If being a child is hard, then perhaps parenting is even harder, particularly when parents feel like they have lost control over the ideas and situations their child is being exposed to.
That’s why FACT and its legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, have taken an interest over the years protecting the rights of parents, particularly when it comes to matters of sexuality in our public schools and colleges and faith in God.
Helping Parents Protect Their Children’s Privacy
This year, Tennessee has been one of a small handful of states that fought for the right of parents to protect the privacy and safety of their children when using public school bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers.
The push to redefine “sex” to mean the “gender” one psychologically identifies with has come from the Obama administration’s Department of Education. Unfortunately, our state Department of Education abdicated to the U.S. Department of Education’s view of sex, advising elementary and secondary schools that if a student wanted to use a bathroom based on his or her “gender identity,” then the school had to allow it.
Legislation that would have required all public K-12 schools and colleges to designate multi-occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms by biological sex was filed in January.
When the House Education Committee scuttled the bill off to a “summer study” effort, effectively killing the bill for the year, FACT’s legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, fought hard to have the committee reconsider its action. With an outpouring of support from citizens, the House committee did reconsider its action and approved the bill. The Senate Education Committee also approved it. The bill was likely headed to a floor vote in each chamber when the House sponsor decided not to proceed with the bill, and it died.
Currently, given the Obama administration’s “guidance letter” and its ominous overtures regarding cuts to federal funds under Title IX, FACT is working with legislators to ensure that the state send a strong message to those in our educational system that the state will protect them from enforcement actions by the federal government or lawsuits by the ACLU.
Whatever the outcome of these efforts, FACT will continue to work to help parents protect the privacy and safety of the children they entrust to our public educational institutions.
Helping Parents Teach Abstinence
When a Nashville-area parent called in 2011 to tell us that his daughter, a junior in high school, had been provided a visible demonstration of how to put a condom on a boy during oral sex by use of an anatomically correct model, FACT examined our state’s “family life curriculum” laws and determined that they were horribly out-of-date. The terminology used was so generic that Planned Parenthood and LGBT advocates who infiltrated sex education classrooms could get away with just about anything. And there were no consequences for anything they did or for any educator who opened the door to them.
So Family Action of Tennessee, FACT’s legislative arm, brought to and helped pass through the Tennessee Legislature in 2012 what the National Abstinence Education Association in Washington, D.C., called the “strongest pro-abstinence law in the nation.”
And it put teeth in the law! Tennessee’s law is the only one in the nation that gives parents a “civil rights”-type cause of action against third party sex educators (such as Planned Parenthood) that break the law and promote sexual activity among students. It is like the civil rights laws in that it makes the cause of action effective by allowing parents who sue to recover their attorney’s fees if the law is broken.
Since then, legislators in other states have called asking for information about our bill for consideration in their own state.
Helping Parents Protect Their Child’s Faith
In 2010, FACT learned from parents in Knoxville that a public school textbook was undermining what they had taught their children about God and creation by referring to creation as a “myth.”
In response, FACT joined forces with the Discovery Institute to evaluate Tennessee’s science curriculum and biology textbooks. What we found was horrible. Grading showed that on the nine “icons of evolution,” the highest (best) score among the eight leading biology textbooks approved in Tennessee was a D-!
While the courts have made it clear that they will strike down any law opening the door to teaching intelligent design theory, let alone creation science, there was nothing to prevent teachers from helping their students develop critical thinking skills about controversial scientific theories such as evolution. That is, teachers could do that if they knew they could do so without getting in trouble!
So FACT’s legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, drafted a bill that protected public school teachers from any kind of disciplinary action if they helped students think critically about current scientific theories. After a two-year battle, the bill passed the Legislature in 2012. It was only the second bill of its kind to pass in the nation and remains one of only two such laws.
Of course, once the bill passed the Legislature, threats from the scientific community poured forth. However, the Governor decided to the let the bill become law without his signature in lieu of vetoing it, as he was pressured to do by outside organizations.
Thanks to your faithful prayers and generous financial support, we have come a long way in a decade to stand in the gap and advocate for life, family, marriage, and religious liberty in our state.