial discrimination in the form of critical race theory, allow parents—and taxpayers—to view the material that educators are teaching students, and require that schools receive permission from parents before administering health services to students.
Put another way, parents must be restored at the center of intimate questions regarding their children’s mental and physical health.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal