Ed. Note: The following piece originally appeared at WORLD.
On the surface, Ana Paula and Artur Guimarães ended up in a legal battle because of their decision to withdraw their teenage boys from a sexuality education course that contradicts their religious beliefs. But as in America today, the fight taking place in Portugal’s education system is far deeper than a single course—it’s about whether parents have the fundamental right to know what their children are being taught, and to object if the material is indoctrinating kids instead of educating them.
Following the introduction of a new Portuguese law that mandates nationwide sex education for children, the Guimarães family made the decision to opt their sons out of the class (something they had done with their older children). But despite excellent grades, the Guimarães children were told that they could not progress to the next school year without taking the course.
The school was happy to allow the boys to move up, but Portugal’s Ministry for Education overrode the school and mandated that they redo the year. Backed into a corner by the education ministry, the family has been forced into an onerous legal fight—all because they took a stand to protect their children from ideologues.
We’ve seen this same scenario play out here in the United States and around the world: Government officials usurp the right of parents and stealthily indoctrinate children under the guise of “sexuality education.” What they’re actually doing, of course, is violating children’s dignity and deeply harming their sense of self, not to mention purposely keeping parents in the dark.
Ana Paula and Artur are set to appear in court. They have objected to the government’s course on the basis that it is ideological indoctrination that directly violates their values and beliefs. The course advances radical theories of sexuality unmoored from biological reality, holding that definitions of masculinity and femininity are “flexible” and “reversible.” Such distortions of biblical truth contravene the core principles upon which the Guimarãeses have built their family. They had no choice but to stand against unscientific absurdity masquerading as “education” in their children’s classroom.
Despite great personal cost, the couple is rooted in their Christian faith, confident in the decision to protect their children, and have the full force of the law behind them. In fact, international law clearly states that parents have the right “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.” Portugal is legally obligated to protect the fundamental rights of parents to decide what is in the best interest of their kids.
A society built upon Christian tradition, Portugal may appear to be an unlikely contender for advancing an anti-parental rights crusade. And yet, as evidenced by what has happened to the Guimarães family, the fight of our lives often comes without warning or precedent. What used to be an exercise in fundamental trust—dropping our children off at school with a hope and a prayer for the best—has erupted into a worldwide battle over who gets to decide what our children are taught on the most sensitive of matters.
Families don’t send their children off to school itching for a fight on these issues. In this case, Ana Paula and Artur put forward multiple workaround options that would have allowed their children to fulfill their requirements without being exposed to objectionable material. But this didn’t satisfy the authorities. Why? Because this isn’t about education anymore. It’s about the indoctrination of the next generation and punishing all those who dissent from the government’s preferred ideology. Why else, as happened here, would the state weaponize child protective services against the family without any evidence of neglect or abuse of any kind?
For now, while the battle unfolds in court, the Guimarães children have been allowed to advance to the next grade. A temporary injunction is all that stands between them and flagrant government overreach. The family awaits the legal ruling that will decide their academic fate.
No one would wish this ordeal on themselves, much less their children. And yet we have much to learn from the faithful witness of the Guimarães family. They see a fight far beyond their personal protection—one that is rooted in principles of the highest order. Assuming their role in the public eye with a steadfast constancy, they are holding true to their God-given mission as parents and standing in defense of children everywhere who deserve to be taught the truths of human existence with clarity and love.
After all, we know from the Bible that it isn’t just our children’s minds that are at stake, but their souls, too.