Kids Take Center Stage at General Assembly

Yesterday, a Senate Education and Health subcommittee voted 4-2 to “pass by indefinitely” (translated: vote down) two bills which would ban sexual identity counseling for minors unless that counseling that “provides acceptance and support,” including “sexual orientation neutral” advice.  The bills, SB 262 (Surovell, D-36) and SB 267 (Dance, D-16) would have prohibited any licensed counselor from counseling a minor in a way that helps them overcome unwanted same-sex attractions or gender identity disorder. Supporters of these bills alleged that such counseling is “child abuse” and even “torture.”

Interestingly enough, the bill specifically permitted counseling for children in a way which encourages and affirms the child’s unwanted feelings and sexual attractions. The message is clear: a minor must not –  even if it’s their choice – be able to seek help to reconcile his or her unwanted same-sex attractions through a licensed counselor. And taking it further, if a counselor refuses to comply, they will lose their license to practice.

The bill was in direct conflict with the Commonwealth’s law that says that parents have the fundamental right to direct their children’s upbringing. 

Testimony on each side was passionate and lasted more than an hour.  Interestingly, remarks given by someone who overcame an unwanted same-sex attraction through counseling was met with disdain and dismissal by advocates for the bill.  There is obviously no tolerance on the secular left for anyone who leaves homosexuality.

Also yesterday, House Republicans announced an education agenda that includes several school choice measures.  These proposals include improvements to the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program – the first major school choice victory in Virginia in years.  The program currently over 1,000 low-income students receiving scholarships to be able to attend the school of their choice, but we must increase the tax credit cap to increase donations.  Legislators also highlighted the charter school constitutional amendment supported by The Family Foundation that is intended to increase the number of charter schools in Virginia.  Also highlighted was legislation that would create “Education Savings Accounts,” where parents be given access to part of the funding the state would spend on their child to be used in a private school of their choice.

One cannot understate how far we’ve come in Virginia in recent years on this issue – though we have much, much farther to go!  Just a few years ago the most modest of school choice proposals couldn’t make it out of subcommittee in the House of Delegates, and now education freedom is being highlighted by House leaders as an important part of their agenda! 

These were just two highlights of another incredibly busy day at the General Assembly!  Please continue to be in prayer for our team and for legislators, and take action when we ask.

BREAKING: This afternoon, another education reform bill, the "Tebow Bill," that would allow home school high school students to try out for their local public school team passed the House 58-41.