Parental Authority

VA Health Boards are Literally Banning the Gospel

The Virginia Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work have recently decided to wage an unprovoked war with the object of destroying not only basic human biology and the rights of Christian professionals in these fields, but in fact the very message of the Gospel itself.

Seeking to use the coercive power of the state to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” these health boards are on a zealous pursuit to punish any licensed counselor, psychologist, or social worker merely for speaking with a minor client with the aim of helping them to reduce or eliminate unwanted feelings of same-sex sexual attractions or gender dysphoria. In other words – for aiding a young person, in a culture of unprecedented confusion, to recognize and embrace their personhood as God designed – a fully, biological, immutable, unmistakable male or female with a complementarian sexual nature and body. 

These McAuliffe-Northam appointed Boards have now made it their official position to condemn “conversion therapy” because (citing the American Counseling Association) “it does not work, can cause harm, and violates our Code of Ethics.” In doing so, they reprehensibly ignore – and even deny the very existence of – countless individuals who through counseling have found healing and transformation from their LGBTQ-defined past. Not only is change and wholeness possible for people seeking to overcome those very real feelings, but many who obtain therapy go on to lead far healthier and happier lives. That’s according to their own personal testimonies – read some of them at CHANGED, Fearless Identity Inc., and Freedom March

In spite of this undeniable proof, these Boards actually maintain that giving professional guidance to a confused and developing child towards accepting the biological realities of their unchangeable sex is categorically HARMFUL to the child! Despite having received a combined total of zero client complaints ever from this therapy, these Boards are nevertheless going out of their way to ensure that any licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or social worker who dares to assist a child in this way will face losing their state-issued license to practice altogether.

Now consider that, according to a recent Gallup poll, a full 75% of Americans self-identify as Christian. The basic message and belief of the Christian faith, boiled down to its essence is that, while every person is affected by, even enslaved to, and spiritually dead in their sinful state, God stepped in and made a way for us to be made holy and new. Through faith in His son Jesus, God makes us spiritually alive with a new nature subservient to His will for us, and no longer captives to our old inclinations or ways of thinking. That, in a nutshell, is what Christians call “the gospel.” (Gospel means “good news.”)

Yet these Boards’ new position stands in direct opposition to the central claim of the gospel, which Christians recognize as the great – and only – hope for mankind. With these policies, the Boards are actually preaching a false ‘anti-Gospel’ message to every child struggling with sexual hurt, confusion, and brokenness that:  a) There is nothing wrong with them, b) That they cannot possibly be healed, and that there is no hope for a renewed mind no matter how much they may desire it, and c) The real sin would be to seek to mend what they recognize as broken inside of them. The Apostle Paul preached just the opposite:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Note the pivotal phrase in that passage: “And such WERE some of you.” That is to say, some of them used to be characterized, controlled, or defined by those old passions and habits (including homosexuality, which was very culturally acceptable at that time), but not anymore! For those who had experienced the transformational power of the “good news” of Jesus, they were gone. As Paul reminded them, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Romans 12:2 offers further evidence of the same message: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Whether or not these Boards comprehend that they are targeting and rejecting the very essence of the Christian faith, it doesn’t change the direct impact on Christian professionals’ resulting inability to incorporate the transformational power of the Gospel into their therapy for many who need it and are desperately seeking it. Their policies effectively guarantee that countless struggling and confused children will not be able to receive that guidance from a licensed professional, making it that much more difficult for them to thrive in the body in which they were created – and at the most critical developmental time in their life for those struggles to be addressed and resolved.

Hence, for Virginia’s health regulatory Boards to ban “Conversion Therapy” is for the government to officially deny the validity and power of the Christian Gospel to transform hearts, minds and lives, AND to deny licensed professionals, by threat of force, their fundamental right to share this Gospel with clients who are open to, and even seeking it.

