Support Parents’ Rights: Testimony in Support of SB 442

My name is Shannon Jaquette. I am the Policy and Education Analyst for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops and I am testifying in support of Senate Bill 442.

As the primary and principal educators of their children, parents have the right and responsibility to impart their values in all aspects of their children’s education, particularly regarding human sexuality, which addresses questions about the fundamental nature and purpose of the human person. The state’s role is secondary and serves to assist and support parents in the duty of educating their children.

SB 442 will vastly improve parents’ ability to determine what, if any, human sexuality instruction is provided to their children by public schools. Making public the minutes of every meeting of the local school health advisory council and requiring SHACs to hold public meetings that allow for public comment empowers parents to participate in the process of adopting curriculum and ensures that the values of local communities are respected. For those parents who are overburdened with the responsibilities of work and child-rearing and who may not have the time to engage in this process, which let’s be frank, describes most parents, this bill requires that parents be informed of the exact dates that human sexuality instruction will be provided and a detailed description of the content. It also requires that curriculum materials be posted on the district website and allows parents to request a copy through e-mail. These provisions are a substantial improvement to current statute and enable parents to make an informed decision, and if necessary, opt their children out of human sexuality instruction.

Pope Francis writes in Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love, “The State offers educational programs in a subsidiary way, supporting the parents in their indeclinable role; parents themselves enjoy the right to choose freely the kind of education…which they wish to give their children in accordance with their convictions. Schools do not replace parents but complement them.” We believe Senator Hughes’s bill acknowledges and respects this and that is why we support and urge you to pass SB 442.