May 18, 2022
Parental Rights at Kids’ Expense
The parental rights movement is making a comeback. “Parental” might imply that kids’ needs are at the center. But as Jaclyn Friedman writes, the last thing these so-called parental advocates want is for kids to have actual power.
Parental advocates are asking for government interventions to “protect” kids, particularly in the realm of education. That said, the rallying cry here isn’t tied to, say, the right to get information from teachers or the right to opt kids out of certain school activities. It instead centers on the supposed right to control the curriculum for public schools.
These “advocates” are agitating to make it illegal for kids to acknowledge that they or their parents are LGBTQ+. Their relentless attempts to ignore U.S. history violate the “rights of parents of color to make sure their kids, and their kid’s peers, learn their own history.” They support active efforts to ban books. A recent report found that, since summer 2021, over 1,140 different books have been banned or faced being banned from libraries and classrooms. Just the other week, Florida’s Department of Education banned dozens of math textbooks because they “contained prohibited topics” from social-emotional learning to information about racism.
We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation are appalled at the burgeoning parental rights movement and its blatant disregard for the wellbeing of kids. We know that kids have rights, and that includes the right to knowledge: to know the true nature of our past and present, to know about sex and sexuality and gender, to access critical information about the world around them and how they might view themselves in it. Kids deserve and should have opportunities to grow socially and emotionally in school. They deserve and should have opportunities to reckon with the racism that permeates their everyday lives. For kids to exercise their sexual freedom as adults—among their many other freedoms—they deserve to access public education that ctually teaches them to search for truths rather than a curriculum designed to ignore the very reality of their lives, histories, communities, and identities.