If you are a parent, be sure to understand your rights.
Most of us have heard about a patient’s Bill of Rights for medical care, but there is also a “parents’” Bill of Rights which is gaining in traction, yet few people know about it. For example, here in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed into law the Parents’ Bill of Rights on June 29th, and made effective July 1st. The law enumerates the rights parents and legal guardians have to “direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health” of their child.
Florida joins a handful of states who have enacted similar legislation, including Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. Although the verbiage is similar but not quite the same, these laws clearly reinforce the concept the authority of raising children belongs to the parents or legal guardians, not the state. For more information on this movement, see the web page, “Parental Rights.”
In Florida’s case, the law makes it clear education, health care, and morality/religious decisions rest with parents, not with the state, specifically school systems. In its present form, the Florida law is a good first attempt, but refinements will likely be forthcoming. For example, the rights of Foster Parents is not clear. Other states are working on this, Florida will likely follow suit. Also, there is nothing in the law allowing parents to follow what is going on in their child’s classroom, such as an audio/video feed. Section 1-D on access to school records may do the trick, but this would likely be a stretch. Nevertheless, the law is now in place and parents should be made aware of its content. To this end, I am enclosing the Florida law below. You may want to print this for future reference:
(1) All parental rights are reserved to the parent of a minor child in this state without obstruction or interference from the state, any of its political subdivisions, any other governmental entity, or any other institution, including, but not limited to, all of the following rights of a parent of a minor child in this state:
(a) The right to direct the education and care of his or her minor child.
(b) The right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child.
(c) The right, pursuant to s. 1002.20(2)(b) and (6), to apply to enroll his or her minor child in a public school or, as an alternative to public education, a private school, including a religious school, a home education program, or other available options, as authorized by law.
(d) The right, pursuant to s. 1002.20(13), to access and review all school records relating to his or her minor child.
(e) The right to make health care decisions for his or her minor child, unless otherwise prohibited by law.
(f) The right to access and review all medical records of his or her minor child, unless prohibited by law or if the parent is the subject of an investigation of a crime committed against the minor child and a law enforcement agency or official requests that the information not be released.
(g) The right to consent in writing before a biometric scan of his or her minor child is made, shared, or stored.
(h) The right to consent in writing before any record of his or her minor child’s blood or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is created, stored, or shared, except as required by general law or authorized pursuant to a court order.
(i) The right to consent in writing before the state or any of its political subdivisions makes a video or voice recording of his or her minor child unless such recording is made during or as part of a court proceeding or is made as part of a forensic interview in a criminal or Department of Children and Families investigation or is to be used solely for the following purposes:
1. A safety demonstration, including the maintenance of order and discipline in the common areas of a school or on student transportation vehicles;
2. A purpose related to a legitimate academic or extracurricular activity;
3. A purpose related to regular classroom instructions;
4. Security or surveillance of buildings or grounds; or
5. A photo identification card.
(j) The right to be notified promptly if an employee of the state, any of its political subdivisions, any other governmental entity, or any other institution suspects that a criminal offense has been committed
against his or her minor child, unless the incident has first been reported to law enforcement or the
Department of Children and Families and notifying the parent would impede the investigation.
(2) This section does not:
(a) Authorize a parent of a minor child in this state to engage in conduct that is unlawful or to abuse or neglect his or her minor child in violation of general law;
(b) Condone, authorize, approve, or apply to a parental action or decision that would end life;
(c) Prohibit a court of competent jurisdiction, law enforcement officer, or employees of a government agency that is responsible for child welfare from acting in his or her official capacity within the reasonable and prudent scope of his or her authority; or
(d) Prohibit a court of competent jurisdiction from issuing an order that is otherwise permitted by law.
(3) An employee of the state, any of its political subdivisions, or any other governmental entity who
encourages or coerces, or attempts to encourage or coerce, a minor child to withhold information from
his or her parent may be subject to disciplinary action.
(4) A parent of a minor child in this state has inalienable rights that are more comprehensive than those listed in this section, unless such rights have been legally waived or terminated.
This chapter does not prescribe all rights to a parent of a minor child in this state. Unless required by law, the rights of a parent of a minor child in this state may not be limited or denied. This chapter may not be construed to apply to a parental action or decision that would end life.
Obviously, this law does not sit well with those who believe the government should have more control over children as opposed to parents; e.g., those who believe face masks should be mandatory in the classroom.
Keep the Faith!
Dr. Rich Swier