With the start of a new school year comes more anxiety for parents. Parents of older children have seen the progression of dubious agendas into their child’s classroom over the last decade. Unfortunately, the pace and amount of questionable content have only increased in recent years.From the pro-gay movement to organizations like Planned Parenthood, the number one target of the liberal agenda is your student’s impressionable mind. Their avenue is no longer just health class; they have found ways to work their agendas into the academic classes, as well as non-curriculum time during the school day.We have provided you with several resources on this section of our website. We invite you to explore our brochures that provide insight into some specific areas of concern, including same-sex “marriage,” teen gambling, children’s literature and teen sexuality. We have provided you with tools to discover questionable books and curricula in your child’s school, and how to report that back to us. We have also given you information about recourse actions that may be available to you.Working together, we can protect your children while they are in school, and raise the next generation in the values and traditions that we hold so dear.

1. Can boys use the girl's bathroom and locker room?

In early 2013, the MA Commissioner of Education issued sweeping new policy guidelines on “gender identity” for grades K-12 in the public schools.  Teachers and administrators were faced with a laundry list of far-reaching new rule, such as allowing boys who ‘identify’ as girls to use the girls’ “restroom, locker room, and changing facility,” and vice versa.  Principals were told to make it clear that students can use whatever restroom “corresponds to the student’s gender identity.”  According to the guidelines, “discomfort [ of the rest of the student body or from parents ] is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

The new policy also claimed to impact locker rooms and interscholastic athletics.  All school teams would essentially become coed, as students could play on whichever team they feel matches their gender identity.  The policy even cited an example of a male student participating, as a girl, on an all-girls’ cheerleading squad.

MFI alerted the media and state legislators, and the Commissioner eventually admitted unequivocally that the guidelines “are not a mandate,” and stated that local school districts are free to deal with this issue as they see best.  It is crucial that parents and concerned citizens contact their local school committee members and let them know that this dangerous policy is NOT THE LAW.

2. What is the current parental notification law?

The current state Parental Notification Law (M.G.L. 71 § 32A):

Chapter 71: Section 32A. Sex education; policy regarding notice to parents, exception Section 32A. Every city, town, regional school district or vocational school district implementing or maintaining curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues shall adopt a policy ensuring parental/guardian notification. Such policy shall afford parents or guardians the flexibility to exempt their children from any portion of said curriculum through written notification to the school principal. No child so exempted shall be penalized by reason of such exemption.

Said policy shall be in writing, formally adopted by the school committee as a school district policy and distributed by September first, nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and each year thereafter to each principal in the district. A copy of each school district’s policy must be sent to the department of education after adoption.

To the extent practicable, program instruction materials for said curricula shall be made reasonably accessible to parents, guardians, educators, school administrators, and others for inspection and review. The department of education shall promulgate regulations for adjudicatory proceedings to resolve any and all disputes arising under this section.

Link: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/71-32a.htm

3. How will I know to “opt-out” my child from sex education?
A careful reading of the above law shows that while the school district must have a policy “ensuring parental/guardian notification,” it does not specify how that notification should be made to parents. Oftentimes the notification comes with a large packet of materials received during school “open houses,” or sent home with students. Because notification may not be done in the most direct manner, the onus is on the parent to inquire about any classes in which an “opt-out” provision will be available and to submit the necessary forms to keep his or her student out of that class.

Current Massachusetts law has an “opt-out” provision in regards to sex education, but an “opt-in” provision is a much more favorable option, and one that MFI is actively working to get passed in the Legislature. This proposed state legislation would require parents to actually opt their child into the class, as opposed to current law where children are automatically enrolled in the class and parents must expressly contact school officials. It would treat classes dealing with human sexuality as electives.

At the state level, our schools and parents are facing a loss of local control specifically on the issue of sexual education.  This is due to a coordinated campaign by the Massachusetts Department of Education and Planned Parenthood. While MFI successfully blocked a proposed sex-ed mandate bill in 2014, this will be a recurring challenge.  MFI will continue to defend your right to make decisions for your children and your community.

4. Where can I get information on Common Core?

MFI has always fought for local control for parents, teachers and educators in our public schools. We are concerned with the threat to local decision-making represented by the federally mandated Common Core standards.

There are excellent resources on this subject from our friends at Pioneer Institute and Family Research Council.

