Parents in the state of Nevada won a significant political victory last week – but only just barely. On Thursday, Governor Brian Sandoval, acting as the last check to a Democrat-led legislator run wild, vetoed a nefarious bill which had no other purpose than to undercut, silence and subvert the voice of parents in the matter of educating their children.
That is really the kindest way one can refer to Assembly Bill 348: the bill proposing changes to sex education programs in the state. While its supporters will claim that it was just a minor measure making small adjustments to state law having little real significance; the ramifications behind the bill, and the agenda it served, could have ended up being earth-changing for parents and students alike.
The changes proposed in the AB348 were subtle and crafty. In just a few words it would have shifted the meaning of the long-held ‘opt-in’ policy of the state; eroding just a little of parent authority away from the sex ed process. And with a single turn of phrase the measure would have opened the door to an expansion of the sex ed curriculum that would be much more broad and comprehensive than most parents in the state could stomach. In short, AB348 would have been just the tip of an immense wedge which could later be used to split the whole issue wide open.
Perhaps the most astounding point is that the bill passed at all. Just who were the majority Democrats in the legislature respresenting when they voted for it? Certainly not the majority of parents in the state.
The question of just where most parents stand on this issue should have been settled long ago. Their position has been made very clear. After all, this is not the first time the issue has been raised. The idea of comprehensive sex ed has come numerous times before boards of trustees in school districts around the state. Each time it has brought together parents from all walks of life, to speak against it. Nearly every race, religion, ethnic group, political leaning; has unified again and again in opposition to these ideas.
Clark County alone has had numerous evening meetings where trustees have decided to test the waters on this issue. Those are the meetings that couldn’t be held in the usual board meeting chamber because of the crowd. Instead they had to be scheduled in a huge hall or theatre. Those are the meetings that have lasted late into the night, sometimes until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning on a weeknight. Those are the meetings that parents have endured through, tired but undaunted, to await the outcome. Those are the meetings where the audience demographic is always similar. A clear and overwhelming majority in the over-packed hall are concerned parents speaking in firm opposition to comprehensive sex ed. And a much smaller group, made up of non-parents: Planned Parenthood types, college students and/or LGBTQ activists; speak in favor of policies that will affect other people’s children.
These meetings are always the same, sometimes even featuring the same faces saying the same things. So it should have been no mystery to state legislators which direction the wind was blowing as far as the majority of Nevada’s parents are concerned.
So, why does this matter keep raising its head? Because the Democrats, and their liberal left wing, continue to insist that they know, better than parents, what is best for the children of the state. They believe those who do not agree with their views, even if it be the broad majority, are sick. They believe they are well. Only they know what the best medicine is to fix the rest of us. And they are determined to shove that medicine down the throats of parents, even over their clear objections. Fortunately it was not successful this time.
But rest assured, this will not be the end of this issue. This particular battle may be won, but the war is far from over. There will be more late night trustee meetings, more sex ed bills before the legislature and more attempted despicable end-runs around sensible parent positions. Parents who want to preserve the right of deciding important matters in the education of their children will have to stay ever vigilant and be prepared to show up and speak up in unfriendly places. That is just the reality we face.
But for now, a hearty congratulations to all those who made their voices heard. No doubt, a healthy share of the triumph can be claimed by Moapa Valley parents who mobilized quickly in phone calls and email campaigns to the legislature and the governor’s office expressing opposition to this bill. Though the Moapa Valley community is small, and few in number, it has spoken with a mighty voice on this issue; both at the district, and now at the state, level.
If nothing else, this experience gives a renewed hope that we still live in a land where the common people, the grass-roots folks back at home, still have a voice; and where that voice still matters for something.
While we are slapping backs though, a final kudos goes out to the Governor who vetoed the bill. Wherever he personally stands on the substance of the sex ed bill, he stood firm on the principles he has previously set for education reform in the state. In his veto, he was consistent in his ideal of bringing more of the decision-making about education back to a local level.
Nowhere is the value of this ideal more evident than in sex education issues. Judgment calls about the more controversial aspects of sex education; just how, when and whether children should be indoctrinated into them; have absolutely no place in the one-size-fits-all realm of the state legislature.
Those decisions are deeply personal ones and should be respected on all sides. Decisions about them belong at the smallest scale possible. Consensus should be built in the community. Policies should be formed in the individual school. And the values underscoring all of that, should have their genesis in the home with the parents where such things belong.