Parental Rights Amendment (HJRes. 38)
Introduced in Congress

March 1, 2023 // Washington, DC – Rep. Debbie Lesko (AZ-8) and six original cosponsors today introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives a Parental Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Amendment would enshrine the traditional liberty of parents to direct a child’s upbringing, education, and care as a fundamental right.

Lesko, who heads the Protect Kids Caucus in the House, believes protecting this traditional role of parents is key to keeping children healthy and safe....

The House joint resolution to introduce the Amendment will receive a bill number in the next couple of days. It marks the ninth straight Congress in which the Amendment has been introduced.

Joining Representative Lesko in sponsoring the Amendment are Representatives Jeff Duncan (SC-3), Jim Banks (IN-3), Mary Miller (IL-15), Greg Steube (FL-17), Bill Posey (FL-8), and Doug Lamborn (CO-5).

You can read the full press release here.

Current Cosponsors

You can find the current list of cosponsors on the Congress website here.

Text of the Amendment

The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right.

The parental right to direct education includes the right to choose, as an alternative to public education, private, religious, or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one's child.

Neither the United States nor any State shall infringe these rights without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

The parental rights guaranteed by this article shall not be denied or abridged on account of disability.

Why We Need the
Parental Rights Amendment

For almost 100 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the traditional role of parents in directing the care, custody, and control of their minor children. In Wisconsin v. Yoder, the Court declared that parental rights have been “established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.” 406 US 205, 232 (1972) 

Despite this, many government actors and agencies today are working overtime to substitute a parent’s decisions with the government worker’s own view of what is best for a given child. From schools to hospitals to child welfare investigators, “experts” think they know what’s best for your child better than you do.

And while this has been going on for decades, we have all become painfully aware of it since the recent pandemic, when many learned for the first time just how much power the government wants to have over our children.

Yet, every child is unique; no one knows or loves a child better than his or her own parents. Mom or Dad, you are the expert on your child.

The Parental Rights Amendment will protect the traditional role of parents as long recognized by the US Supreme Court, restoring the proper balance of parental authority against government decision-making. This fundamental right is so important that we cannot rely on just Supreme Court precedent. Parental rights must be established in the black and white text of the U.S. Constitution. And that is exactly what the Parental Rights Amendment will accomplish. 

By empowering parents—those who know and love their children best—the Amendment will protect children from misinformed, cookie-cutter bureaucracy.

What You Can Do

Right now, you can promote the Parental Rights Amendment in Congress by encouraging your own U.S. representative to sign on as a cosponsor to HJRes. 38. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Find your representative’s contact information here.
  2. Email or call your representative’s office. Tell their staff that you are a constituent and that you are urging your member of Congress to contact Annie Clark in Rep. Debbie Lesko’s office to sign on as a cosponsor of the Parental Rights Amendment, House Joint Resolution 38

Your message can simply be something like this:

I live in Rep. _____’s district, and I value the role of parents in the life of a child. I’m calling to urge my representative to contact Annie Clark in Rep. Debbie Lesko’s office and sign on as a cosponsor of HJRes. 38, the Parental Rights Amendment. Parents, not the government, have the fundamental right to decide what is best for their child. Please sign on to cosponsor this vital safeguard for my children and for America’s families.

You can also download a one-page factsheet about the Amendment to print or share online.

What Others Are Saying

"The Supreme Court in 1925 said ‘the child is not the mere creature of the State,’ but many of today’s bureaucrats have lost sight of that. This Amendment will permanently codify that precedent and restore a proper respect for the vital parent-child bond in America."

James R. Mason, Esq., President, Home School Legal Defense Association

"Children belong to families. They don't belong to the government. This constitutional amendment preserves parents' fundamental right to direct the upbringing and care of their children, and protects parents' rights to choose the education that best meets their children's needs. Children thrive when parents have the freedom and right to select from a wide array of educational options."

Ginny Gentles, Senior Policy Analyst, Independent Women's Voice

"Parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children. Sadly, as parents have stood before local school boards and state legislatures across the country to claim that right, they’ve been met by government officials who declare themselves the ultimate determiners of what’s best for children. This includes growing instances of schools actively hiding controversial curricula and critical information about children’s mental and physical health from parents. Thankfully, a growing coalition of parents, leaders, and organizations is standing up for the protection of our children and the fundamental rights of parents. We are grateful to Rep. Lesko for joining this movement by introducing this important proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution. Parents have a right to raise and educate their children consistent with their beliefs and values. Such a vital and fundamental right warrants explicit protection in our Constitution."

Emilie Kao, Senior Counsel and Vice President of Advocacy Strategy, Alliance Defending Freedom

“The family unit and its ability to function independently of the government is vital for the health of our country. The Parental Rights Amendment is a crucial piece of legislation in a country whose government often forgets parents are responsible for their children’s upbringing, not the government. This bill goes on to protect the rights of parents to choose the best education for their children to flourish. Rep. Lesko’s much needed legislation will protect fundamental parental rights.”

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America

Public officials--including those in the education space---have mocked, silenced, and sidelined parents for far too long. Parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their child, period. Not teachers. Not schools. Not the government. Not experts. The Parental Rights Amendment would ensure that parents are in the driver's seat when it comes to making important decisions about their child's care. PDE Action applauds Representative Lesko's commitment to parental rights.

—Alex Nester, Political Director, Parents Defending Education Action

"The family is the foundation of society. This understanding dates back millennia, from the teachings of the Church to the writings of the ancient philosophers, and it was central at the time of the American founding. Yet, in recent times, governments have tried to replace the primacy of the family and elevate government control over loving parents. This Amendment simply yet eloquently reminds government that it is the servant, not the master. The Amendment reaffirms in the text of the U.S. Constitution that parental rights are fundamental and afforded the highest level of protection in our legal system."
—Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center