Everything You Need to Know Before Heading Back to School!
Many teachers, parents and students are getting ready to head back to school. Texas Values is here as a resource to guide you through the school year challenges including parental rights, curriculum, and school choice. Parental Rights Parents have the right to direct the education of their children. This right has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. Parents have the right to know what their child is learning and should take every opportunity to know who is teaching their children. House Bill 900 passed the Legislature this session making sexually explicit library books banned from public school libraries and classrooms. Children will now be able to freely read in their school libraries and classrooms without being exposed to harmful materials and parents can know what books their children are reading at school. Parents should be aware of the following: Current law requires public school districts to notify parents of their right to opt their child into human sexuality courses, but this requirement is set to expire August 1, 2024. School Health Advisory Councils (SHAC) must adhere to rules that require their meetings to be recorded and posted online. Parents should also be given adequate notice of when SHAC meetings will occur. With this law expiring next year, however, parents should petition Governor Abbott to make this a special session priority in October 2023! Parents should be aware that any subject in school can be an opportunity for LGBTQ political ideology to be taught. Download this free guide from our friends at Family Policy Alliance on how to protect your children. Some school districts in Texas are putting girls in danger by allowing biological males to use their locker rooms and play on their sports teams. Read about how to stand up against this abuse. Texas passed a law protecting girls in high school sports last session. Religious Liberty Rights for Students In addition to a reasonable expectation of privacy, students have numerous freedoms protected by laws such as the Texas Schoolchildren’s Religious Liberty Act and the Merry Christmas Law (both of which Texas Values team members helped to pass through the legislature). During this legislative session, a law was passed permitting chaplains to work in public schools. Chaplains provide extensive multilateral intervention services including confidential counseling and trauma care. This legislation provides another resource for school districts seeking qualified and trained individuals to help address the ongoing mental health crisis in public schools. School boards must vote by 2024 on whether a school district should adopt a policy allowing chaplains to be hired as volunteers. Make sure you attend school board meetings and ask the members for this policy to be adopted. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, 597 U.S. — (2022), also known as “The Coach Kennedy Supreme Court case” solidified the fact that teachers, coaches and school employees all have the constitutional right to pray on a public school campus. In other words, the Supreme Court clarified that praying on school property is protected speech under the First Amendment. Coach Kennedy was fired for praying at the 50-yard line before football games. However, the United States Supreme Court found his firing unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. School employees can now have the freedom to pray and express their religious beliefs without punishment from the school district. Students have the right to: Engage in student-led prayer; Have student led Christian clubs; Hold student led bible studies on campus; Express their Christian values in class; Share their faith with other students; and Acknowledge Christian holidays. Under Senate Bill (S.B.) 797 passed last legislative session, schools in Texas are required to display the national motto if signs with “In God We Trust” are donated to the school district or purchased from private donations. After some teachers were reprimanded for displaying “In God We Trust Signs” in the classroom, the Texas Legislature decided to pass the law HB 2012 that says schools cannot punish teachers for abiding by the law of displaying “In God We Trust” signs in the classroom. U.S. Supreme Court precedent upholds the student’s right to religious freedom at school. If you as a student or a student’s parent face an infringement on any of the rights listed above, please contact Texas Values at (512) 478-2220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Schooling Options Parental choice is becoming even more necessary in a time where kids are exposed to sexually explicit content and inappropriate materials in school libraries and databases. Many public schools read books about gender-confused children to the whole classroom and intentionally encourage kids to keep things from their parents. Additionally, in the 87th session, legislators passed SB 3, which bans the teaching of critical race theory in the classroom. Save Women’s and Girls Sports Last session a law was passed protecting girl’s K-12 University Interscholastic League (UIL)sports. This law ensured that biological boys are not allowed to play on girl’s teams. This session that protection was expanded to the collegiate level so that all women’s sports are protected, and women and girls get a fair chance to succeed in athletics. Recently, the UIL reaffirmed their enforcement of the Save Girls Sports law by rejecting a public proposal to have boys on girls’ volleyball teams. Protections Against Sexually Explicit Content Texas successfully banned “sexually explicit” drag shows for minors, which includes drag queens performing at schools and public venues. If a drag queen comes to perform at a pride event at a school, it could possibly be a violation of SB 12. School Choice Many parents are making the choice to homeschool their children this school year. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from public schools and choose private schools or homeschool them instead. Texas Values offers resources to help you understand your rights when withdrawing your child from public school. We pray that these resources are helpful as you prepare to send your children back into the classroom. Texas Values will continue to fight for parental rights in our state.