If the Boards are successful in their attempt to do this, it would certainly mark the beginning of a new era in our civil and political landscape. And if somehow they prevail, and the courts do not correct their error, let us pray that those licensed professionals who have themselves experienced the transformative power of the gospel will have the courage to say to those in authority, just as the Apostle Peter did in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Stafford School Board Ignores Parents’ Concerns

Late last night, just after midnight in a still-packed room, after four hours of public comments from over 100 speakers, the Stafford County School Board narrowly voted 4 - 3 to approve two nondiscrimination policies that elevate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a special protected class, ignoring the cries of an overwhelming number of concerned parents in attendance.  The policies give the district’s Superintendent virtually unlimited latitude to interpret and implement them as he sees fit  - including the use of bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities - without any control or approval by the Board.

Adding insult to injury, the Board voted 4-3 against a motion to allow the Board’s legal Memo from their attorney to be made available to the public for the sake of transparency. The four members clearly have something they don’t want the public to know, since the Chairwoman revealed that she was voting against the policy because she agreed with the legal advice the Board was given!

Our Policy team, Todd Gathje and Josh Hetzler, attended the meeting, along with many dozens of parents and allies in the fight against these dangerously misguided policies, and spoke to both the policy and legal consequences they will bring.

2019-9-10 Josh and Todd at Stafford.png.jpg

You can watch the entire recorded meeting HERE and read the policies for yourself at the following links:

Proposed New Policy 2420 (Student Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Education Opportunity). 

Proposed Revisions to Policy 4107 (Human Resources Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti-Retaliation).

Over and over again proponents of the policies, including some Board members, claimed that they had NOTHING to do with bathrooms or locker rooms.  And yet, they cited as their primary justification for the policy just one isolated incident last year involving a female student claiming to be “transgender” who was left in the hallway during an emergency drill instead of in the sex-segregated locker rooms with the other students.  If these policies aren’t about allowing students and staff into opposite-sex bathrooms, showers, and changing areas, what are they about?  After all, they already have policies prohibiting bullying and harassment of any student.

Of course, this has everything to do with bathrooms, access to locker rooms, and changing facilities!  In fact Gavin Grimm, the female student from Gloucester County at the center of a major court case involving access to bathrooms, who also spoke last night, explained in an interview that transgender students don’t deserve the stigmatism of having to use single occupant bathrooms.

The School Superintendent, who has every intention of taking this as far as possible, will now be able to establish onerous guidelines for all students, teachers and administrators to follow within every context of the public schools, with very little oversight by the Board.

These policies have opened the door for every student to have unrestricted access to all sex-specific facilities - including locker rooms, showers, or bathrooms of the opposite biological sex - so long as the student merely claims to identify as that sex.  This violates every student’s fundamental, constitutionally protected, right to bodily privacy and will force them into situations that make them feel uncomfortable or fearful.  In addition to concerns about privacy, these policies will compel students, teachers and administrators to use phrases or pronouns that conflict with their beliefs about the biological realities of males and females, or be reprimanded by the school. Many of the parents alluded of former West Point High School teacher, Peter Vlaming, who was recently fired for this very reason after that school board passed a similar policy.

All of this will happen notwithstanding the clear and vocal opposition of parents, who see their fundamental right to control their children’s education and upbringing being eroded and their children now being put in danger by people who might abuse the policies for wrong purposes.

What happened in Stafford last night could be coming to your county, as many school boards have been watching closely to decide whether to consider similar policies.  While we are saddened and outraged by what transpired last night, we will not stop fighting these horrible policies that work to destroy the very fabric of our society.

To all the parents, students, pastors, and concerned citizens in Stafford who submitted comments or spoke out last night, thank you for engaging in this critical battle! As long as this policy stands, this fight is not over.

Important Back-to-School Reminders!

For many families across Virginia, this week marks the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  It’s exciting for parents to watch their kids begin a new grade level filled with all kinds of hopes and expectations.

In the midst of all the excitement, however, it’s critical that parents remain mindful of several issues that they and their children will encounter.  More each year it seems parents are bombarded with a host of policies that conflict with their family’s values or religious convictions, so it’s all the more important that you are aware of what these policies are in your school district.

Below are a few significant school policies that you should be aware of as your child enters this new school year.

