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Parental rights debate brings locals out to town hall

Posted at 7:12 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 22:12:12-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — From parental consent for minors' health care to inclusive and LGBTQ+ education, several topics concerning parental rights were discussed during a town hall Wednesday night, hosted by the religious and legal non-profit Pacific Justice Institute

  • Diana Hoien has a 14-year-old daughter in school. She said as her daughter gets older, she feels more and more out of the loop when it comes to her child's education and health.
  • It was a recent doctor's visit that brought her into the town hall hosted by Pacific Justice Institute Wednesday night, to learn what rights she has as a parent.

From parental consent for minors' health care to inclusive and LGBTQ+ education, several topics concerning parental rights were discussed during a town hall Wednesday night, hosted by the religious and legal non-profit Pacific Justice Institute

Diana Hoien has a 14-year-old daughter in school. She said as her daughter gets older, she feels more and more out of the loop when it comes to her child's education and health. In Hoien's case, it was a recent visit to her daughter's doctor that left her uneasy. She said everything was fine until the nurse practitioner began asking her daughter about boys.

"We knew that she was talking about birth control and an abortion and that [my daughter] could come in without me," she said. "That's the scariest thing as a parent, is like that everything could be done behind your back."

It was this visit that brought her into the town hall hosted by Pacific Justice Institute Wednesday night, to learn what rights she has as a parent.

"There's a lot of parents out there who are frustrated when they see policies that don't reflect their values," said Brad Dacus, a constitutional lawyer and president of PJI.

He said bringing Bakersfield parents, religious leaders, and those in the local education sector together for a town hall made sense after seeing responses from some parents regarding concerns over their children's health and education.

"In California, we have a lot of statewide legislation controlling school districts."

Kern County Board of Education Area 3 trustee Mary Little was among the panel at the town hall. She said they've seen contention from the public at their meetings, most recently regarding a new book policy for which some parents were in favor while others condemned it.

"If people really understood their rights, they could fight for their children better," she said.

Little also discussed one local school's policy allowing the school to affirm a child's gender identity without notifying parents, something that is not only being discussed here but across the state.

The parents right's group Protect Kids of California has been working to get an initiative on the ballot that would require all school districts to adopt parental notification policies. After submitting the initiative, the Attorney General’s Office renamed the initiative to “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth.”

The group sued the state over the name change in January. In April, a judge issued a tentative ruling siding in favor of the name change.

Some in attendance Wednesday disagreed with the point of view of the institute, questioning their motive for holding the town hall.

“How can we ever hope the next generation will know Christ when their Christian-Nationalist parents are committing human rights violations while simultaneously dismantling our current educational system in the name of parents' rights?" asked one attendee in protest of the meeting.

Dacus said their goal was to inform parents of their legal rights and how to advocate for themselves.

Meanwhile, the group Protect Kids of California has until May 28 to garner the signatures they need to get their initiative on the November ballot.


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