Lawmakers Set Sights on Parental Rights

A new bill in Colorado is yet another example of the erosion of parental rights.

The Colorado State Capitol at dusk.
The Colorado State Capitol at dusk. (photo: L. Chang, CC BY 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons)

A new legislative session just began here in Colorado. Most people probably don’t follow local politics too closely — I certainly don’t, or at least not very consistently — but one bill in particular has parents like me talking, and brainstorming, about how to defeat it.

HB-1032 is designed to expand comprehensive human sexuality education across the state of Colorado. Of particular concern to my own family is that the bill would eliminate the ability for charter schools to obtain waivers from the Colorado Board of Education. In other words, every single school receiving any sort of government funding will be required to present the problematic (read: explicit and contrary to our faith) material.

Only two of my children attend straight-up public schools. They have significant special needs and participate in special education programs, and so far I have been able to opt them out of what I deem to be problematic instruction. (It’s happened only once.) The vast majority of my children, however, are at a classical charter school, which does currently rely upon state waivers in order to forgo our state’s already-troublesome sex education curriculum and replace it with something more in keeping with the values and culture of the school. (Those values, incidentally, reflect a paradigm that holds to the traditional view of marriage, and sexuality in general. It turns out the state doesn’t like that. Go figure.)

So, this bill could have a direct and significant impact upon my kids’ school and, consequently, my family. While I don’t believe the school would bow to the state’s demands in the way the state is hoping — I suspect they will always give parents, at the very least, the right to opt out — I do worry about the school’s ability to continue to exist in a state so apparently hostile to parental rights when it comes to the formation of children.

As a former homeschooler, I am of course perfectly comfortable educating my children at home if push comes to shove. Which it certainly might. But the truth is that my children have benefited quite a bit from their time at this gem of a school, and I’d really hate to lose it. The teachers and administrators are fantastic. The curriculum is outstanding. Plus, my kids enjoy it, and they are receiving a top-notch education, tuition-free, in a positive environment alongside many wonderful Catholic students. (The Catholic club, for example, is a fantastic social outlet for my high schooler.)

And bottom line, regardless what I personally choose for my kids — even if we do end up homeschooling again someday in the future — what the state of Colorado is attempting to do here is wrong, wrong, wrong. No, it is not okay to deliver progressive transgender ideology to students without the requirement of parental notification and consent. No, it is not okay to promote things like abortion and contraception, while deliberately avoiding a focus on abstinence. Plus, it is completely naive to think that this bill won’t at least pave the way for additional restrictions on homeschoolers.

The fight for homeschooling rights has historically been pretty ugly here in Colorado. HB-1032 is yet another example of the erosion of parental rights. For now this might appear to be about public and charter schools receiving government funds, but don’t believe that they won’t be coming for homeschoolers next.

God desires that parents be the primary educators of their children. This is good for kids, good for families, and good for society. So when the government attempts to disrupt this natural order of things, it is vitally important for citizens to organize, rise up and take a stand for truth. You may not live in my state, but we can all recognize the dangers here. We can all see the great need for parents to be aware of what’s happening around our nation, to be having age-appropriate (but honest!) conversations with our children about sexuality and the culture, and to continue relying upon prayer and the Sacraments.

The reality is that God calls us parents to cast the vision for what amounts to a good life and to shepherd our children towards that life. But many in our culture would like nothing more than to destroy your child’s shot at that life, and to destroy your child’s soul. I for one plan to do what I can to keep that from happening.