1.      Family Life Education Opt-Out – At the start of each school year, parents have the opportunity and the legal right to review the school’s family life education (FLE) curriculum (i.e. “Sex Ed”) and decide if they want to “opt-out” their child from participating in this instruction.  FLE topics can be quite sensitive, and often include explicit sexual and graphic content. If you wish to opt your child out of FLE, make sure to get your school’s Opt-Out form, fill it out, sign it, and send it in. To find out what is being taught, look on the school district’s website or contact the school.

2.      Anti-bullying/Suicide content review Beginning this school year, parents now have the right to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools.  And just like with FLE, parents have the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.  Don’t forget to inquire about any anti-bullying/suicide content at your child’s school this year!

3.      Immunization requirements – Every school year, the list of public school immunization requirements seems to grow, and with that comes more chances for them to conflict with parental preferences.  Currently, a student attending a Virginia public school is required to have the immunizations listed on the Department of Health’s website here. However, not all vaccines are required, such as the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV). (For more information about this, please read the Focus on the Family statement here.) Additionally, the state Code provides for a religious exemption from ALL vaccines for students whose parents submit an affidavit to the school stating that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the student's religious tenets or practices. 

4.      Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policies – Are you aware of any “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) policies at your child’s school?  Does the possibility of a student of the opposite sex entering the bathroom or changing room with your child concern you?  Some school boards around Virginia have been implementing extreme nondiscrimination policies for students and staff by adding special (SOGI) protections.  In order to protect the safety and dignity or your child, it’s important that you are aware of any such SOGI policies that have been adopted by your local school board and how they impact your child.

These reminders are not meant to overwhelm you or diminish the excitement of the new school year, but rather to encourage you to remain active in your child’s school.  Our public schools should never be used as a laboratory for social engineering or become a place that is constantly challenging the rights of parents to direct the education or welfare of their children. They should be a safe place for students to enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow, develop long-lasting friendships, enjoy fun extra-curricular activities and prepare for their future, without all of the drama induced by radical ideologies.

We hope that all parents and children have a wonderful and successful 2019-2020 school year!   

These Important State Laws Take Effect Today

Every year on July 1st, hundreds of new changes to Virginia’s laws officially go into effect. Here’s a few The Family Foundation fought hard for and against that you may want to know:

TFF Supported

  • More educational options for parents and kids through expansion of the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program (EISTC).The program has been a huge success in recent years and continues to enable more children in families who cannot otherwise afford private education to receive a private scholarship to use towards a qualifying private school. SB 1015 (R-Stanley) expanded this flagship school choice initiative to include pre-kindergarten.

  • More parental oversight and involvement regarding sensitive materials in public schools. HB 2107 (R-Ransone) provides parents the opportunity to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools, and the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.

  • More protection for property rights in eminent domain situations. SB 1256 (R-Ruff) creates an income tax subtraction for gain recognized by a taxpayer from a government’s taking of real property. Landowners should not have their property taken, only to be slapped with a new tax liability.

  • More parental authority regarding the delegation of temporary custody. HB 2542 (R-Byron) allows a parent or legal custodian of a minor to delegate temporary custody in limited circumstances for up to 180 days, with the assistance of a private organization, without government intrusion.

TFF Opposed

  • Expansion of assisted conception through surrogacy laws to remove any biological significance for parenthood. HB 1979 (D-Sullivan) allows non-married individuals with no biological connection to an embryo to contract with a surrogate mother to birth a baby for them. The negative consequences of this bill range from children growing up without any knowledge of one or both biological parents, no protections against “selective reduction” abortions, and no limitations on the proliferation of new lab-created human embryos. This recent article from The Federalist also gets at the fundamental problems with this kind of policy.

To see the full list of laws taking effect today, click here.

Religious Liberty On the Line!

The federal “Equality Act” (H.R. 5) is moving through the House of Representatives at warp speed, and is scheduled to be voted on this week!

CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act.   

You can read more about the devastating impacts of the bill here on our blog, or watch this video with testimonials of people whose lives have been wrecked by similar state laws.

Last week I told you that this bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of federal legislation that I have seen in my lifetime, a comment that I do not make flippantly. And the more we learn about the potential impact of this legislation, the more my concerns grow.

