The Issue of Freedom and Liberty

The issue of freedom and liberty is often discussed during the Texas legislative sessions. It is discussed in relation to tax rates and how much of their own money taxpayers are able to keep. It has been discussed in regard to lawsuit reform and the desire for people to be protected from frivolous and harassing lawsuits. And, of course, it is also the point of discussion in regard to legislation designed to protect innocent human life.

However, when we raise the issue of the freedom and liberty—indeed, the fundamental right—of parents to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children, the response is very often to focus on the exceptions. In fact, even on the issue of education, there are teachers who are saying, “I am tired of this attitude about parents knowing what is best for their children,” and there are those who argue against a school choice legislation that would provide funding that would follow the child to the school his parents choose. The teacher quoted in that blog post apparently disagreed with the statement of a state commissioner of education who said, “To me, it’s a moral outrage that the government would say, ‘We know what’s best for your child.’ Who are we to tell parents we know better?” No wonder some people do not support the fundamental right of parents.

When we discuss innocent families who are harassed as the result of anonymous complaints to CPS, we are told that the law should not be changed because people might not be willing to make complaints otherwise, and children might suffer. This view, of course, ignores the fact that the vast majority of complaints are unfounded and that there is virtually no way to prevent the use of CPS as a weapon against innocent parents. But many if not most legislators think the rights of parents should be secondary to “protecting children.”

The term “fit,” as in “fit parent,” is a term that means the parents provide for the needs of their children and are not abusive or neglectful. I was castigated by someone when I pointed to a South Texas judge who was temporarily removed from office after his daughter posted a video of him beating her. He himself had been determining whether parents were fit enough to keep their children. Although officials noted that he could have been charged with criminal abuse, he was not charged, because the statute of limitations had expired. While my detractor argued that I should not make a distinction between fit parents, parents do not, of course, have a right to abuse their children.

While we continue to discuss the need to amend the Grandparent Access Statute that is being abused to allow grandparents to take children from fit single parents and/or drive them into bankruptcy in order to keep their own children, the first response from many legislators is to defend the need for grandparents to have access to  their grandchildren rather than to acknowledge the fundamental right of fit parents to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their own children and to protect innocent parents.

Bills have been filed this session in the Texas House that will make this matter even worse. The bills would allow grandparents to sue even intact families and would lower the standards necessary for grandparents to prevail against fit parents. These kinds of bills are being filed all across the country, and it is no exaggeration to say that there is an assault against parental rights at every level.

As we have documented often in the past, Germany continues to ban home schooling under a Nazi-era law that essentially says parents do not have the right to teach their children at home because the state—not parents—has the right to indoctrinate children. A year or so ago a German home school family fled their country and sought political asylum in this country, claiming that if they were forcibly returned to Germany, they would have their children taken from them. The Obama Justice Department is now seeking to overturn the judge’s order in that case, which granted asylum, by arguing the State has a right to deny parents the right to home school their children. In other words, our federal government is now supporting the position that parents do not have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children. This is clearly an assault on an individual liberty that has enjoyed support since the founding of this country.

While there are numerous organizations that seek to defend the rights of the unborn, the rights of taxpayers and small businesses, and essentially every other group, THSC is virtually the only group that is advocating for the rights of parents.

A great example is the fact that all Texas parents are legally able to provide driver education to their children, a direct result of the work that THSC and the home school community did in 1995 and 1997. When opponents tried to repeal this legislation, they offered a “deal” in which only home schoolers would be able to teach their children to drive. We rejected that deal for two reasons: We knew it would result in DPS seeking to validate who was and was not a home schooler, and we also believed that every parent should have the right to teach their children to drive. Today, Texas is one of a handful of states that allows parents to teach their children to drive, because home schoolers understand the critical nature of parental rights.

THSC is working hard to defend the right of parents during this current Texas legislative session, whether that involves parent taught driver education, CPS, grandparent access, UIL participation, or any of a host of other issues that many legislators seem to overlook or ignore when it comes to how these issues affect innocent families and fit parents. Thank you for your continued prayers and support during this critical time as we work to be able to continue to say, “Welcome to Texas, where people are free!”