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By Meg Kilgannon

In a review of all the political news in 2021, it would be hard to deny the impact of parents engaging the system. Politicians are responding to the undeniable force of concerned parents advocating for and protecting children. With state legislatures in full swing, we see many examples of legislation that reflect this much-needed pressure from parents: bills opposing the teaching of critical race theory (CRT), protecting students from gender identity ideology, providing oversight of libraries, and encouraging school curricula transparency.

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Critical Theory

Post-modernism’s impact on K-12 education can be clearly seen in the introduction of teaching “critical theories” like CRT and queer theory. Organizations like the highly-partisan and left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center have pushed ideologies such as these in schools for decades, virtually unopposed. When parents finally stood up against this divisive material, politicians responded. In just the past month, 56 state-level bills opposing CRT have been proposed across the country. Virginia’s newly-elected governor, Glenn Youngkin (R), issued an executive order regarding “divisive concepts” as part of his Day One Agenda, fulfilling a campaign promise. He also set up a hotline for parents to report curricula that are harmful to children and compromise learning. Left-wing organizations that dominate public institutions will predictably decry these efforts. And the legislative process is complex, producing bills that are less than perfect in some cases. But the important achievement is that public officials are responding to the voices of parents who demand intellectual protections for children, in some cases for the first time.

Gender Identity Ideology

Parents are fighting back against efforts to indoctrinate children in gender identity ideology. Whether it’s activist teachers overstepping their authority to encourage children to “transition” or school systems promoting dangerous policies that can lead to medical procedures that harm children, thanks to parental engagement, political leaders are finally stepping in to offer legislation to protect children and families from harmful agendas. From bills regulating medical treatment of minors to bills protecting opportunities for girls to compete on a level playing field in sports, the very real concerns of parents are finally being addressed.

Sexually-Explicit Content

Virtual learning during the pandemic was the ultimate in curricula transparency. When parents got a long look at what their children were learning, the great awakening of parents began. Now that in-person classes are resuming in schools across the country, parents want to maintain their oversight of a system that has taken too many ideological liberties with children’s minds. Proposed legislation to mandate that schools post information about curriculum on their websites will go a long way toward keeping parents informed about the content of their children’s education — and keeping politics out of the classroom.

An example of a parent who was tireless in her efforts to protect children comes recently from Virginia. When this mom heard from her son about the disturbing sexual content in his class reading assignments, she became an advocate for parental notification. After discussing the situation with her son’s teachers and the school administration, she decided to meet with her school board member and other school officials about establishing a county-wide policy notifying parents that a class assignment contained sexually-explicit reading material and offering parents the chance to select an alternative assignment for their child. These protections already existed in other classes, like Biology, where students with religious objections are not required to dissect insects or animals and are provided an alternative assignment.

With a county policy for parental notification in place, this mom focused her efforts on the state legislature so that every family in Virginia would enjoy the same protections she had worked for in her school system. This effort came to both statewide and national attention in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race. On the debate stage, the former governor who had twice vetoed bipartisan legislation allowing parental notification of sexually-explicit or sexually-violent content in class assignments proudly proclaimed that parents should not have a say in their children’s education. Parental rights in education became a major theme of his opponent Glenn Youngkin’s campaign and propelled him to victory.

Now, even a few Democratic Party legislators have gotten the message. A version of this parental notification legislation passed out of committee with bipartisan support. It’s expected to pass through the Democrat-controlled state senate. Other pro-parent measures have failed, but it’s great to see at least one signature campaign issue gaining hard-earned and much-deserved support. Please pray for this effort and efforts like it across the country that benefit families and children.

Whether it’s lobbying state legislators, engaging with local governing bodies, deciding to run for office, or simply talking to your children or grandchildren about what’s happening in their school day, parental engagement is the key to protecting faith, family, and freedom.

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