However, these rights vary by state and school, which is why Anderson urges parents to stay actively involved.
“Even in states where there aren't clear laws, schools are more likely to allow an opt-out instead of fighting with parents about it and ending up in litigation,” she said.
What should parents look for?
Unfortunately, sex education is not the only problem. Objectionable content is everywhere — in other subjects, school libraries, and summer reading lists.
“I think parents are very hyper-aware of what's going on in [their child’s] health class,” Bethany Mandel, homeschool mother of five and editor of the children’s book series Heroes of Liberty, said to CNA.
“But what a lot of people don't realize is that teachers are sneaking this kind of content into reading instruction time, or even math,” she explained.
Gender ideology and critical race theory are being mainstreamed in all courses, within school culture and even in anti-bullying signs around the building, according to Theresa Farnan, a Catholic author and moral philosopher who co-founded the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s (EPPC) Person & Identity Project.
Children can also be exposed to harmful content through extracurricular activities, school surveys, guest lecturers, organizations that partner with the school, and even field trips.
“At the end of the day, you're still dealing with an apparatus that has captured the public schools. If you are in the public schools, you've got to be really realistic,” she told CNA.
Farnan is the co-author of Get Out Now: Why You Should Pull Your Child from Public School Before It’s Too Late, and says the only way parents can fully control their child’s education is by homeschooling or finding a faithful Catholic school.
“That’s the only real right parents have,” she said, “The only way [public schools] are going to take that seriously, is the fact that that parents are pulling their kids out.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Parents must be informed and organized
Both Farnan and Mandel recognize that for some, however, public schools are the only option.
“There are some families that right now cannot get out of the public schools,” Farnan said, adding that many families whose children have special needs aren’t accommodated by all Catholic schools and need extra support.
Farnan said she came across special ed curricula in Seattle, Washington, that had a module on sex education that referred to Planned Parenthood as a “trusted resource” for special needs students.
“That's part of the great betrayal of trust that's going on here,” she said. “We can’t abandon them.”
Mandel went to public school herself. When asked what parents can do if public school is their only option, she said engagement is the number one tool parents have.