The bill’s threats to religious liberty, free speech, churches and faith-based hospitals are well-established, but we are learning more about how this bill will actually cause greater harm to people.  According to Dr. Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician and executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, H.R. 5 would force physicians to prescribe toxic hormones and drugs for adults and even children that can produce severe side effects, or even to perform serious medical procedures, all to “change” a person’s physical features to conform to their self-prescribed gender identity.

The so-called Equality Act would eliminate all parental authority related to the training and well-being of their children by prohibiting parents from ever interfering with a child’s access to transgender medical procedures.  Sadly, this is no longer a hypothetical. Recently, parents in Ohio, which has a similar state law, had their parental rights terminated for failing to approve puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for their adolescent child.

We’ve learned that the so-called Equality Act would also provide that “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” cannot be treated any differently than other physical conditions.  This means all restrictions to abortion would be torn down, and anybody or any group who doesn’t want to fund or commit an abortion at any stage will be subject to punishment.

The reality is that this type of radical legislation has already permeated many state legislatures, and now the House is applying a full-court press to pass the so-called Equality Act at the federal level. 

We cannot allow the government to push people with strong religious convictions into compromising their beliefs, or to usurp the prerogatives – and constitutional rights – of parents to guide the education and health of their children.

CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act.  You can also reach your Congressman and Senators at (202) 224-3121.  Don’t wait, the House plans to vote on this bill this week!

HUGE Response In Defense of Faith-Based Counselors!

We recently alerted our supporters that faith-based counselors are under attack in Virginia. I asked for your help to push back against this targeted ideological bigotry by submitting a comment on the Town Hall website addressing the Board of Counseling’s proposed Guidance Document that seeks to punish licensed counselors simply for affirming biological realities and instilling a healthy sexual outlook in children. 

Nearly 600 commenters weighed in, including many Family Foundation supporters. And we were thrilled to see that, as of the close of the comment period last Wednesday, we estimate that around 75% of the comments condemned the Board’s efforts to silence counselors and deny children access to the critical counseling services they need in order to work through unwanted struggles and confusion in their sexuality. 

Thank you to all of you who took the time to weigh in and stand up for counselors and children in Virginia. In doing so, you helped advance the cause of free speech, religious liberty, parental rights, patient autonomy, and truth itself. 

Now the Board will have to provide some form of written response to all of the comments. Whatever the Board of Counseling ultimately decides to do, they will at least have to contend with and answer to hundreds of compelling comments as to why they should not – and by law, cannot – implement this policy. 

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next. Thank you for your valuable help on this!

They Taught Kindergarteners What?

They Taught Kindergarteners What?

There is much we could say about all this, but we think all of this sufficiently speaks for itself. Be assured that we will continue to closely watch, unveil, and call out these increasingly frequent attempts to indoctrinate children into these destructive ideologies. And if you learn of something happening in your locality, please let us know so that we can address it. We all must be more vigilant than ever.

Action Alert: Proposed Regulations to Punish and Silence Faith-Based Counselors

Since the radical Left has tried and failed year after year in the legislature to silence counselors from sharing with clients the self-evident realities of human identity and sexuality, the current administration is now eyeing an alternative path to accomplish this censorship: administrative regulations. The state Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work have now begun the process of adopting Guidance Documents and full-scale regulations to stifle licensed professionals’ free speech rights, with the direct consequence of denying patients their basic right to direct the objectives of the counseling they seek. 

ACTIONClick HERE to enter a comment on the townhall.gov website, and tell the VA Board of Counseling not to punish licensed counselors for helping patients overcome their unwanted sexual feelings by affirming biological realities concerning male and female. (Click on “Enter a comment”) 

To learn more about the context of the issue, read our blogs about it here and here

The public comment period to weigh in on this ideologically-driven movement officially begins today and will end on 4/17/19. The Board of Counseling members need to hear from the public about why this action would be wrong, dangerous, and unconstitutional

The health regulatory boards have labeled the practice of helping someone overcome unwanted same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria as “conversion therapy,” when in reality it should more rightly be characterized as “Biological Affirmation Counseling.” Notice how extreme the Board’s definition of “conversion therapy” is in its draft Guidance Document and how much of an obvious double standard it sets up: 

“For the purposes of this guidance ‘conversion therapy’ … is defined as any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of any gender.” 

