The socially conservative group Focus on the Family has a released a new resource guide to help parents make informed decisions about their children’s education.
Back to School--for Parents, compiled by Focus on the Family and its partner organization Family Policy Alliance, was released Wednesday and is available to download for free. Its goal is to serve as a “busy parent’s guide to what’s happening in your children’s classrooms and practical steps you can take to protect them.”
The guide features information on what children across the United States are learning in school, including “comprehensive sex education” and mandated instruction on LGBT history. It also touches upon efforts to allow trans-identified students to enter bathrooms, locker rooms and showers designated for the opposite sex, in addition to allowing biological males who identify as females to compete in girls' sports.
Asserting that “students’ rights are being violated,” the guide explains that “students maintain their constitutional rights of religious freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of peaceful assembly” at school and highlights efforts to restrict students’ religious expression.
It encourages parents to take an active role in their children’s education by taking advantage of school choice options, running for their local school board and observing their children’s classes to keep abreast of what they're learning.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Jeff Johnston, culture and policy analyst at Focus on the Family, expressed hope that the guide will result in “a groundswell of parents who begin advocating for their rights and their children’s rights in public schools.” He attributed the push for the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education, the LGBT agenda, liberal indoctrination and the efforts to prevent students from expressing their religious faith to the American university system.
He pointed to the widespread adoption of the history textbook, A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, as a cause of the push to the left in academia. “There’s just been so many issues and it’s grown so big and more left-leaning ideologues have taken control of universities and colleges and some state legislatures. It’s trickling down into high school, middle school (and) elementary school now,” he said.
According to Johnston, a lot of this ideology focuses on sexuality and works on “shutting down Christianity and conservatives in the marketplace.”
“Many Christian families do homeschooling or they send kids to Christian schools because they’re seeing what’s happening in the public school system,” Johnston said. “Not everybody can do that. So we’re hoping this helps a lot of people as they push back against these ideologies that have trickled down into elementary and high schools.”
Johnston hopes that the guide will give parents the tools they need “to advocate for their children kindly and knowledgably first at the school, then at the school district, even at state legislatures if they have to.” He urged concerned citizens to participate in “review committees, where interested community members, parents, grandparents can … help review curriculum and textbooks and library books so we encourage parents to get involved at the local level as much as they can.
“We know people are busy. But we also know that their children are probably the most important things in their lives, and so we encourage them to get involved.”
The guide also features information about state laws about sex education and offers advice to parents about how to talk to their children when they're exposed to objectionable topics at school. While work on the guide began before the coronavirus pandemic caused many school districts to transition to online learning, Johnston believes that distance learning has shone a light on unsettling aspects of the curriculum at American public schools.
“Parents are seeing more and more what their kids are studying. They’re deeply concerned. … They’re seeing more because their kids are at home more and they’re having to help out with their schoolwork and learning. So they’re finding out, ‘hey, this is the curriculum and we don’t really like this.’”
“You’ve had schools where the school has asked parents not to watch Zoom classes so you don’t see what’s going on in the classroom. You have teachers talking on Twitter about their concerns about conservative parents finding out what they’re teaching on the campus. We’re just seeing that more and more people are becoming aware that, not all schools but many, schools are not their allies in their children’s education and they can take a stand,” he added.
Johnston, a former high school English teacher who taught in what he described as a “fairly conservative” school district in southern California, said the left-wing ideology was not as pervasive when he was teaching but he began to notice that “it was creeping into university systems.”
He recounted how his alma mater, San Diego State University, was “the first university in the ‘70s to open up a Women’s Studies department,” adding, “those have morphed into gender studies and LGBT studies and all kinds of things that are opposed to Christian views of marriage and the idea that there are two sexes.”
Back to School—for Parents has been endorsed by several prominent socially conservative organizations, including the American College of Pediatricians, the American Principles Project and Concerned Women for America. The guide ends with an appendix that includes a generic template parents can use when writing a letter expressing opposition to their children’s school’s transgender bathroom policy.