MFI will be keeping you posted on local developments concerning Common Core at this website. Please check back regularly for updates.

5. What is the “Day of Silence”?
What organizers say: On a day in April, thousands of American students–some as young as 12–participate in a “Day of Silence” when they will refuse to utter a single word, not even in response to a teacher’s question, in recognition of so-called discrimination and harassment experienced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Many students will wear t-shirts and hand out “speaking cards,” and some schools hold follow-up events, called “Breaking the Silence,” to reinforce the message that “homophobia” will not be tolerated.

What the truth is: The “Day of Silence” is organized by the national homosexual activist group Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the same group responsible for encouraging students to form pro-gay student clubs or gay-straight alliances. Though GLSEN claims the event is about tolerance and safety, the messages are extremely intolerant, permitting only one viewpoint to be expressed and accepted. Those who disagree or seek a dialogue on the topic of homosexual behavior are cast as bigoted and ignorant.

Beyond the pro-gay message of the “Day of Silence” is the direct interference in the school day. Organizers ask students to refuse to speak during classroom time preventing teachers from covering the academic lessons of the day. “At its heart, the Day of Silence is an adult-driven campaign that is selfishly done for primarily political reasons, even though well-meaning students decide to participate,” explains Focus on the Family on their TrueTolerance.org website.

How should parents respond? If you discover that the “Day of Silence” is taking place in your child’s school, there are a few options that you can consider to counter the event. First and foremost, reinforce your values in your child on the issue of homosexual behavior, as well as how to be loving and respectful of all people and different beliefs.

As far as the day itself, there are at least two different options, and you as a parent should decide which is the most appropriate for your child. Some parents decide to keep their child at home that day and use it as an opportunity to talk about the issue with their child. Others allow their child to attend classes and fully participate in normal school day activities armed with the truth about what is happening around them that day.

As a word of caution, we encourage parents to find out if there are any academic or sports-related penalties that may be assessed on a student who misses school . The “Day of Silence” occasionally falls on the day before Massachusetts school vacation week, posing some potential problems for parents and students who wish to stay home that day. Some policies require a student be present at sports practice after school or face a suspension from the team. Only students who attend classes that day are allowed at practice with the team. There may be other policies that specific school districts have adopted pertaining to the days immediately preceding or following school vacation that could result in penalties, so we encourage you to check with both your child and the school before keeping your student home from school.

There is also the alternative “Day of Truth” that has been developed to counter the one-sided portrayal of the issue. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) created the “Day of Truth” as an alternative for students of faith and other conservative students to express their opinions on the issue and present the other side of the issue to their classmates. In contrast to the “Day of Silence,” the “Day of Truth” encourages dialogue, ask students to be respectful to other students, teachers and principals, and asks them to follow school procedures. It also tells students not to pass out cards during class time, only during breaks, lunch hours and before and after school.

“In the past, students who have attempted to speak against the promotion of the homosexual agenda have been censored or, in some cases, punished for their beliefs,” explains the website, www.dayoftruth.org. “It is important that students stand up for their First Amendment right to hear and speak the Truth about human sexuality in order to protect that freedom for future generations. The Day of Truth provides an opportunity to publicly exercise your constitutional right to free speech.”

If you are involved in a faith community or you know other parents who share your values, speak with them and decide if you want to bring your concerns before the school committee and school administrators. Though it is unlikely that you will be able to get the “Day of Silence” out of the school completely, you may be able to alert enough parents to its presence who can then speak about it with their children.

Additional Resource: “What the Day of Silence is Really All About”

6. What other events and clubs are present in schools?
Beyond the “Day of Silence” are numerous other events and clubs that could be present in your child’s school. National advocacy groups such as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Planned Parenthood have materials, lesson plans, and classroom activities that they recommend or make available to school systems. These materials could potentially put schools in danger of violating constitutional principles and/or parental rights.

First and foremost are the “gay-straight alliances” that are encouraged to form by GLSEN, as well as the Massachusetts Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, a tax-payer funded organization. These clubs recruit student members and have a faculty adviser. Students in these clubs are also responsible for organizing and publicizing the “Day of Silence” and the other events listed below. These groups routinely receive less scrutiny and more administration support than any conservative or Christian group on school campuses.

