Americans are embroiled in conflicts over parental rights. On one side are progressives who believe their job, nay, their sacred duty, is to expose American public school students as young as kindergarten to “diverse” content on sexuality, gender and race. On the other side are millions of parents wondering when schools will get around to teaching kids to read, write and do basic math.
The big question is: Whose children are they, anyway? The progressives believe that by virtue of the fact that children are in public school, they belong to the public to mold (and manipulate). Other parents have a different view: where they spend their days doesn’t change the fact that at the end of those days, they still belong solely to their parents.
In the 1997 Supreme Court case Washington v. Glucksberg, the court decided that the Constitution, specifically the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, protects the fundamental right of parents to direct the care, upbringing and education of their children. Our kids don’t belong to whoever was assigned as their classroom teacher in a given year; they belong to their parents.
Recently, I attended what the parental rights group Moms for Liberty called a “townhall” in deep blue Montgomery County, Maryland, my home. The county has been ground zero for every educational controversy taking place nationwide. Recently, it was the most infamous area to bring back school masks in the fall of this year. The county is also at the center of a national controversy about school books, a recent hot-button contention between the left and right. The public school district is embroiled in a lawsuit brought by religious Muslim and Christian parents because they have removed the right for parents to opt their children out of controversial LGBT+ books in elementary school.
Put simply, the school will not allow parents to decide what their children can read. This is not a group of parents trying to dictate to other parents what’s on the library shelves or in the curriculum; they’re simply asking for the right to pull their kids out of the classroom when the teacher reads a book to kindergarteners called “Pride Puppy.” It’s not a big ask. It shouldn’t be, anyway.
Outside the townhall meeting, a small group of protesters gathered. One tweeted a photo of a man holding rainbow flags and a sign that read “We Don’t Co-Parent with Religious Fascists.” The sign was a play on the slogan of Moms for Liberty, which proclaims “We Don’t Co-Parent with the Government.” A local resident, Eric Saul, tweeted the photo of the sign with the caption, “F*** Moms for Liberty.” Cheryl Bost, the president of the Maryland State Education Association, an influential teacher union, clicked like on Saul’s tweet.
There is a line drawn: On one side, minority religious parents and conservative activists, and on the other, LGBT+ activists in power in the state and county.
Moustafa, a Muslim father in the area active in the fight to reinstate the right to opt-out, remarked about the sign, “Isn’t it interesting that those who think of themselves of progressive and tolerant take the old Islamophobic right’s sloganeering from 15 years ago? Wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
This incident reveals the true nature of the left’s so-called tolerance. Progressives using Montgomery County as a staging ground for policies they hope to export nationwide only care about religious parents insofar as they can use them. And if their faith gets too icky, they can and will be discarded.
That’s not the American way. Immigrant Muslim parents recognize that fact, and the Supreme Court also recognizes it. It’s time for progressives and school boards to realize it, too.