BUT THEN, the Board continues… 

“’Conversion therapy’ does not include counseling that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender transition or counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual-orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as such counseling does not seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity in any direction.” 

In other words, counselors are ALLOWED to help a minor client to explore and facilitate same-sex feelings, attractions and behaviors, or even to “change” their sex altogether, but they are strictly PROHIBITED from helping a minor client struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions from developing a natural and Biblical sexual ethic, or aiding a child dealing with gender dysphoria in learning to embrace his or her biological status as either male or female. So, children can change in one direction, but not the other. 

The Board’s “guidance” to counselors is clear and simple: If you hold to the natural, biological, historical and/or Biblical understanding of human sexuality, be prepared to lose your professional license. 

We cannot stand idly by and let this happen. Please CLICK HERE to leave your comment to the Board of Counseling!

A Tragic Loss for Life and Family

On Wednesday, by a vote of 63-36 the House of Delegates, unfortunately, agreed to the Senate’s nominally-amended version of HB 1979 (D-48, Sullivan). (The Senate passed it 28-12.) The bill will now make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Make no mistake, this legislation will bring a dramatic and harmful policy shift concerning the creation and treatment of human life, the rights of children, the basis for parenthood, the significance of marriage, and the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. Despite the numerous victories so far this session, the passage of HB 1979 is of profound damage to the family. 

Some have called this bill "pro-life" because it will now allow single people and same-sex couples to contract with a surrogate mother to implant one or more of the one million "snowflake babies," which have been created in labs and are currently frozen. But those same legislators completely disregarded the obvious incentives this bill creates, which will only lead to countless more human embryos being created in labs, frozen, and left to languish. While we, too, want existing human embryos to have the opportunity to fully develop, this bill will only ensure this problem is multiplied. 

Another reason this bill cannot be pro-life is because it allows surrogacy contracts to include forced abortions, including “selective reductions,” which is the horrific practice of killing some of the babies in the womb, while leaving one or more alive. Some contracts also allow the intended parents to be able to require abortion of the child(ren) if the child appears to have a disability, or simply if they change their minds about wanting the child. This is commonplace in surrogacy contracts, and current Virginia law does not prohibit these types of agreements. This bill will greatly expand the number of surrogacy contracts, but without doing anything to protect against forced abortions at the demands of the “intended parents.” 

For the first time, this bill would sever the biological connection between a child and his or her parents before the child is ever born. Current law requires at least one parent to be a genetic parent of the child who is being intentionally created through assisted conception. This bill allows for there to be no genetic connection at all, replacing the legal basis for parenthood with a mere contract among willing adults, which effectively flips the current custodial paradigm of “best interests of the child” to one of merely the desires and intentions of any adult. 

Tragically, this bill, for the first time, allows for a child to be intentionally and permanently deprived of either a mother or a father before they are even born, and for the entirety of their life. (The bill removed all the references to “father”, “mother”, “husband” and “wife”.) Yet every person innately understands the value of having both a mother and father, and those who grow up without either a mother or a father tend to have a deep longing to have and to know them. Since the bill now allows single and non-married persons to contract with someone to produce a child for them through surrogacy simply because they want one, this Commonwealth has just declared that when it comes to bringing children into the world, married homes are no more preferred than single-parent homes. 

While the outcome is incredibly disappointing, we witnessed throughout the process incredible courage on the part of some legislators who did not succumb to the outside pressures to support this bill.  We want to especially thank Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33, Hamilton) for his commitment to protecting unborn life and speaking on the House floor in opposition to HB 1979 several times, including his great floor speech yesterday. Watch it HERE

HB 1979 is a clear illustration of the lengths that the Left (and now, even some on the Right) will go to in order to redefine the family by stripping away the biological connections between parents and children and to protect the barbaric practice of selective reduction and abortion. 

