For a brief moment last week, President Joe Biden’s administration appeared to be interested in what parents think about K-12 schools. Low student achievement coming out of the pandemic. High rates of depression among youth. School officials hiding information about students’ health from their parents.
The administration seemed to be aware of these concerns when it announced the creation of a National Parents and Families Engagement Council to “facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents.”
But just when we thought this administration was ready to apologize for, say, intimidating parents who voice their opinions at school board meetings, astute observers noticed that the new council actually included groups complicit with such intimidation.
Last fall, the administration coordinated with the National School Boards Association for the association to release a letter saying that federal officials should investigate parents who speak up at local school board meetings. The letter called for agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the potential for any “enforceable actions” against those making public comments at these meetings.
But as Parents Defending Education’s Erika Sanzi notes, a group called the National Parents Union also supported the letter and is now a founding member of the new so-called parents council.
So, is the White House bringing parents together to listen to them or to try to convince them to support Biden’s policies?
The announcement about the parent council was just days old when the administration made yet another charge at “protecting families.” This time, though, the administration did not even try to hide the coercion.
On June 15, Biden issued an executive order on “advancing equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex individuals.” The order states that the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education would be releasing model state legislation in the coming months to support the “rights” of these individuals.
Model legislation from Washington is not even necessary for us to know the administration’s position at this point—federal officials have made it clear that existing federal and state laws will not stop them from replacing “sex” with “sexual orientation and gender identity” anywhere they see it. To justify this act of executive fiat, they must misinterpret the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.
In May, the administration did something that offered a peek at what may come in a model bill: Federal officials skipped over Congress and any rule-making processes and are threatening to withhold federal school lunches from low-income children in schools where boys are not allowed to participate in girls sports or access girls bathrooms.
The executive order says there have been “unrelenting political and legislative attacks at the State level … on LGBTQI+ children and families in particular.”
This sounds like a reference to state policies that require educators to include parents in discussions and intervention plans for children who are depressed, anxious, and confused about their sex—three conditions often found together in children caught up in the “transgender” movement.
Parents should be at the center of conversations with their children about their sexuality. Some state agencies, however, have adopted policies that prohibit teachers from telling parents when a child is confused about his or her sex. In response, lawmakers in other states, such as Florida, have adopted policies that say parents must be part of any health or medical decisions made regarding their school-aged children. State policymakers around the country are considering similar “parents’ bills of rights.”
The provisions in these parents’ bills of rights do not conform to the Biden administration’s advocacy for radical “gender” policies and the efforts to hide information about children from their parents. The forthcoming federal model legislation for states is the administration’s response to states that are reinforcing parents’ roles as the students’ primary caregivers.
Washington’s signals that it is interested in children and families disappeared this week in a cloud of advocacy for these radical policies. Individuals—including minor-age children—who are struggling with their sexual identity deserve empathy and compassion. Parents and family are necessary parts of such responses. Research finds that nearly all cases of youth gender dysphoria resolve as long as kids are not fast-tracked into “transitioning” to appear as the opposite sex with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.
Despite the talk of “parent councils” and “protecting families,” the Biden White House wants to force a radical gender agenda on young minds and limit parents’ power to stop it.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal