Do parents have a say in what schools teach their kids?
A new battle is shaping up as the federal courts increasingly rule against parental rights while state legislatures seem determined to give parents a choice
Should a Hindu foundation be allowed to finance yoga instruction in California grade schools – despite vehement parental objections? Should a student production featuring cross-dressing and gender confusion go ahead in Utah despite protests from furious parents?
Should Massachusetts teens be subjected to school assemblies in which lovemaking techniques are described in detail by a gay-rights group – even after parents have battled and lost in court for the right to pull their own children out of such sessions?
Parents have rights, say the New Hampshire, Texas and more than 40 other state legislatures. Parents have no such rights, say federal courts.
And thus a new battle seems to be shaping up as the courts increasingly rule against parental involvement in their children's education while state legislatures seem determined to give parents a veto over what their child is taught. New York’s legislature allows parents “to opt their children out of sex education classes,” writes K.J. Dell’Antonia in the New York Times. “Texas allows for the exception of students from any class or activity that ‘conflicts with a parent’s religious or moral beliefs.’ Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s law is the most far-reaching, permitting parents “to have their children opt out of anything from the teaching of evolution to the teaching of phonics.”
It was yoga that had Encinitas, California, parents up in arms.
“Should yoga sessions in public schools be subject to the same restrictions as religious ceremonies?” asks the North County Times newspaper. “A group of 60 Southern California parents thinks so – they want to pull yoga out of their school district’s curriculum.
“The yoga controversy is the latest twist on the contentious issue of anything having to do with religion in schools funded by taxpayer dollars,” notes Scott Bomboy of the National Constitution Center. “In this case, a lawyer for the parents says yoga has ties to Hinduism and that there is no place for it in the Encinitas Union School District.
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