FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey this week ordered a local school district to “cease and desist” teaching students about human sexuality, including gender ideology, without parental consent ahead of time.
In a letter Monday exclusively obtained by The Daily Signal, Bailey also ordered the Webster Groves School District to review all classroom materials for compliance with the law.
“Failing to notify parents in advance, failing to provide parents with the content of the instruction and materials, failing to clearly offer an opportunity to opt out, or failing to uphold a parent’s opt-out decision violates Missouri law and represents a direct assault upon parents’ rights,” Bailey, a Republican, wrote to John Simpson, superintendent of schools for the Webster Groves district.
Tenth-graders at Webster Groves High School, in the suburbs of St. Louis, were required to watch a slideshow on “oppression and privilege” that appeared to violate state law by using information from a Planned Parenthood affiliate that lists abortion clinics on its website, The Daily Signal reported in October.
The website of the Planned Parenthood affiliate, Teen Health Source, tells teens about “porn literacy” and “hookups” for casual sex. The organization defines abortion as “a safe medical procedure that ends a pregnancy” and suggests “trangender care” clinics that offer minors sterilizing hormone therapy and referrals for transgender surgery.
“My office has received reports that Webster Groves School District has provided materials related to human sexuality to students without notifying parents in advance, without providing a clear opportunity for parents to opt-out their child, and in some instances refusing to honor parents’ opt-out decisions,” Bailey says in his letter to Simpson.
The Missouri attorney general describes the slideshow presentation as discussing gender identity, sexual orientation, and abortion, all topics of “human sexuality.”
“Missouri law requires every school district and charter school to notify each student’s parent or guardian before providing any human sexuality materials or instruction to students,” Bailey writes to the Webster Groves superintendent, citing specific provisions of law. “Schools must provide to parents the content of any human sexuality materials or instruction and give parents the opportunity to opt their child out.”
Derek Duncan, communications director for the school district, confirmed Friday that Simpson had received Bailey’s letter.
“We did receive a notice from the AG’s office,” Duncan told The Daily Signal. “We will address and respond to the concerns raised in a cooperative and transparent manner.”
Parents have the “natural right” to direct their children’s upbringing and education, Bailey tells Simpson in the letter:
According to long-established Supreme Court precedent and Missouri state statute, schools must respect parents’ rights concerning human sexuality instruction and materials. Specifically, this means that schools must notify parents in advance and provide them with information about the instructional content and materials that will be shared with their children in order to give each parent a clear opt-out opportunity. Plainly stated, parents get to make decisions about the kind of human sexuality education their children will receive and schools are legally obligated to respect parents’ decisions.
Bailey ordered the district to “cease and desist” its use of human sexuality materials that have not been approved by parents in advance and to review all its class materials.
“Moreover, Webster Groves School District must immediately review all instructional resources, including reading lists, classroom and campus libraries, and any diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging materials that address issues of human sexuality, to ensure they comply with state law,” Bailey writes.
The Webster Groves school system had destroyed her family’s trust in school officials’ judgment, one mother told The Daily Signal in response Friday to the attorney general’s order.
“Their pattern of hiding gender ideology education from parents is well established and it’s simply a matter of time before parental rights are once again violated with an inappropriate survey, slideshow, or nudge towards activism,” the mother, who asked not to be identified, said.
She said she hopes Bailey’s letter will create a sense of urgency for Simpson as superintendent.
“He must draw a hard line with would-be activist staff—inform parents ahead of any human sexuality content or consequences will follow,” she said.
This report was modified within two hours of publication to add the school parent’s reaction to the attorney general’s order.
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