On March 17, 2023, the Oklahoma State Department of Education held an open forum to allow public comment on proposed rule changes that would expand parents’ rights to be notified regarding sex education materials, including gender identity or sexual orientation, and that would strengthen language against encouraging minors to hide information from their parents. These rules also assign penalties to schools and school officials who violate these provisions of the Oklahoma Parents’ Bill of Rights.
The proposed rule changes would specifically assign penalties when schools expose children to pornographic content and when schools hide information about a child and/or encourage the child to hide information from a parent.
Tracey Montgomery, Oklahoma State Coordinator for ParentalRights.org, spoke on behalf of the rule changes. (See Fox25’s coverage of the event here.) Her testimony was as follows:
“My name is Tracey Montgomery, and I am the Oklahoma State Coordinator for Parental Rights.Org. I wrote the Parents’ Bill of Rights in Oklahoma. My husband and I traveled the state for over 4 years, bringing awareness and educating parents on their fundamental rights. I spent 3 years lobbying the legislature until the Parent’s Bill of Rights was passed by an overwhelming majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle understood that loving parents are best equipped to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
The courts have also understood that parents act in the best interest of their children. The Supreme Court’s precedent of upholding parent rights as fundamental goes all the way back to the early 1920s. They understand that parents’ rights do not stop at the school door.
Parents have the moral and legal obligations to decide what is best for their child in all areas of life, and parents have to live with the consequences of those decisions. If a parent allows their child to be exposed to something harmful then the parent and the child are the ones that must live with the consequences of that decision. If the school allows a child to be exposed to something that is harmful or later proves to be harmful, who is it that lives with the consequences? The parent and the child are the ones who live with the consequences, NOT THE SCHOOL.
Parents cannot protect their child, nor can they help their child reach their full potential if they don’t have all of the information on their child, or if they don’t know all that [their child is] being exposed to or taught. I support this rule change because it gives parents the tools to be able to protect their child and reach their full potential.
Children have the same fundamental rights as you and I, but parents hold those rights in trust and exercise them for their children. If I attend a class in college and they show or discuss sexual content or pornography, I have the ability to get up and walk out, to choose not to see the content. Our children, however, do not have that same ability in school unless parents exercise it for them.
Parents are willing to work with schools, but we are not willing to surrender our God-given authority or rights to the school.
I support these rule changes and I represent a multitude of parents across the state who support these rule changes also.”
We are grateful for Tracey and her leadership on this issue, and grateful for each of you who reached out and testified in person or through email to make your voices heard!