Among the other events being held in schools nationwide is “TransAction! Day,” again a creation of GLSEN that is purported to help make schools safe. However, a review of the actual materials shows a very radical, extreme agenda that includes workshops on gender-neutral language and terminology. Students are instructed to use pronouns such as “zie” and “hir” instead of “he” and “she” or “his” and “hers” and told to discuss definitions of terms such as “Butch,” “Femme,” Drag king/Drag Queen,” and “Genderqueer.” Students are also instructed on sexual reassignment surgery and hormone treatments, and encouraged to advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms. (Download the MFI PDF on TransAction! Day)

TrueTolerance.org provides an extensive overview of these events and materials. It also includes a look at GLSEN’s “Ally Week,” held in October, along with a 125-page “Tackling LGBT Issues in School” packet that is made available to educators. You are also briefed on materials that Planned Parenthood, SEICUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), and the National Education Association (NEA) provide to educators.

7. Textbooks, library books and other literature in schools
As a parent, you should be aware of what textbooks and library books are being purchased for use in your child’s school, and what books may already be in the collection. You have a right as a parent to know what books are available to students. While the local school board must approve all curriculum based textbooks, there are no such requirements for other books found in schools.

If you are the parent of an elementary school student, most teachers at that level create a library within their classroom. There are no guidelines in place for these books, and they are purchased and owned by each individual classroom teacher. Students are allowed to borrow them and typically read those books if they are done working on a lesson before the rest of the class. Though most teachers are not out to put harmful materials in the hands of their students, teachers may not share your values or worldview and introduce books that are in direct conflict.

For older students, some problems can arise in the list of summer reading selections for high school students. Most school districts require that high school students read selected books over the summer break. The books are selected by the department chair, and you should take the time to review the list, and if possible, read the book your student chooses as well so that you can have a discussion with him or her about the content. These books will be discussed in class, so it is important that parents interject their thoughts and values into the discussion before the teacher and other students contribute their thoughts. These discussions will help your student to speak with confidence in the classroom setting.

Take Action:

* Familiarize yourself with the books that are available in the school library, all assigned classroom reading (including textbooks), as well as the teacher’s personal book collection.
* Request that your local school board adopt guidelines for library purchases and teacher/classroom collections.
* Actively engage your student about what they are reading in class and discuss how the topics interact with your values.

8. What are the “Welcoming Schools” and “SECS” programs?
Two programs that activist groups are using to get their agenda in schools are the “Welcoming Schools” program, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, and the Sexuality Education Certification Series (SECS), sponsored by the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Though each of these programs come from a different angle, with the “Welcoming Schools” program concentrating on homosexuality and SECS on comprehensive sex education, both feature content that challenges parental rights and faith-based values.

“Welcoming Schools” is a curriculum designed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender advocacy organization, for Kindergarten through 5th Grade students.  (Watch a brief HRC video featuring MA students ages six to twelve years-old talk about gays and lesbians.) It is portrayed as a program to combat bullying in schools through diversity education, but focuses primarily on teaching children at the youngest ages about homosexual relationships and same-sex parenting. “HRC says the program is designed to stop bullying,” but its underlying intent goes beyond combating prejudice,” says ADF attorney Austin Nimocks.

According to a story in The Anchor newspaper, lessons cluster around three themes: family diversity, gender stereotyping and name-calling, and teachers are encouraged to integrate those lessons across the curriculum, connecting them to English, history, social studies and health. A startling part of the lessons is that they teach young children that gender is fluid. The books “Sissy Duckling” and “King and King” are recommended for classroom use, and for children in grades 3-5 teachers should have them “act out” being members of nontraditional families.

The Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) is actively pushing to have schools in Massachusetts adopt its sex education curriculum and offering it free of charge, another way to entice cash-strapped cities and towns. Instructors of this program are required to attend the Sexuality Education Certification Series (SECS) that is put on by PPLM. According to the PPLM website, “Participants develop the knowledge, skills and knowledge needed to provide successful sexuality education programs.”

PPLM has taken to publicizing the “abstinence” piece of their curriculum in the hope of defusing some stigmas associated with the Planned Parenthood name. However, their curriculum continues to feature “contraception and protection methods,” as well as “sexual identity,” a buzz phrase for instruction on homosexual behavior.

