Some school officials in Mississippi seem determined to keep parents out of their child’s education. But state lawmakers have a chance to join about two dozen other states that have prevented that from happening.

Mississippi legislators are considering a proposal that would create a parental bill of rights, reinforcing parents’ authority even when a child is on school grounds.

The proposal is simple, but powerful: Public employees, such as teachers and school administrators, cannot substantially burden a parent’s right to direct a child’s upbringing and health care.

What does this look like in practice?

When children start the school year, moms and dads typically have to sign forms stating a child’s allergies, directing the school to administer painkillers if a child is injured at recess, and consenting to basic medical treatment if a child is in need.

In today’s upside-down culture, however, school officials are allowing minor-age children to “change” their name and whether they want to be addressed as a boy or girl, regardless of his or her sex, while at school.

In some states, teachers do not have to tell parents that a child is making these choices during the school day.

What results is “social affirmation,” in which adults tell a child that yes, the child was born in the wrong body and should act as if they are someone they are not. That can foster a child’s desire to seek medical interventions, such as puberty blockers and hormone treatments and perhaps even surgeries that will damage their reproductive organs.

An exaggeration? Whistleblowers have exposed centers such as the St. Louis Children’s Hospital for prescribing children as young as 11 to take puberty-blocking drugs.

The results were horrific in some cases: Young women would return to the hospital bleeding through their clothes because testosterone treatments thin the vaginal wall, and the wall can then tear open. Some males experienced liver toxicity after taking drugs to make them appear more feminine.

Researchers continue to raise alarms as they find an overlap between mental illness or special needs such as autism and claims of sexual confusion among youth.

In the U.K., England’s National Health Service has recommended that doctors not encourage young people to assume a different “gender” because autism and anxiety and depression were often found in children expressing confusion over their sex. And research finds that this confusion resolves on its own as children progress into adulthood in 80% to 95% of cases, which means watchful waiting is far healthier for children than social affirmation. 

Yet some Mississippi educators are still pushing the dangerous “gender” agenda.

Parents Defending Education, an advocacy organization, uncovered that a school in Jackson received a grant to promote gender ideology. Oxford School District officials surveyed students and asked children if they identified as queer or “trans.” In Tupelo, teachers were trained to allow students to change their name and pronouns. Educators were instructed to call the child by his or her given name and pronouns when talking to parents unless the child gave a teacher permission to tell parents that the child had assumed a different gender—a secretive technique that hides information from families.

When a child is confused about their sex, social affirmation can have lasting consequences. Some medical treatments are irreversible and can lead to sterility and other complications.

For at least these reasons, school personnel should not be allowed to keep parents in the dark about what is happening to their young children in the classroom.

State legislators can help. For more than a decade, state lawmakers around the country have been adopting parental bills of rights similar to the proposal before Mississippi lawmakers. Legislators should state plainly that parents are a child’s primary caregivers and that public officials cannot burden, or obstruct, a parent’s role.

Teachers have a responsibility to report abuse or neglect, but that does not mean educators should accept a child’s self-diagnosis that he or she needs drugs to alter their body chemistry.

The reports from Jackson, Tupelo, and elsewhere demonstrate why Americans are increasingly skeptical about K-12 education.

Mississippi officials should increase academic transparency and strengthen parental rights, restoring a civic value in short supply today between local communities and their schools—specifically, public trust.