Our View | Who’s the Parent? Not the State

Our View

By The Signal Editorial Board

What consenting adults do is their own business. 

The key word is “adults.” 

Children — well, that’s another matter. They need adult guidance and supervision until they are mentally, emotionally and cognitively prepared to make decisions that can impact the rest of their lives. 

That guidance and supervision, primarily, should come from their legal guardians, those who are legally responsible — liable, actually — for the lives of those minor children until they reach adulthood.

That is, their parents.

However, Sacramento politicians are trying to take away your parental rights. The state has made it perfectly clear that it believes your minor children belong to the state, and not you, the parents. Legislators in Sacramento have made it clear with a series of bills, some being signed into law and others not passed, that they would like to raise your children for you and completely strip you of your parental rights. 

Mind you, if your 16-year-old stole your car and crashed it into a house, causing $200,000 worth of damage, you, the parent, would be financially liable. 

A 16-year-old can’t vote in this state, nor can they legally drink until they are 21, but state legislators would like to allow your 12-year-old to make life-altering decisions and even receive medical treatment without your knowledge, let alone your consent. 

It is insane to allow a 12-year-old to make these decisions by themselves — or, as many state legislators would like, under the advice and guidance of government employees, without your involvement.

Parents have a right to be involved with their children’s life-altering decisions until at least the time they become adults and the parents are no longer responsible for the child’s upbringing, safety and security.

To its credit, the William S. Hart Union High School District has scheduled a meeting this Wednesday at Hart High School to discuss the possible implementation of a parental notification policy. 

It’s expected to be a heated discussion. The district has moved the meeting from the board’s normal meeting room at the district headquarters to the auditorium at Hart High, which has a larger capacity. A large crowd is expected and the district has already announced public input will be capped at three hours.

We would like to thank board member Joe Messina for suggesting this meeting and district Superintendent Mike Kuhlman for allowing this discussion. We request all local parents to come out and allow your voices to be heard. 

For our part, we believe the district should enact a parental notification policy. We suggest something as simple as this: 

If a minor child just mentions a sexual identity choice, no notification is necessary. Such a declaration may be an indication of how the child will identify as an adult, or it may not. Kids change their minds about things all the time. A child may change their mind 10 times over the next five years about any of a number of things, from sexual orientation to what they want to be when they grow up. Does your 12-year-old REALLY want to be a firefighter? Maybe. And maybe that changes later on, or not. 

We believe this is not the sort of thing that should trigger parental notification. If a child has questions about gender, sexual identity and orientation, we would hope that the child would discuss this with their parents — but we realize that for some children this may not be possible. We don’t believe a parent needs to be notified at this stage nor do we believe that any person associated with the district should advocate a position or encourage any statement in any way, or at any time. 

If the child’s situation seems more serious or occurs repeatedly then the child should be referred to a district mental health professional to assess the situation. If it is deemed that ongoing treatment is needed, the parents should be notified.

Critics of a parental notification policy are saying it would result in the “forced outing” of children who are gay. That should not be the intent of a parental notification policy, nor is it what we are advocating here. 

Rather, we are advocating parental notification and involvement whenever a permanent, life-altering decision is in play.

At no time and in no way should the district allow a life-altering medical procedure or medications to be administered without first notifying the parent and getting parental permission. It is just crazy to think a 12-year-old has the capability to make these decisions without their parents — or that it should be facilitated without parental knowledge or consent.

We again thank the district for having this discussion with parents and allowing parents to have a voice in this discussion. 

We are urging the Hart board do the right thing and adopt a parental notification policy that properly balances the legitimate rights of parents to be involved in life-altering, permanent decisions involving their minor children, and takes into account the also-legitimate concerns that some children may have about “coming out” to parents who they fear will not handle the news well.

The upshot? California must remember that the parents, not the state, are the custodians of their children.

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