Please pray for us as we continue to fight against these dangerous anti-life and anti-family policies. 

Opt-Outs are Unreliable: Part 2

Opt-Outs are Unreliable: Part 2

Instead of exercising the discretion afforded by the County’s policies, the teacher decided  to eliminate all religious themed music from the production because parents of students simply did not find the opt-out accommodation adequate.  That means that students who wanted to sing songs containing religious overtones were denied that opportunity.

What happened at Robious Middle School actually rendered the opt-out policy null and void.

Opt-outs are Unreliable: Part 1

Opt-outs are Unreliable: Part 1

The Family Foundation has consistently argued that opt-out policies fail to provide parents a reliable means for ensuring that their children are excused from school activities and curriculum that conflict with their worldview without the potential for ridicule, embarrassment, or unwarranted questions.   

Consider opt-out accommodations for family life education (FLE). We have long articulated that parents have the primary responsibility of teaching their children values and morals about human sexuality, not school administrators.  However, opt-out policies give the false impression that the school is the best environment for teaching on this subject, and that parents can only exercise their parental authority by electing to excuse their child from such sensitive FLE instruction.  Further, opt-out options only subject students to embarrassment and ridicule by having them leave the classroom, in front of their peers, before FLE instruction begins.

Parents: Get Involved In School

Parents: Get Involved In School

Is your school district being directed by the influence of the VCIC and the ADL with respect to the LGBTQ agenda? Would you rather have that influence?

You can be a guardian for school children. You can be the voice of reason in the school system. Contact your local school district to find out ways that you can volunteer either with a Diversity Committee (like in Henrico) or another committee that makes decisions about what children are taught about sexuality and gender.

What is Being Taught in Your School?

What is Being Taught in Your School?

Here in Virginia, school districts across the Commonwealth have been dragging their feet when asked to provide parents the Family Life Education curriculum taught to their young children. Parents in Loudoun County were refused access to the full curriculum, and told that they could only review it all during a three day review session coming up in late August – after school has begun.

FLE Opt-In Wins in Indiana

Virginia’s public school Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum has been taking hits recently.  In Fairfax County, changes were made to the curriculum - including statements that sex is assigned at birth, not a biological fact (language lauded by some as more inclusive and accepting of all students who walk the halls of the Fairfax schools).  Many parents worry that such language, aside from being scientifically incorrect, will confuse children; other parents say it will liberate them.

There is now a statewide push to make FLE “opt-in” rather than “opt-out.”  Currently, parents can opt their child out of FLE if they are able to locate the proper form, fill it out, and send it to their child’s school.  Many – perhaps even most – parents are unaware of this possibility, and even fewer know what is being taught in the classrooms; they do not realize there is any reason to consider opting their child out at all.  The opt-in route might require a bit more paperwork, but it would certainly make it easier for parents to make the decision if they know about the choice up front.  One woman I spoke with aptly rephrased “opt-in” as “ask parent’s permission” before teaching FLE to their child.

Opt-in just won in the state of Indiana.  On July 1 of this year, the Indiana Senate Enrolled Act 65 was signed into law, making it illegal for public schools to teach FLE to students without prior written consent from parents.  One article that is not fond of the new law remarked: “Leave it to Indiana to require permission slips before students can receive an education.”  This is not an issue of just any kind of education, though.  No one is protesting children being taught math or geography.  This is about the impressionability of young children and their exposure to things their parents should decide are appropriate or not for them to learn (at their current age or at all).  As the foremost educators of their child, parents have the right to know what is being taught in the FLE program and the right to choose whether or not they deem it appropriate for their child.  Schools already must obtain written permission before a child can attend a field trip, play on a sports team, or participate in band.  As Senator Dennis Kruse, author of the Indiana bill, stated: “if anything needed an opt-in parental consent… it’s human sexuality study.”

Virginia should take heart and follow Indiana.  We ought to value the minds and lives of our school children enough to ensure similar protections for them.  And we ought to have the good sense to recognize that when it comes to children and such sensitive matters as sexuality, parents are a far better and more appropriate judge than the state.

