Hot-Button Issues Come to Parental Rights

The new Virginia legislature didn’t waste any time launching an all-out assault on parental rights.

In the opening hours, the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate took up four pieces of legislation that are troubling for families:

  1. SB 32 would outlaw spanking with “an inanimate object.”
  2. HB 386 would outlaw “conversion therapy” for minors.
  3. HB 580 would expand the definition of child abuse to include parents who “inflict physical or mental injury on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
  4. SB 104 would allow minors (no age restriction) to consent to CDC recommended vaccinations if a medical person thinks the minor has “the ability to understand at the same comprehension level as an adult the risks and benefits associated with vaccinations and immunizations.”

For, the bill to expand the definition of child abuse or neglect, which is still in committee, is a crisis point.

Historically, we as an organization have stayed away from the political hot-buttons in our effort to protect the unity around parental rights. A Zogby poll from 2010 showed that 92% of Democrats, 97% of Republicans, and 91% of Independents agree that “parents have the constitutional right to make decisions for their children without government interference unless there is proof of abuse or neglect.”

But these bills have brought the hot-button issues to us. They are not merely sexual orientation bills; they go right to the heart of parental rights.

HB 580 especially, which adds to the definition of child abuse, would widen the net of “child welfare” that is too broad already. As it stands, 83% of all child abuse investigations nationally turn out to be “unfounded” or “unsubstantiated.” Children are stripped from their parents or otherwise traumatized even though no wrongdoing has occurred.

HB 580 would add to the number of victims of this broken system.

The Supreme Court has held that “most children, even in adolescence, simply are not able to make sound judgments concerning many decisions, including their need for medical care or treatment. Parents can and must make those judgments.Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979) at 603, emphasis added.

But both HB 580 and HB 386 seek to do away with this legal presumption.

In our current political climate, we’re not “supposed to” oppose sexual orientation bills. I have even been asked if is “anti-LGBTQ,” so let me state this plainly: We are not “anti-LGBTQ;” we stand for the right of all fit parents to make the best decisions for their own children, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the parent or their child.

If someone believes we should withhold support for a parent’s rights on the basis of these things, it is that someone who is discriminating on that basis, not this organization.

This is the battleground on which parental rights are being attacked today, so it is the battleground on which we must defend those rights. And we are proud to do so.

So I urge you to consider stepping up your support, whether it’s through a donation to the cause or simply stating your positive opinion on social media. We will have detractors and we will lose a few supporters, so it will fall to the rest of us to fill in the gaps.

Some Good News

Thankfully, Virginians have already been on high-alert since election day, and public outcry has already removed two of these threats. SB 32 on corporal discipline has been tabled until the 2021 session, and SB 104 on minors consenting to vaccines was pulled by its sponsor in committee. This means it is no longer under consideration.

That they were offered in the first place, however, shows the scope of control over children that this legislature wants to wrest away from fit, innocent parents.

The vaccination bill was especially telling.

While parents in Virginia are legally able to acquire an exemption from vaccinating their child on the basis of their religious beliefs, SB 104 would have allowed a medical professional to coerce a child into overriding their parent’s religious objection. Not unsurprising, however, the bill would not have allowed a child with a religious objection to vaccines to override a parent’s decision to give the child the inoculation.

So the child’s authority to grant legally binding consent (and this was a child of any age!) would only exist if the child wanted to give consent for, not if the child wished to withhold consent from, a vaccination. In short, there was to be no consent at all—just a power grab by the state. The sponsor was wise to withdraw this proposal. opposes the remaining bills, Virginia HB 386 and HB 580, on the basis that they violate the time-honored, natural right of parents to make medical and mental health decisions for their children. We will continue to oppose similar bills in the future, in every state.

(Virginia residents oppose HB 386 companion bill SB 245 here).

Thank you for standing with us, in Virginia or whatever state you’re in, as we fight to protect children by empowering parents even on the hot-button issues of our day.


Michael Ramey

Executive Director


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