By TIM BARTO
Parents across the country are showing up at their local school board meetings to reclaim their parent advocacy rights, and last night Alaska joined the crowd by turning out en masse at a meeting of the Anchorage School Board. Bolstered by common frustrations that public schools are going too far by advocating policies that exclude parents and common sense, over 50 people attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom were there to support parental rights.
Prior to the meeting, about two dozen supporters stood outside the ASD headquarters, holding sign that read “We Do Not Co-Parent With The Government” and “Parental Rights Are Essential.”
Alaska Family Council spearheaded the call to action, and President Jim Minnery was pleased with the turnout, as well as the civility and articulate testimonies of those who chose to voice their opinions directly to the Board during the public presentation period.
Student testimony, which Minnery expected to be high, resulted in only two speakers, one of whom was the sibling of a transgender student and appeared via telephone, and one well-spoken and courageous transgender student who appeared in person. Both students spoke about the difficulties transgender students face in public schools and the need for understanding.
The student testimony was followed by 22 public speakers who were given three minutes to make their case. Seventeen of them spoke out strongly in favor of parental rights, two expressed sympathies with transgender and queer students, one spoke of overcrowding at Eagle Academy, one spoke of the need for the strong family units he saw while working overseas, and Dustin Darden discussed his great dislike of Pfizer vaccines.
The comments geared toward parental rights centered around the district’s policy that secondary students’ parents need not be notified of their child’s desire to live life at school as a member of the opposite sex.
Near the end of the meeting, Board member Andy Holleman pointed out that this is a difficult and rare situation, something he didn’t have to deal with as a teacher back in the 1990s. He questioned what would happen if a parent called a school asking if their child was being allowed to use a name or pronouns inconsistent with their sex, admitting he did not know the answer and further stating that is an issue that needed to be clarified by the counseling staff.
Minnery read a proposed resolution he would like to see implemented by the district. It requires that a parent or guardian be notified within three school days if their child requests to:
- Be identified as a gender other than their biological sex or gender,
- Use a name that differs from the child’s legal name or use pronouns that to not align with their biological sex or gender,
- Access to sex-segregated school programs and activities, bathrooms, or changing facilities that do not align with their biological sex or gender.
Seems pretty common sense to let a parent know those kinds of things.
The crux of the matter is that government institutions, which include public schools, do not have the right to keep information about a child from that child’s parents. A government that intervenes in the moral upbringing of a child by asserting or even encouraging values that are contradictory to those of the parents is putting the government above, and in place of, the family – the most important structure in any society.
When tyrannical governments want to subjugate a population, they drive wedges between children and their families. In the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, children were encouraged to report family members, including their parents, if those family members’ beliefs went against Marxist or fascist ideologies.
There’s a very telling scene if the movie The Killing Fields, which shows the brutal oppression of Cambodian citizens by the communist Khmer Rouge. The scene takes place in a re-education camp, where a child is called to a blackboard where there’s a drawing of a stick figure family – father, mother, and three children all holding hands in a line. The student who was called up to the board draws an X through the parental figures and erases the holding hands linking the parents and children. The symbolism is obvious: State and party ideology have authority over the family.
These oppressive governments wanted – above all else – to have universal, unquestioned allegiance to their ideologies, and the key was in indoctrinating their youth. They were convinced they knew what was best for the greater good and they, not parents or families, would be the enforcers of morality for the collective.
And this is what is happening when the Anchorage School District excludes parents from knowing what is going on with their children. It is a gross usurpation of parental rights.
Children belong to their families, not the school district or individual teachers. Parents, in a free society, make the rules and set the moral standards for their families. It is certainly not the job of the schools to impose sexual morals on students, and it is never proper for public schools to keep important information about a student’s mental/emotional behavior from parents.
It is fully understandable to have a confidential conversation with a child when there is obvious reason to believe that physical or sexual abuse is occurring in the home, but the fear that a parent might not agree with a child’s decision to identify as a member of the opposite sex is not a valid reason. It is not abuse for parents to expect their sons to act like boys or their daughters to act like a girls, and it is no business of a teacher, school counselor, administrator, superintendent, or board to claim that it is.
Tim Barto is Vice President of Alaska Family Council and attended and provided testimony at the board meeting.