The Family Foundation is collecting signatures on a petition calling for the General Assembly to make Virginia’s FLE “opt-in,” requiring schools to get parental permission before exposing children to sex ed.  You can add your name to the petition online right now.  Click here to sign the petition.

By Jordan Hodge

Jordan is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a graduate of Northeast Catholic College.

School Board Votes Against Science

School Board Votes Against Science

Last night I was at the Fairfax County Public School Board meeting at the Luther Jackson Middle School. The room was packed with people wearing pink, purple, or green.

Those wearing pink and purple supported making changes to the Family Life Education such as using the ideologically charged term “sex assigned at birth” in place of the scientifically accurate term, “biological sex.”

Fairfax FLE Changes are "an Insult"

Fairfax FLE Changes are "an Insult"

Bishop Burbridge, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic dioceses over Fairfax, said that it is “a great insult that our clergy who give their lives to serving young people and helping them do what is good and right might be removed from a list of someone who can be trusted. I take that as a personal insult.” He said, urging everyone in Fairfax to take action and contact the School Board. Hundreds have done so.

"No Pre-K for low-income families"

Monday morning, the House Finance Committee defeated SB 172, a bill that would have made it possible for thousands of low-income families to send their children to private school Pre-K, many of which are faith-based programs. The bill, patroned by Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Moneta) created a tax credit for donations made to a scholarship fund to pay for private tuition for families who cannot otherwise afford it, but who want a different option for their children. Unfortunately, the bill died on an 11-11 vote, with the public school teachers union and other public education monopoly establishment groups bringing considerable pressure to bear on certain delegates to vote no.

It was a party line vote with three exceptions. Two Republicans – Tim Hugo (R-40, Centreville) and Robert Bloxom, Jr. (R-100, Mappsville) – sided with the union over struggling families, while Democrat Delegate Steve Heretick (D-79, Portsmouth) voted for the bill.

CLICK HERE to watch the committee’s deliberations (then advance the video to 9:00 am to see Senator Stanley propose SB 172).

Compare the testimony: A broad array of accomplished, non-partisan organizations that actually do work in the field spoke in favor of the bill and worked diligently over the last two weeks to find 12 yes votes. On the other side was the Virginia Education Association, which spends considerable money every campaign on behalf of Democrat candidates, as well as the politicized School Boards Association.

The VEA, which has no actual role in Pre-K education – its members are K-12 teachers – much less in private Pre-K schools, made several false charges including the preposterous accusation that private schools discriminate in student enrollment and hiring. That came as news to two witnesses in favor of the bill: James Dyke, former Governor Doug Wilder’s education secretary, who also is African-American, as well as an African-American pastor who runs a Pre-K program in the middle of the most crime ridden sections in the city of Richmond. At its own expense, that school admits students from families who cannot afford its already modest tuition at a heavy discount. In fact, these scholarships can only be used at accredited institutions, which must already adhere to state and federal nondiscrimination laws.

Also in favor of the bill was the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, which cited the state’s own School Readiness Commission that recommends a program like this; the Virginia Catholic Conference; Jewish school educators; Chris Braunlich of the Thomas Jefferson Institute and former president of the State Board of Education; the Virginia Council for Private Education; as well as The Family Foundation. In addition, this bill won a large bipartisan vote in the Senate, including that chamber’s Democrat leader, Senator Richard Saslaw (D-35, Springfield). Yet House Democrats made it a partisan issue as a payback to its public education monopoly allies.

One of the most puzzling comments came from Delegate Vivian Watts (D-39, Annandale), who incredibly said that while she recognizes there are families who need immediate help, she could not vote for the bill because she wanted universal Pre-K coverage. She, the VEA, and those voting no basically said, “Let’s NOT help thousands of at-risk children now while we can, because it’s not government run, and instead let them slip through the cracks.” 

We thank Senator Stanley and the committee members who voted yes and actively refuted the VEA’s assertions, as well as our coalition partners. Rest assured, this is an issue that's not going away. We will see to it. Parents need more choices in education, not a one-size-fits all approach.