As we celebrate “Independence Day,” or the founding of our great country, this July and at the same time watch the protests and counter-protests at the Texas Capitol during the second special session for the Texas Legislature, I am reminded that liberty and freedom are not free.
Some home schoolers will read the Declaration of Independence as an educational approach to celebrating the birth of the United States of America and will no doubt review the struggle of the colonists during the American Revolution. They will study what has often been referred to as the hand of Providence in the unlikely victory of outgunned, outmanned colonial freedom fighters against the greatest world power of that day.
Reviewing that history reminds me that every generation must at some points stand up and defend its own freedom. Having just finished another Texas legislative session, my mind is still contemplating the battles that THSC fought on behalf of Texas parents and home schoolers.
With the help of interns that we fondly called the THSC Watchmen, we spent well over 5,000 man hours and tens of thousands of dollars to push for freedom for Texas parents and to oppose many efforts to limit that freedom.
For the third legislative session in a row, we worked to pass the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act and, although we were not successful, made greater progress in that effort than ever before. In fact, the chief lobbyist for the Family Law Foundation, who has steadfastly and aggressively opposed these efforts, complained to us that they have had to spend time and money for three sessions to oppose our efforts. In fact, they even tried to pass legislation to make every fit parent in Texas susceptible to lawsuits by any grandparent to sue for possession of their children. By God’s grace, we were successful in killing that attempt to undermine parental rights in Texas.
This session we also made more progress than ever before in changing the law to allow home schoolers to take part in extracurricular activities in public schools with the passing of SB 929 in the Texas Senate. Although the bill was killed by Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, we believe it had enough support to pass the House as well.
We will raise both of these issues in the next regular session and will continue to do so until we are successful in passing them into law.
In the meantime we also monitored more than 100 bills, many of which were detrimental to parental rights and/or home schooling in Texas. Some of these bills, like SB 303, were the focus of many other groups, and we worked hand-in-hand with allies to modify or kill them. SB 303 would have taken away the right of parents to make end-of-life medical decisions for their children and would have allowed doctors to make those decisions without any liability.
Other bills, like SB 768 and SB 429, were bills that gave too much power and authority to CPS over families, and we were almost alone in our opposition to those. State Rep. Jonathan Stickland killed SB 768, at our request, with a bold and courageous parliamentary move against serious opposition. When told by the bill’s supporters that this bill would allow the state of Texas to gain millions of dollars in federal funding, he replied that allowing CPS to hurt even one innocent family was not worth those millions of dollars.
SB 429 gave too much new power to judges with regard to fit parents. We could never agree that it is best practices for any court to make any parenting decisions that affect a fit parent, unless a fit parent invites the court to do so. This bill would have allowed the state to substitute its judgment for that of a fit parent. Simply because what we believe to be an unconstitutional interference into the parent-child relationship might be permitted in other circumstances, we cannot agree that it well serves Texas families to increase the circumstances under which this occurs. Based on that reasoning, we asked Governor Perry to veto SB 429, which he did.
While we are disappointed in the failure of the Texas Legislature to pass legislation allowing University Interscholastic League participation for home schoolers and legislation to protect fit single parents from lawsuits filed by vindictive in-laws, we are thankful for the many successes in protecting home schoolers and parental rights in this legislative session and we are grateful for your prayers, financial support, and responses to our calls to action that enabled us to do so.