By Kimberly Ross
The last few years have underscored the power of parental rights. Conservatives have always highlighted the importance of deferring to parents rather than the state. This will continue. And the passion that is propelling change could bring electoral victory to the GOP in 2022 and beyond.
In school districts all across the nation, conflicts have emerged as to whether young children should be masked, and for how long. At the start of this year, even left-leaning sites such as the Atlantic were questioning the worth of masks: “Imposing on millions of children an intervention that provides little discernible benefit, on the grounds that we have not yet gathered solid evidence of its negative effects, violates the most basic tenet of medicine: First, do no harm.” What was originally a conservative-led cause became more mainstream. The same applied to the issue of COVID-19 vaccinations for minors. These conflicts lit a flame.
Then, in late March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Act. Left-wing media has branded it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. That label is meant to enrage opponents of the bill. To an extent, it has done that. But the bill has also encouraged parents to strengthen their advocacy as they see a “woke” culture take aim at children. After all, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation out of kindergarten through third grade classrooms. That’s all that the bill does.
Following Florida’s lead, states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas are entertaining or plan to entertain comparable legislation. Meanwhile, Republicans in Missouri are reportedly moving forward with a bill that allows parents full knowledge of their child’s school curriculum. Writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kurt Erickson said, “It marks the latest example of Republicans stoking culture wars in the midst of an election cycle by forcing votes on divisive issues, including abortion, transgender rights and race sensitivity training.” Demonizing parents and conservatives may feel good, but it will only work against Democrats and leftists. If the latter prefer a few rough election cycles, they should continue this line of attack.
Increasingly, parents seem to be viewed by those outside the family unit as just another part of their children’s life. If there is one thing that might galvanize mothers and fathers into action, it is this. But questioning curricula, transgender athletes, and critical race theory is treated as an affront by the very individuals who would cheer on such indoctrination. That there is a measure of surprise at such activity means Democrats and their counterparts have underestimated the power of the parents. If the campaigns to push traditional boundaries continue, it may bring Democrats some major electoral woes.
Parents are not equal to teachers. Parents are not equal to members of the government or “the village.” Parents know what’s best for their children and will fight to protect them from increasing secularization, especially at an early age. Parental rights is a big winner in general and at the ballot box. Republicans should take note.
Kimberly Ross (@SouthernKeeks) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog and a columnist at Arc Digital.