A resource made available to educators is the “Protection Methods Demonstration Kit” that PPLM makes available for $110 on its website. Described as the most comprehensive resource for teaching about contraception and protection, “The Kit” includes the following: 2 birth control pill packs, 1 birth control batch, 1 diaphragm, 1 contraceptive jelly, 1 contraceptive vaginal film, 1 contraceptive sponge, 10 condoms, 2 female condoms, 1 dental dam, 1 contraceptive foam applicator, 1 wooden condom demonstration model and 1 IUD & insertion device, among other items.

One Massachusetts school committee member, after receiving a presentation by PPLM on their program, said, “I am concerned your program is a training program for kids having sex,” while another expressed reservations of having outside instructors come into their school and teach a sensitive subject like sex education.

These are two programs that you should be on the look out, as both HRC and PPLM are aggressively approaching schools to adopt or pilot these programs.

Additional Resources:

* Human Rights Campaign’s “Welcoming Schools” Program – Read it for yourself!
* Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts “Protection Methods Demonstration Kit” – See it for yourself!

9. Download MFI “Back-to-School” Brochures
Parents’ Guide for Back to School (2014) – This is the 2014 update for our first brochure published in 2004 after same-sex “marriage” came to Massachusetts. Parents are briefed on what may be going on in their child’s classroom and how best to ascertain that information. It explains your rights as a parent and the questions that you should ask teachers, the principal and the school committee. Download PDF

How same-sex “marriage” will affect your child’s school – In this brochure, first published in 2004 after same-sex “marriage” came to Massachusetts, parents are briefed on what may be going on in their child’s classroom and how best to ascertain that information. It explains your rights as a parent and the questions that you should ask teachers, the principal and the school committee. Download PDF

A Parent’s Guide to Teen Gambling – Teen gambling continues to be a growing problem nationwide, and with the possibility of expanded gambling in Massachusetts, parents need to know how to tell if their child may have a gambling problem. Filled with statistics, warning signs and additional resources, this is an important resource for parents of teenagers. Download PDF

A Parent’s Guide to Children’s Literature – One way that special interest groups get their agendas in front of students is through books. In this guide, parents are told to be engaged by inquiring of teachers and librarians what books are available to students, and what books will be assigned as part of classroom instruction. Download PDF

A Parent’s Guide to Teen Sexuality and Sexually-Transmitted Disease – There is an epidemic spreading among teenagers, and it can have deadly consequences. In this publication, parents learn the scary details about the sexually-transmitted diseases ravaging the bodies of our young people. It helps parents in having the tough but necessary discussions with their teens about the risks of sex, and explains the pertinent public policy issues.  Download PDF

10. Can they do that in my school? Answers to legal questions
There is pressure being applied on to school systems around the nation by gay-advocacy groups threatening legal liability if they do not create a “safe environment” for gay and lesbian students. Schools are being told that if they do not ban “homophobic” and “anti-LGBT” (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) messages–as well as include positive statements about homosexuality in their policies, curriculum, books and during special events–they will face legal liability. Contrary to these legal threats, silencing one side of the discussion could result in unconstitutional discrimination and costly litigation from the families of students who have had their rights infringed upon.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has developed a package of legal materials for parents to provide to administrators informing them of student rights and the legal dangers they face if they decide to limit discussion on issues such as homosexual behavior. We encourage you to download this PDF document, read it yourself, and hopefully deliver it to your school administrators.

Click Here to download “What Schools Officials Should Know About Addressing Homosexuality in Public Schools” (Note: PDF Download)

11. Get Involved: How can I be proactive in my school?
There are numerous effective ways to get involved in your child’s education, and there are no excuses not to be involved. Even if you have a busy schedule there are opportunities that you should not miss.

Volunteer in the classroom – By actually being in your child’s class, you will get to know the other students, the teacher and the school environment. Consider that your child will be in this school system from 13 years (K-12) and will be in the company of the same classmates in his or her age group for many of those years. As your child grows up and develops friendships, your knowledge of his or her classmates and their parents will be a great help. Being in the classroom allows you to get to know the teacher who will be shaping your child’s mind and discover his or her teaching methods, as well as any potential for conflicting values. You can also have a hands-on look at the teacher’s library.

