To the editor:
I would like to offer my perspective on the front-page article that ran in the Jackson Hole Daily on Friday, January 20, 2023. As a father, educator, and private school principal here in Jackson, I am concerned that the article, authored by Jeannette Boner, offered readers of our community an imbalanced, biased perspective, which could lead to inaccurate conclusions among JH Daily readers.
The article addressed Bill SF0117, which Mrs. Boner stated: “seeks to chip away at students’ right to privacy.” This statement seems to be quite biased. To be clear, who exactly is Mrs. Boner (as well as the ACLU and the Wyoming Education Association, whom she goes on to cite) claiming that students have a right to privacy from? From their own parents?! Any conscientious, loving parent would surely want to be aware of what their children are being taught in regard to sexuality and/or LGBTQ+ ideology while at school - especially if their own child were wrestling with such issues. Bill SF0117 merely seeks to ensure that parents have the right to not have this kind of information withheld from them, as has been happening in many public school districts around the country.
I have never met the officials who introduced this bill (Sen. Dockstader and Rep. Allred), but having read through this bill myself, I have concluded that this piece of legislation merely seeks to protect children as well as the children’s parents’ right to know what is going on in their children’s lives, and thus I believe it must be supported.
I believe that JH Daily’s coverage of this bill has been biased and imbalanced, as I stated above. For example, Mrs. Boner’s article quoted at length two organizations criticizing the bill, but the only citation provided in support of the bill was one very brief (19 words) quotation from Sen. Dockstader himself. Additionally, Mrs. Boner’s article compares Bill SF0117 to a similar bill introduced in Florida, but Mrs. Boner never actually states the truthful name of that bill (HB [House Bill] 1557); instead, she referred to the term which critics in the media have given it, the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” even though the word “gay” never once occurs in that bill - nor in Bill SF0117. In using this biased media term to describe Florida’s bill, and entirely neglecting the bill’s truthful name, Mrs. Boner and JH Daily presented an inaccurate and biased perspective on the reality of the bill that has been introduced by Senator Dockstader.
This article stated that “critics” (though it does not clarify who, specifically) claim that Bill SF0117 would “silence students from speaking about their LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit family members, friends, and neighbors.” In reality, however, Senator Dockstader’s bill never mentions anything of the sort. What the bill does stipulate is that teachers and schools may not teach about these controversial issues to children in Kindergarten through 3rd grades. Who could sincerely and in good conscience argue against this?
Even in regard to non-LGBTQ+ ideologies, or any other worldview that parents may strongly disagree with, would we not want teachers and schools to avoid instructing on sexual issues with very young students? Are these not such important issues that parents should help their children to understand these issues themselves? Even if you are not an Evangelical Christian - as I am - or do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and the only infallible guide to life, salvation, and morality - as I do - surely anyone with a moral compass of any kind would understand even from the perspective of Natural Law that it is the child’s parents who bear the right and responsibility to educate, guide, and nurture their children in regard to these issues of morality, sexuality, and identity. Again, most children in kindergarten through 3rd grade are only around ages 5 to 8 years old. Such young children are extremely precious and therefore require delicate care, nurturing, leading, and teaching in these areas. They also require protection from ideologies and lifestyles that have been scientifically proven to cause great harm to the individual.
Parents should not commission this job to the state-run school districts while neglecting their God-given duties as parents. Let’s all remember that school districts (both public and private) work for the parents of the students, not the other way around. That is, after all, why the parents pay tuition to private schools and tax dollars, which fund the public schools.
Senator Dockstader’s Bill SF0117 seeks to proactively protect children from harmful ideologies by requiring transparency from schools in regard to the children who have been entrusted to their care. This bill also provides accountability to schools when/if they refuse to provide transparency to parents. Why would any honest school district honestly want to avoid this by eliminating parental involvement in their children’s lives? In light of what has been recently revealed from many school districts around the country, Bill SF0117 seeks to be preventive in what many have considered to be the “grooming” of young children into an ideology which is contradictory to the values of their parents and detrimental to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children.
Many school districts around the country have even included books in children’s libraries which contain explicit sexual images of immoral and even illegal sexual acts. Bill SF0117 seeks to prevent exposing young children to this; as these things constitute what many agree is a form of child abuse. Also included in the bill is the requirement that school districts make parents aware at the start of each school year of what their rights as parents are.
As a father, educator, and school principal, I believe that the role of a school in relation to parents should be that of a partnership, giving deference to the parents’ wishes, supporting the role of parents and their right/responsibility to be the primary leaders of their own children. Schools do not have authority over children; parents do. Any authority that schools may have is strictly a delegated authority given to them by the parents.
In this age in which we live, it is incumbent upon all of us in this community - especially parents and educators - to be rethinking what it is to educate and protect children. Let us be evaluating and dialoguing about the role of schools in regard to parents and families. Our children are too precious to not give ourselves diligently to the great work and the high calling of raising children.