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'Absolutely Unbelievable': Washington State Superintendent Tells School Districts to Ignore New Parents' Bill of Rights Law

Sarah Holliday : Jun 11, 2024  The Washington Stand

"This state superintendent is trying to undermine [voters] who have said they want to locally control their schools, and they just want to be informed of what's happening in their schools"—which seems to be "too much for the state superintendent." -FRC's Senior Fellow for Education Studies, Meg Kilgannon

[] Initiative 2081, otherwise known as the Parents' Bill of Rights, is a measure that was started by voters in the state of Washington that "would provide certain rights to parents and guardians of public-school children, including rights to review instructional materials, inspect records, receive certain notifications, and opt out of certain activities, like sexual-health education." In March, this initiative was approved by both the state Senate and House "by super majorities, and since it was an initiative started by voters, it does not require a governor's signature to take effect," KOMO News reported. (Screengrab image: via KOMO News 4)

Family Research Council's Jody Hice, former congressman and guest host of "Washington Watch," explained on Friday's episode how the Parents' Bill of Rights "ensures that parents are not left in the dark on details of their child's education." But late in May, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Washington sued the state to stop the initiative from taking effect, claiming the measure "will result in harm to LGBTQ+ students, youth of color, and students from other marginalized backgrounds." The lawsuit also stated the initiative violated "the Washington Constitution by failing to identify the many existing laws it changes."

The most recent development involved a Washington judge who ruled against ACLU's lawsuit, which allowed I-2081 to go into effect last week. And yet, just when the controversy seemed to be dying down, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal told Washington State's 295 school districts to dismiss the new law. In a statement released by his office, Reykdal said, "Our state's guidance has maintained that, in order to protect student privacy and safety, schools should communicate with students who disclose they are transgender or gender expansive about the student's individual needs, preferences, and safety concerns. It is the student's decision when and if their gender identity is shared, and with whom."

Hice emphasized that what it comes down to is "we have an elected official telling public employees to break the law." To which FRC's Senior Fellow for Education Studies Meg Kilgannon added, "[I]t really is incredible." She continued, Reykdal "thinks it's a good idea for him to oppose a law" the citizens of Washington clearly wanted to put in place. As Kilgannon pointed out, "[That's] quite a move" on his part.

She also noted that "even the Democrats in the state legislature decided that they better not fight the people," which only further proves that Reykdal is making decisions that "do the bidding of the left-wing teachers unions and ... leftist interests" over that of the majority of those within the state. Ultimately, Kilgannon explained, "This state superintendent is trying to undermine [voters] who have said they want to locally control their schools, and they just want to be informed of what's happening in their schools"—which seems to be "too much for the state superintendent."

It's "absolutely unbelievable," Hice said, that someone with the position like Reykdal's would be so quick to "defy the will of the people, the will of the legislature, [and] the law itself." But as Kilgannon highlighted, "in a state like Washington ... that's so deeply blue and has been ... under the control of the Democratic Party for so long," it's "a hopeful sign that the voters in Washington" are passing initiatives that demonstrates the parental rights movement "is finally getting some traction." And as Hice emphasized, it's specifically encouraging to see it coming from the people, not just the legislatures.

Reykdal will be part of the state's jungle primary in August "where the top two vote-getters will be on the ballot in November," Kilgannon pointed out, so now is the time to "be engaged in this election." "[W]e're getting places," Kilgannon concluded, but the work isn't done. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

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