Volunteer in the library – There is no easier way to familiarize yourself with the school library’s collection that by being in there as a volunteer. You can also monitor the library’s latest acquisitions. As teachers bring their classes into the library, you can note the books that the teacher is suggesting for the students. You can also volunteer in other areas of the school, including taking recess or cafeteria duty. This will show that you are actively involved in your child’s school, and lend credibility to any suggestions or concerns that you voice in the PTA/PTO or school committee meetings.

Be a part of the PTA/PTO – Your school system will have a parent-teacher association or organization (PTA/PTO) and the school administration often utilizes this organization for input and subcommittee work. As a member, you will will have influence over fundraising and how those funds are spent. You will meet other parents, particularly those that want to influence their child’s school, and they will either be your friend or foe depending on the issue up for debate.

Join the school governance council – Under the 1993 Education Reform Act, every school must have a ‘council’ and the make-up of that council is very specific. There are seats just for parents, as well as for a teacher, an administrator and a community member. The councils are responsible for reviewing the school-based budget and writing the school improvement plan. This is a great opportunity to have direct input into school policy and spending.

Attend school committee meetings – It is one thing to watch school committee meetings on television or read about them in the newspaper, but it is far more effective to actually be in the meetings and actively participating. Get the agenda in advance and come with questions that you want answered. It is a mistake to assume that school members and the school administrators share your values, and even bigger mistake to assume that other parents will voice your concerns for you.

Always attend “Back to School Night,” open houses and parent-teacher conferences. These are great opportunities to get familiar with the teacher, staff, and other parent’s as well, and are easily fit into a busy schedule.

12. What happened in the Parker and Wirthlin parental rights incidents?
The Parkers, David and Tonia, and the Wirthlins, Robb and Robin, filed suit in 2006 after the Parkers’ son, Jacob, brought home a book as part of a “diversity book bag” in his Lexington kindergarten class in 2005. The book, “Who’s in a Family,” included a same-sex-headed household. The Wirthlins’ son, Joey, when in the first grade, was in a class where the overtly homosexual book “King and King” was read out loud to him and his classmates. The book is about a prince falling in love with and marrying another prince.

The case concerned a parent’s right to exclude their children from discussions about homosexuality in elementary schools and began in 2006 when the two Lexington families, the Parkers and the Wirthlins, objected to classroom materials that depicted same-sex marriages, relationships and families. “Books and lessons will come into [schools] to have children affirm it,” Parker said. “They will be coerced to affirm the correctness and the normalcy of homosexuality, homosexual conduct, and gay marriage.”

In February 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf dismissed the lawsuit, explaining that “[i]n essence under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy.” Wolfe added: “Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation.” The families appealed the dismissal, but it was upheld by the appellate court. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The Wirthlins have since moved out of Lexington, while the Parkers began home-schooling their children last year.

13. How to contact MFI if you find questionable materials in your school
Massachusetts Family Institute is available to answer any questions that you may have about the content of this page, or put you in contact with individuals or organizations that may be able to advocate on your behalf if you believe you have a legal complaint against your child’s school. MFI is interested in hearing about curriculum, books, lesson plans, assembles, events, and other things that are found within school walls that challenge parental rights, societal norms and traditional values. Armed with these accounts from parents, MFI can go to Beacon Hill and advocate on behalf of parents in support of laws that better protect their rights, such as the “opt-in” bill.

MFI can be contacted by phone at 781.569.0400 and by email at info@mafamily.org.

14. Where can I find additional information?
Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund have launched TrueTolerance.org to help parents respond in a winsome, factual way to homosexual advocacy in their child’s public school. Our page has drawn information from this website, but their resources are available in their entirety on this website. These resources are important for all parents to read, download and provide to the administrators of their child’s school.

“The good news about this website is that it makes it easy for parents to make their voices heard and balance out the biased information school officials are getting,” said Candi Cushman, education analyst at Focus on the Family Action. “Many public schools have stifled free speech and true diversity by silencing students of faith and those with conservative perspectives. This isn’t true tolerance. True tolerance means a free and respectful exchange of ideas.”

TrueTolerance.org is filled with information from legal experts, examples of pro-homosexual lesson plans that cross the line and fact-based counterpoints to the one-sided messages homosexual-advocacy groups frequently give public schools. MFI highly recommends that parents, and any pro-family activist, visit www.truetolerance.org, download the resources and start fighting back against the special interest groups using our public schools to forward their radical agenda.