Stefanik rolls out ‘bill of rights’ for servicemember parents to ensure transparency in DOD schools
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EXCLUSIVE: House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik is introducing a “Servicemember Parents Bill of Rights” to ensure parental involvement in their children’s education and increased transparency in Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
The “bill of rights” for military parents is being rolled out by Stefanik, R-N.Y., as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
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“America’s servicemembers have the right to be informed and involved in their children’s education, and it is unbelievable that some DoDEA educators do not trust with their own children the very men and women in uniform who keep our nation safe and secure,” Stefanik told Fox News.
Stefanik was referring to Department of Defense Education Activity schools “training materials,” including documents and a video, that a concerned parent gave to her office.
The video shared with Stefanik’s office, and with Fox News, shows teachers discussing keeping parents in the dark about their children’s gender identity inside the classroom.
“A lot of caregivers will substitute at this school. I’ve had a student who is not out at home in their gender identity—but their mom substitutes at our school, so, you know, like, navigating those waters,” one teacher says. “Communication is just the biggest thing.”
Another teacher comes onto the screen and says that they “talk about this on creating safe space for our students.”
“We want them to clearly be safe at school, but we don’t want that to infringe upon their safety at home,” the teacher says, suggesting that educators will not share students’ gender identities with their parents.
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“Sometimes, the reality is our students can’t come out at home for a variety of reasons and so we need to make sure we are crystal clear this might be the only place where they can truly be themselves, and use their name, and use their pronouns, but we would never want to put them at risk at home for safety if that is something that is going to cause some problems for them outside of the classroom,” the teacher says, adding that they are “being really nitpicky about when it is okay because we want to be crystal clear with students.”
“In some cases, they do want to be their true selves with us as their safe adults and supportive adults, but if we’re their one safe adult, that means home is not a safe place for them,” the teacher continued, adding that she sees “a range of parent support.”
“Ranging from parents who are fully on board in helping with name changes and gender marker changes on legal documents, all the way to the other end where the students don’t feel like they can ever come out to their parents,” the teacher said. “And so we just have to be respectful about what they need to feel safe.”
Next, a document was shared with Stefanik, which was shared with Fox News titled “The Genderbread Person,” which outlines gender identity, gender expression, biological sex and sexual orientation for students.
Another document was a screenshot from a slide in video presentation given by DoDEA that states “Yes, you CAN talk about LGBTQ+ in elementary school!”
“It is actually the ideal time,” the slide states. “Kids as young as 4 years old are already starting to develop a stable understanding of their gender identity…and choosing their friend groups based on gender (among other social constructs, such as race).”
Stefanik told Fox News that “there is no need for elementary school students to be taught radical gender ideology.”
“Parents deserve full transparency from DoDEA schools about what is being taught in their child’s classroom,” Stefanik said. “As our men and women serving overseas look out for our own safety, I will continue to stand up for them and protect the rights of our servicemember parents over their child’s education.”
DoDEA did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Stefanik’s “bill of rights” for service member parents calls for the right to review the school’s curriculum; the right to know if the school alters its academic standards; the right to meet with each teacher of their child not less than twice during the year; the right to review all instructional materials and teacher professional development materials used by the school; the right to inspect books and other reading materials at the library of the school; and more.
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The bill of rights also would require each DoDEA school to post the curriculum for each course and grade level on the school website; make all instructional and educator professional development materials available for inspection by parents; and more.
Stefanik also proposed that DoDEA schools “notify parents of any medical examinations or screenings the school may administer to their child and receive written consent from parents prior to conducting the examination or screening;” and to notify parents of any medical information collected on their child, among other things.
The military has come under scrutiny recently from Republicans in Congress for enacting new diversity and inclusion initiatives, which they say takes away from the military’s core mission of protecting the country.
However, former Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby previously dismissed these claims by the GOP, saying the argument of “wokeness” in the military is “driving a stake through a straw man,” and diversity and inclusion actually make the military stronger.
A similar amendment was proposed by GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn last week titled “Stop Experimenting With Military Children,” which stated that parents, “not woke teachers,” should be at the center of their children’s education.
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The senator cited examples of Department of Defense (DOD) teachers who have claimed it is “appropriate” to hide a child’s gender transition from his or her parents.
Blackburn’s amendments failed in the Senate.
Fox News’ Kelly Laco contributed to this report.