In a unanimous decision, the Fairbanks Board of Education approved a policy this week affirming parents’ right to opt their students out of lessons they deem inappropriate, which may include such topics as birth control, gender ideology, or critical race theory.
The policy, titled “Parental Involvement in Education,” solidifies the stance that parents have the authority to guide their child’s education in alignment with their beliefs.
The policy ensures parents can withdraw their children from activities, classes, tests, or programs without penalization, as long as the students fulfill necessary graduation requirements.
A key aspect addresses content related to human reproduction or sexual matters. The school district will be required to provide two weeks’ notice to parents before any activity, class, or program involving such content. This provision offers families ample time to decide whether to opt their children out of these specific components.
The policy’s implementation aligns the school district with Alaska House Bill 156, enacted in 2016, which mandated that school districts permit parents to opt their children out of particular programs, classes, and activities.
While parents have the right to opt their students out, it’s made clear in the new policy that school employees remain available to answer questions from students on any topic.
The policy reinforces the long-standing practice of Fairbanks schools, which have allowed parents to opt their children out of specific lessons for years.
In exercising their rights under Policy 126, parents and guardians are required to express their objection each time they wish to withdraw their student from an activity, class, program, or assessment. Categorical objections or complete withdrawals from all activities are not permitted. However, students who are withdrawn by their parents will not face penalties, and any absences stemming from parental objections will be excused.
The policy’s intent is not to hinder a child’s learning experience, but to provide parents with the means to be actively involved in their child’s education.
The School Board recognizes that parents/guardians are their children’s first and most influential teachers and that continued parental involvement in the education of children contributes greatly to student achievement and conduct.
In exercising their roles in the education of their students, parents/guardians have the following specific rights:
- The right to object to and withdraw their student from a standards-based assessment or test required by the State of Alaska.
- The right to object to and withdraw their student from an activity, class, or program.
- The right to be notified at least two weeks before any activity, class, or program is provided to their student that includes content involving human reproduction or sexual matters, except this right does not extend to training provided to students on awareness and prevention of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and dating violence and abuse.
- The right to withdraw their student from an activity, class, program, or standards based assessment or test required by the State of Alaska for a religious holiday, as defined by the parent/guardian.
- The right to review the content of an activity, class, performance standard, or program.
All means of notification required under this policy and state law shall be pursuant to administrative regulation.
In exercising the rights above, parents/guardians must object each time the parent/guardian wishes to withdraw their student from an activity, class, program, or standards-based assessment or test required by the State of Alaska. Categorical objections and withdrawals from all activities, classes, programs, or assessments are not permitted.
Students will not be penalized when withdrawn by parents/guardians from an activity, class, program, or standards-based assessment or test. Absences based on parent objection and withdrawal will be excused and, as appropriate, alternative work assigned.
Nothing in this section prohibits a school employee or volunteer from answering a question from a child about any topic.