“If California is ever going to achieve true equity, the state must require parents to give away their children. … My solution—making raising your own children illegal—is simple…”
So said Joe Matthews, a columnist for the Ventura County Star, in an opinion piece published on January 13, 2022. His opinion piece was republished a few days later in the San Francisco Chronicle, amplifying this extreme position. (Read my response to his shocking article here.)
Today’s threats to parental rights aren’t coming from the United Nations, since treaties require a two-thirds vote in the Senate to be ratified (although we must always be vigilant to dangerous international treaties that would replace our nation’s history of parental rights as a fundamental right with the nebulous “best interests of the child” standard).
Today’s threats to parental rights also aren’t necessarily coming from the courts (although the Parental Rights Foundation and our allies are vigorously fighting in state and federal courts to protect parental rights).
No, many of today’s threats to parental rights are coming from academics trying to reshape our cultural worldview around their own distorted vision of the family. And through their attempts to reshape our nation’s cultural worldview, they hope to—in time—reshape the legal and political landscape in a way that forever destroys parental rights.
These academics include Professor James Dwyer from William and Mary University, who famously said parental rights are given by the government, conferred through a birth certificate. And, of course, what government gives, government can take away—or even withhold in the first place.
There’s also Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard University, who opined that homeschooling (and most private schools) should be illegal so that all children receive the same brand of education, the inculcation of one uniform worldview. (That would, of course, be the worldview held by Bartholet herself, and Dwyer, and—apparently—Joe Matthews, as well.)
Seizing the Moment
Clearly, our work is cut out for us. This is no time to rest. Rather, we have decided to seize the moment and work across the nation to introduce and pass state fundamental parental rights statutes.
In December of last year, I flew out to San Diego for the annual conference for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). We’ve been working with ALEC and the state legislators and outside groups there to get this language approved as a model bill:
Section 1. The liberty interest of a parent in the nurture, education, care, custody, and control of the parent’s child is a fundamental right recognized by the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of ___________.
Section 2. No agency or officer of this state nor any agency or officer of any subdivision of this state shall infringe fundamental parental rights except as provided by law narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means.
The language in Section 1 comes straight from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Troxel v Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000): “The liberty interest at issue in this case—the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children—is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court” (bolding added). In that Troxel decision, the Supreme Court cites a long line of seminal cases, including Meyer v. Nebraska (1923), Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), and Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), that have consistently recognized parental rights as fundamental rights. And now we’re working to enshrine this judicial precedent in state legislation across the nation to provide an extra level of protection to the fundamental right of loving parents—not bureaucrats or academics—to direct the nurture, education, care, custody, and control of their children.
I’m pleased to tell you this model parental rights bill was accepted unanimously. And then the real work began.
Working with our state parental rights coordinators and state legislators, we started introducing the model parental rights bill in state legislatures in the past few weeks. We followed the model that we used in Florida last year, when Florida passed their incredibly strong state parents’ bill of rights.
Permit me a moment to highlight three states where these efforts are already underway.
First, our model parental rights bill has been introduced in Pennsylvania. On January 4, Senators Doug Mastriano, Kristin Phillips-Hill, Judy Ward, and Michele Brooks introduced the parental rights statute, S.B. 996, following our model legislation. We’re working with them and with parents from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to get the bill scheduled for a committee hearing and a vote. This is our year to see it passed into law.
Our model parental rights statute has also been introduced in South Dakota. H.B. 1246 was introduced by Representatives Sue Peterson, Aaron Aylward, and Carl Perry, and Senator Jessica Castleberry on January 27, 2022. It is being heard in the House Judiciary Committee today, February 9, and our president, Will Estrada, is presenting testimony in that hearing to support this bill that protects fundamental parental rights.
Finally, our model parental rights statute has been introduced in New Hampshire. On January 5, H.B. 1431 was introduced by Representatives Paul Terry, Jeffrey Greeson, John Potucek, Richard Littlefield, Gregg Hough, Mark Alliegro, Aidan Ankarberg, Dawn Johnson, Norman Silber, and Melissa Blasek, and Senator Bob Giuda. Not only does it protect parental rights, but New Hampshire’s H.B. 1431 also includes strong curriculum transparency provisions, in addition to protecting the fundamental right of parents.
But these are not all; the list goes on and on.
Historic Opportunity for Parental Rights
We are seeing a level of interest in parental rights issues that is unparalleled in our 15-year history. Last year, we were successful in passing the Florida Parents’ Bill of Rights. But this year, we’re looking at multiple states passing parental rights legislation. And that presents a powerful opportunity!
But the reason we are able to rise to this challenge and seize the moment as the only nationwide organization solely devoted to advancing, defending, and protecting the rights of parents, is because of your partnership and generosity.
Will you stand with us at this critical moment for parental rights? Will you stand with the moms and dads who spent last year speaking out at school board meetings, and who are now working to advance this promising, pro-family, and pro-freedom legislation?
We have a crucial need to increase our staff to support moms and dads in all 50 states. But we can only grow through your support.
Will you take a moment today to send your best gift of $25, $60, or even $100 to expand our reach into additional states with the family-protecting security of a fundamental parental rights statute?
Your partnership will make all the difference in this vital effort nationwide.
Thank you for standing with us to protect children by defending the rights of parents in every possible state!
William A. Estrada, Esq.
ParentalRights.org and the Parental Rights Foundation
PS: In addition to our focus on state parental rights bills, we’re also working to reform state CPS laws to protect innocent parents and children, insert due process in child abuse and neglect investigations, advance curriculum transparency bills so parents know what is being taught in their public schools, and reintroduce our federal Parental Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. In addition to our legislative work, we have our ongoing litigation in state and federal courts to protect parental rights. And we’ve been publishing op-eds in news outlets around the country to advocate for parental rights in the public square. We’ll have more updates about all of this work in future letters!