Remove, rename, restrain. Radical activists and policymakers are using these tactics to restrict parents’ involvement in their children’s health care and education. Now some state lawmakers are responding with another “r” — reinforcing parental rights.
First, the radicals: In Vermont, lawmakers introduced a proposal that would allow young children to receive puberty-delaying hormones or other “treatments” without the consent of a parent or guardian. Minor children could take the drastic step of trying to assume a different “gender” without their parent’s input.
Policies based on what are called “critical gender studies” remove parents from essential health care decisions concerning their children — including decisions made in a school setting. Similar provisions are already in place in New Jersey, California and elsewhere.
So-called gender warriors are also renaming ideas to distort facts. Students often struggle with depression and confusing sexual emotions simultaneously. Critical gender theorists say students need “gender-affirming” treatment and, with little research to support these interventions (and without parental consent), encourage students to take hormones that can lead to infertility and encourage irreversible surgeries that can damage sexual organs.
Critical race theory is a relative of critical gender theory. Adherents of both theories use the same renaming tactic to advance their agendas. “Antiracist,” for example, does not mean you oppose racism. It means you believe that racial discrimination is necessary today to counter discrimination by prior generations. Educators teaching such concepts have tried to hide these lessons from parents, too.
Special interest groups and federal lawmakers are trying to restrain parents from being involved in school activities. The National School Board Association did exactly this in collusion with federal officials last fall in an attempt to restrict parents’ participation in school board meetings.
Yet earlier this year, Florida lawmakers adopted a “parent bill of rights” to affirm a family’s importance in a child’s life.
Radicals promptly labeled this bill the “Don’t Say Gay” bill despite commonsense provisions stating that K-12 teaching content should be age-appropriate. Ambiguous lessons on “gender identity” should not be taught to children in kindergarten to third grade.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita recently released a guidebook outlining key provisions that policymakers should include in a parent bill of rights. It includes the right to see what their children are learning, including reading lists and course syllabi.
It establishes parents as the primary decision-makers for their child’s medical treatments. It also says, correctly, that critical race theory’s “teachings are widespread” and the theory’s “principles are not rooted in American history or known historical fact.”
Kansas lawmakers responded to critical gender studies and critical race theory with a proposal that strengthens a parent’s right to make medical decisions concerning their school-aged children.
The proposal also rejects school activities based on critical race theory that result in racial discrimination. State lawmakers proposed that no teacher or student shall be compelled to “believe, profess or adhere to any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The Civil Rights Act’s colorblind provisions are crucial. Critical race theorists falsely teach that white lawmakers only allowed this seminal piece of American law to pass to preserve white power — a strange argument considering the ethnicities of those who have served and serve today in positions of authority.
Surveys show parents want their children taught that slavery and Jim Crow laws were tragedies but that these racist institutions do not represent who we are as a country. No one should have to profess that America is systemically racist.
As a general rule, doctors do not prescribe medicine to a young child because the child demands treatment based on their feelings — why should the hard-to-describe emotions surrounding “gender” be any different?
Critical race and gender theory corrupt these ideas while activists try to dissolve parents’ authority over their child’s schooling. Parents are the most important adults in a child’s life. Instead of marginalizing them, state officials should be empowering, encouraging and engaging them.
• Jonathan Butcher is the Will Skillman fellow in education at The Heritage Foundation and the author of “Splintered: Critical Race Theory and the Progressive War on Truth.” (Post Hill Press/Bombardier Books, 2022)