Hillary Clinton may think it takes a village to raise your child — a village of her own choosing, of course. But Virginians think otherwise. Just prior to crossover, the House of Delegates passed a resolution affirming parental rights 64-31! This resolution, HJ 193, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown), urges Congress to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that, "the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right." In case you have not yet heard about the Parents Rights amendment, let me give you the facts (see our policy brief, here). In the United States, parents have traditionally held the right to raise their own children according to their own beliefs. This right has been upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court for 70 years. However, recent court rulings on parental rights have shown that the court is becoming divided on this critical issue. In fact, the court issued 6 different opinions in the parental rights case Troxel v. Granville (2000), with only four justices acknowledging that parental rights were protected by the Constitution.
There’s another reason to be concerned about the plight of parental rights: the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (see our preivous post and video about this). Supported by people such as President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), this treaty actually has a chance of passing. Currently, the United States and Somalia are the only countries that have not passed the treaty. If this treaty is passed, it will undermine parental rights unless the Constitution clearly says otherwise.
Delegate Pogge's resolution received enthusiastic support from both sides of the aisle in the House. However, this resolution will not become law unless it is also passed in the Virginia Senate. As many of you know, the Senate is much less receptive to family issues like this than the House of Delegates. When the bill is debated in the Senate, we will ask you to contact your Senators to urge their support of this measure.
Another parental rights effort did not meet with the same success. Several legislators this year introduced bills that would have allowed home school students to participate in public school sports programs. Unfortunately, despite the fact that their parents pay for public schools and their programs through tax dollars, home school students are treated as second-class citizens.
Delegate Rob Bell’s (R-58, Charlottesville) HB 926, which would have directed the Virginia High School League to allow homes school students eligibility, was "carried over" (see vote) until next year by the House Education Committee after a lengthy debate and opposition by the VHSL. This will give Delegate Bell the opportunity to work with the interested parties to seek a solution to the problem.