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Parents get angered over LGBTQ education bills

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Good morning! It’s Monday, August 28. On August 21, just outside the California State Assembly building in Sacramento, approximately 500 parents, including over 50 Korean Americans, gathered to protest a series of educational bills which they believe encroach upon their parental rights for their children in secondary schools. Their picket signs read, “My child is not your science experiment.”
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Amidst deliberations on several bills perceived to limit parental rights, over 500 parents, including Korean Americans, rallied outside the California state legislators’ offices in Sacramento on August 21.  [Courtesy of Mindy Shin]

Around 500 concerned parents staged a protest rally outside the California State Assembly building in Sacramento on August 21. Among the protesters were more than 50 Korean American parents, including members of TVNEXT, a group advocating for preserving traditional values for the next generation. They were holding picket signs, on which was written, “My child is not your science experiment”.

What they voiced vehement objections to is a series of educational bills currently under review in the California legislature. As they see it, the bills would infringe on their parental rights over their children attending secondary schools.

The bills that sparked the protest are to:
– Allow minors over the age of 12 to receive gender identity counseling without parental consent (AB 665).
– Permit school staff to introduce curriculum on LGBTQ culture and assess parents’ stance on such education (AB 5).
– Define parental criticism of a child’s gender identity as child abuse (AB 957).
– Forbid local school boards from excluding textbooks offering diverse views on race, gender, and sexuality, including LGBTQ perspectives (AB 1078).
– Penalize parents who disagree with their child’s expressed sexual orientation or gender identity (AB 5).
– Introduce fines or potential imprisonment for parents who materially disrupt school functions in the context of these matters (SB 596).

In other words, 1) parents would be excluded from decisions about education on gender identity and sexual orientation, or LGBTQ education; 2) parents would be punished as child abusers if they voiced criticism or disagreement about their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity; 3) parents would face fines or imprisonment if they oppose LGBTQ education through means such as sending emails or other actions. 
In short, these bills, if passed as they stand, would gag parents on LGBTQ education in schools.

Conservative parents argue that these bills undermine parents’ educational rights and grant excessive control to the state over local school districts. Korean-American parents, who hold traditional family values dear, fear that their impressionable children could be influenced towards LGBTQ identity through school education.
 “Parents who oppose these bills have been proactive, visiting legislators’ offices to convey our concerns,” said Mindy Shin, 41, from Fullerton.

The widespread protest has not gone unnoticed in legislative chambers. For instance, AB 1078, which seeks to prevent exclusions of LGBTQ topics from textbooks, was temporarily halted in an Assembly committee on August 21, presumably in response to the strong public backlash. Several other bills, including AB 1078, SB596, and AB5, have now been moved to the “suspension file” in the California State Assembly, a measure typically taken to assess the financial implications of proposed legislation. A bill with yearly costs exceeding $150,000 can be relegated to this file to assess fiscal implications. Essentially, it’s shelved for future review, contingent upon budget scrutiny and available resources.

As reported by nonprofit newsroom CalMatters on August 22, parents and school districts now grapple with the state government following the Capitol protest. Sonja Shaw, president of the Chino Valley Unified School District, said, “High-ranking officials seem to be prioritizing their ideology in public education at the expense of parental rights.” Rachel Johnson, a teacher at Los Angeles Unified School District, pointed to tangible repercussions of these proposed policies: “We’re seeing a notable increase in homeschooling and private school enrollments, likely because many California parents are uneasy about the state’s educational directives.”

The California Republican Party is firmly backing parental rights, initiating a “parent revolt” program to groom future leaders for local school boards. 
The conservative party highlighted the lack of opposition in school board candidacies, stating, “Given the Democratic Party’s stronghold, school board positions are monopolized due to a dearth of alternative candidates. This has led to an extreme tilt in education policy. Parents deserve a direct say in their children’s schooling.”

By Mooyoung Lee   lee.mooyoung@koreadaily.com

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