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Supreme Court of the United States

It’s Time to Take a Stand for Parental Rights at the Legislature

By Natalie Allen posted on:
January 13, 2022

In 2021, parents created a national movement to take back control of their children’s education and upbringing.

After school districts across the country introduced radical policies that infringed on parental rights, parents stepped up and voiced their concerns loudly and clearly at school board meetings. And when Attorney General Merrick Garland directed federal law enforcement to consider actions in concert with other federal and state agencies regarding “threats” to school boards—apparently referring to parents who spoke up—parents publicly pushed back once again.

Now, parents have taken the push to protect parental rights to the courtroom. ADF attorneys are representing parents in Wisconsin and Virginia who were shut out of directing their children’s education, upbringing, and health care.

In Wisconsin, two sets of parents are challenging school district policies that allow minor students to change their name and gender pronouns at school without parental consent—even contrary to their parents’ instructions. In Virginia, five families are suing the Albemarle County School Board for enacting discriminatory policies and indoctrinating students in radical ideology.

While these cases are vital to protecting parental rights, they also highlight the lack of protections for parents and their children in many states. Consider this:

  • 39 states have no statutes that expressly define and protect parental rights.
  • 47 states do not grant parents review of learning materials and activities in advance of teaching.
  • 12 states do not allow parents to be involved in their schools' sex ed curricula.

It is clear that many states need to enact legislation to protect parental rights. Thankfully, we’re already seeing that elected officials are listening to parents and taking action. Last November, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, and earlier this month, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that parental involvement in school curricula would be a legislative priority.

With most states going into legislative sessions soon, this is the ideal time to take the momentum from last year’s parental rights movement and turn it into policy.

That’s why ADF’s Center for Legislative Advocacy is working in state legislatures across the country, advocating for legislation that ensures the government cannot infringe on fundamental parental rights.

This includes legislation that asserts the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, provides for increased transparency in curriculum, and ensures parents—not schools—are making vital health care decisions for their children.

The legislative arena provides an opportunity for parents to continue to voice their concerns about how public school systems are infringing on their fundamental rights as parents. It’s clear that last year’s movement is already inspiring elected officials to introduce legislation to protect parental rights—now it’s time for more action.

ADF stands ready to defend parental rights in the courtroom and the legislature. Will you join us?

Our legislative efforts depend on people like you. Find out how you can help move the needle.


Natalie Allen

Natalie Allen

Legislative Communications & Initiatives Coordinator

Natalie worked as a lobbyist at the Family Foundation of Virginia and a grassroots associate at Heritage Action for America before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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