The Eau Claire Area School District in Wisconsin has jumped to the forefront of the parents’ rights debate, as leaked documents show officials are hiding key information about children’s gender identity from parents and being openly hostile to the sincerely held religious beliefs of parents.
Conflicts between parents and educators over who has the right to direct students’ education and personal well-being are causing a major divide within K-12 schools, leading to hostile policy actions against parents. The leader in this area up until now was Loudoun County, Virginia, where the district’s overreach was so egregious and parents so upset that the controversy helped lead to the surprise election of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
But in an opinion piece for Fox News, Ian Prior, the CEO and executive director of Fight for Schools and a senior adviser for America First Legal, says that Eau Claire has now taken the lead amongst a growing list of highly woke school districts that believe intersectionality is the highest personal virtue.
“You might not live in Wisconsin, or anywhere near it, but you need to pay very close attention to what’s going down in Eau Claire,” Prior wrote. “It’s now where the progressive playbook for hijacking education—and a range of other issues that must remain innate to parents—is being run. And know that playbook was meticulously designed by powerful forces and intended for nationwide implementation.”
Just recently, training materials were leaked that showed the school’s opinion of parents, their willingness to undermine the parent-child relationship, and their open hostility to religious belief.
“Some transgender, non-binary, and/or gender-nonconforming students are not ‘open’ at home for reasons that may include safety concerns or lack of acceptance,” the training advised. “School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent/guardian.”
It further ordered “facilitators” to tell teachers that “parents are not entitled to know their kids’ identities. That knowledge must be earned.” Facilitators were also told that parents’ religious objections to their child’s gender transition was “the weaponization of religion against queer people.”
The training added, “When the conversation turns to navigating parents’ faith-based rejection of their student’s queer identity it’s critical to remember that we must not act as stand-ins for oppressive ideas/behaviors/attitudes, even and especially if that oppression is coming from parents. Never forget that you may be the only supporting person in that student’s sphere. Guard and preserve that responsibility.”
One teacher allegedly hung a poster in her classroom that reads, “If Your Parents Aren’t Accepting Of Your Identity, I’m Your Mom Now.”
The school also has a policy allowing “non-gendered” students to use any “gendered” bathroom or changing facility of their choice with students of the opposite biological sex.
Additionally, the school has students take and grade themselves on white privilege and heterosexual privilege tests. At the end of the heterosexual privilege checklist, it says, “These dynamics are but a few examples of the privilege afforded to heterosexual people. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer-identified folk have a range of different experiences, but cannot count on most of these conditions in their lives.”
America First Legal tweeted a facsimile of the White Privilege test given to students:
The school defended its policy in a letter to parents. Superintendent Mike Johnson wrote,
“Our staff often find themselves in positions of trust with our students; it is occasionally a delicate balance. Elements from this staff training were shared without context and misleading claims were made about them. These claims were repeated and misconstrued further by outside media sources. While we all agree that collaboration between families, students and the school community is most beneficial — there are situations in which students do not wish to discuss issues with their families. Some federal courts have recognized student privacy rights on issues of gender and sexual orientation. If a child were to share their gender preference or sexual orientation with a staff member, and the staff member informed the parent without the child’s consent — this potentially violates the privacy rights of the student.“
The trainings have led one teacher to resign and look for employment elsewhere, saying to school leaders, “To say that I am upset about all of this would be an understatement. For you to understand the gravity of how I feel, I will let you know that I am actively looking for a job elsewhere.”
The teacher added, “When one person yesterday slightly spoke about the fact that this isn’t ‘their truth,’ more than one person had an extremely condescending response to it. How are we supposed to provide a ‘safe space’ for our students, when the adults in the building can’t even be open to the fact that other people don’t feel the exact same way they do? What about diversity of opinion?”
The situation in Eau Claire is exactly why parents have to be deeply involved in their child’s life and education. Schools now think that children belong to them, not parents.
The Supreme Court has often affirmed the parental right to direct the raising of their children. In Troxel v. Granville the Court wrote, “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.” The Court added, “choices [parents make] about the upbringing of children… are among associational rights… sheltered by the Fourteenth Amendment against the State’s unwarranted usurpation, disregard, or disrespect.”
The Eau Claire School District — and many, many others in all 50 states — is without question usurping, disregarding, and disrespecting parents’ rights by attempting to indoctrinate even the youngest children into what is effectively a radical, ideological cult. This is not a battle that can be counteracted from the sidelines. Parents must assert their rights by opening their eyes to what their children are being taught, demand transparency and accountability, and work with other parents to take action to stop it.
For those not sure about how to go about it, take a good look at the parents in Loudoun County, who successfully organized and used every tool in their toolbox, including the courts, recall petitions, protests, social media posts and media interviews, and the election process, to make their voices heard.