Protecting Your Child’s Heart At School
With all the headlines in the news about parents’ rights being undermined and sexualized messages being promoted to children in classrooms–and in the culture–it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You might feel alone, or be wondering where to start to learn what’s happening in your neighborhood schools. The good news is, you’re not alone. Here at Focus on the Family, we’ve compiled lots of easy-to-use resources and tips to empower you. Here are three simple steps to get started:
1) Check out your school website: One of the easiest ways you can start researching what’s happening in your school, is to spend some time on its online website.
- Nowadays, most schools have online library catalogues for all grade levels, and you can use key words to search the content in the database. The school library is an important indicator of what’s happening in the rest of the school because, technically, the library is supposed to reflect and support the larger school curriculum. Teachers often draw from the library to supplement lesson plans. So if you see an unusual number of sexually explicit books or content that promotes homosexuality or transgenderism popping up in the search list, that’s a strong indicator that you might want to start asking more questions about if and how these materials are used in classrooms or for student assignments.
- What if you want to learn more specifics about curriculum? Many school websites have something similar to a “Curriculum and Instruction” category listed under the “Departments” heading. That’s a good place to start. You can look for certain flag words or titles which have a likelihood of having sexuality or “diversity” themes incorporated into the program.
- Here are a few words that can help alert you to programs that may deal with controversial relationship, marriage and sexuality issues:
- “family diversity” or “gender diversity”
- “social justice” or “tolerance”
- “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”
- “safe schools”
While not all instruction categorized as “tolerance” or “safe schools ” is necessarily questionable, it’s important to be aware that controversial topics are often couched within programs using these titles without parents being notified. So it’s a good idea to start asking questions when these words crop up on your school’s website. You can also do a search for other topics that concern you as a parent, such lessons about “pregnancy prevention” that could include the promotion of abortion.
- You may have heard about the disturbing trend of school boards implementing sexuality or transgender guidelines without informing parents. Want to get up to speed on the policies your school board is promoting? Click on the “school board” section of your school district’s website and examine the board agenda and minutes, again doing a search for key words, such as “diversity” or “tolerance.”
- Also, take a few minutes to review your child’s school handbook and online policies. Does the school require parental permission before giving instruction on sexuality and other sensitive topics? Or is the school only required to send a “notification” letter home? What are the policies for opting your child out of controversial subjects?
2) Research your rights. If you see something of concern and decide it’s time to start asking questions, it’s a good idea to learn in advance what your state and local policies are on parental rights. A good way to get started is to connect with a local family-values ministry that may have this information at their fingertips. Many states have “family policy councils,” which are organizations associated with Focus on the Family that research state and local policies. To see if there is a family policy council in your area, click here. In general, as a parent, you have the right to ask to see lesson plans and materials being used in your child’s classroom. You’ll also want to ask whether videos or other materials are being used to supplement the regular curriculum. Although they may not be listed as an official part of the curriculum sometimes, unbeknownst to parents, videos promoting controversial topics or displaying graphic images can find their way into the classrooms.
3) Take action with positive solutions. Be confident and firm in your right as a parent or legal guardian to protect your children and supervise their education. At the same time, it’s crucial to present your case in a respectful and fact-based manner. The truth is, actions do speak louder than words. If your style or tone is abrasive, the truth you are trying to communicate will not be heard or remembered for the right reasons. So be prepared as much as possible with positive solutions, like the model school policies provided on TrueTolerance.org or suggestions for what the school can do to remedy the problem—such as including parents on book and curriculum review committees or ways to strengthen parents’ rights to opt their children out of lessons on controversial topics.
Most importantly, remember that you—as a parent and a taxpaying, community citizen—have a constitutional right, as well as a God-given responsibility, to protect your children. (Check out Proverbs 22:6 and Deuteronomy 6:6-7.) So let the facts on TrueTolerance.org inspire you with the confidence you need to stay involved in your children’s education!