Whose Children? Challenges to Parental Rights Multiply


Earlier this month, New Jersey became the latest state to institute a policy threatening parental rights — adding to a growing nationwide hostility to the already fragile institution of the family.

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) recently amended their existing anti-discrimination policy with the “Transgender Student Guidance for School Districts.” The guidance, among other things, instructs schools to use the preferred pronouns and names of students without the permission, or even awareness, of students’ parents. In order to manage this policy, schools are keeping two separate files for students: one with students’ birth names and genders which parents can see, and another with school documents which are to use students’ new preferred identities.

This all adds up to a policy of “what happens at school, stays at school,” so that children may go by different names, wear different clothing, and use different restrooms than their parents may be led to believe. And to make matters worse, the process of writing and implementing the new policy excluded parents, increasing the sentiment that schools are trying to undermine them.

Unfortunately, New Jersey is far from the only state where such policies are being implemented, to the detriment of both parents and their children. Consider the case of Pascha Thomas in Georgia, for example, whose daughter came home from kindergarten one day last November and told Thomas that a male classmate had followed her into the girl’s bathroom — taking advantage of the school’s expansive gender guidelines — and sexually assaulted her. The school district responded by denying that the incident happened, maintaining its bathroom policy, and keeping the male student in the same classroom as the girl he assaulted. Then, they sent CPS after Thomas.

And to find an even more alarming related development, one need only look north to Canada, where a proposed policy change at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) would place a child’s wish to be euthanized under a new privacy protocol. Under this protocol, it is possible that parents would not be notified of their child’s request for euthanasia until after death has already been administered — a chilling scenario which is fortunately now receiving pushback.

However, while the situation in Canada may seem like a dramatic jump from the one in the United States, the gradual process which led the Toronto Sick Kids hospital to consider this policy is also clearly under way here. For example, prior to Sick Kids’ policy update, children were allowed to refuse “burdensome treatment” without parental consent. In the context of the current practice, it is easy to see the slippery slope to pediatric euthanasia without consent — even from policies such as those being implemented in New Jersey.

Based on these developments, it seems clear that the strength of parental rights is under serious threats from changes being pushed under the guise of children’s autonomy. Parents must prepare to stand firm against the pressure to concede to these ferocious threats and do that which they — not schools, hospitals, or governments — do best: parent.

Reagan Cool

Reagan Cool works for the American Principles Project.

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