CAS Legal Mailbag – 11/3/22 – Education | Media Pyro

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Love Rule Mailbox:

Yesterday, I received a form letter from a parent, stating his religious beliefs, asserting that he has the right to raise his child according to the Bible, and showing the worry about what will happen to his child at school. Parents are entitled to their opinion, and that’s fine with me. But he continued:

Therefore, I reserve the right to ban my child from all activities, events, programs and media that do not align with our beliefs and values, without penalty. This waiver applies throughout the time my child attends public school and must be kept in his/her permanent file.

As a parent/guardian, I expect my child to:

1. Any instruction, celebration, teaching, video presentation, document, or activity that the family house approves and approves of other than one that shows the creation of the God is male and female. This includes the concepts of gender in addition to reflecting the gender at birth of only two: male and female.

2. Same-sex parents.

The list went on and on, but the first two requests hit me for looping. We teach tolerance in our school. We teach that love begets a family, and our curriculum includes pictures of different types of families. I deeply respect the right of parents to hold their own religious views and raise their children according to those views. However, I can’t figure out how to accomplish this request. Should we do it?

Signed,

Finding Leads

Love searching:

You don’t.

Public schools have an affirmative responsibility to integrate the religious practices of parents and students. A student should not be penalized, for example, for missing school or for doing schoolwork to celebrate a religious holiday. But that action does not go beyond this parent’s request. Students’ exposure to ideas and practices that parents may not approve of is part of school life, and courts have rejected claims that it violates the religious rights of parents and their children. However, school officials have the right to set the curriculum, and parents are free to send their children to public schools to take that curriculum, “or to demonstrate that others have where the child receives lessons equivalent to those taught in public schools” as Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-184(a). Parents can demonstrate this by enrolling their children in a private school or by providing home schooling.

There are exceptions to the general rule that students attending public schools must be required to attend classes even if a parent objects to the curriculum being taught. Under Connecticut law, parents can request in writing that their children be excluded from specific areas of the curriculum. These purposes and the legal authority under which such an offer is accepted are as follows:

  • It has been studied in allergic diseases. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-19(b).

  • Family life lessons. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-16e.

  • Weapons safety programs. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-18c.

  • Communication and awareness of abuse. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-101q(c).

  • Separation. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-18d.

In each such case, parents will only object in writing and must agree to these curricular programs and activities.

Here, the parent does not exercise the right of statutory exemption. Instead, the parent is asking that her child not be asked to attend any other classes that present ideas about gender and family that differ from her religious beliefs. Two federal appeals court decisions show you don’t have to comply with that request.

As loyal readers of Legal Mailbag may recall reading (Legal Mailbag, February 18, 2021), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a father’s objection to his son’s admission to the health curriculum in high school i Leebaert v. Harrington, 332 F.3d 134 (2d. Cir. 2003). There, a parent objected to certain aspects of the health curriculum and claimed that, as the parent, he had the right to decide whether and how his son was able to participate in the health curriculum. However, both the district court and the appeals court rejected the father’s claim that his parental rights were violated when Fairfield Public Schools, over his objection, required his son to attend to health classes (other than those prescribed by law. permitted). The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision that school officials have the right to establish a curriculum and that curriculum reflects opinions that differ from belief or opinion of the parent, does not violate the rights of the parent or the child.

The decision of the Court of First Appeal is instructive on the issue this parent raises about gender and family. Inside Parker v. Hurley514 F.3d 87 (1St Cir. 2008), the court considered a claim that the Lexington (Massachusetts) Public Schools violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments by including in classroom instruction on student materials first featuring gay people and same-sex marriage:

Two groups of parents, whose beliefs are against same-sex marriage and homosexuality, sued the Lexington, Massachusetts school district where their young children were enrolled. They say they should be informed by the school and given the opportunity to rid their young children of books they find religiously offensive. The plaintiffs alleged violations of their and their children’s rights under the Free Exercise Clause and their fundamental rights and liberties under the US Constitution.

The First Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s decision and dismissed these claims:

Although we agree with the plaintiffs’ bona fide contention that their religious beliefs were seriously violated, we find that they have not demonstrated a legal burden on their rights or those of their children.

***

Public schools cannot protect individual students from religiously objectionable views, especially if the school does not require the student to accept those views or participate in discussions about them. .

***

We do not claim that the school’s choice of textbooks for young students did not seriously offend the defendants’ true religious beliefs. If the school system is too sensitive to these religious beliefs, the petitioners can look to political means for change in the city and state. . . . . They are not entitled to any federal remedy under the US Constitution.

Finally, Legal Mailbag notes that federal law provides protection against government pressures on religious practice. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-571b states that “the state or a political subdivision of the state may burden a person’s duty to worship if it shows that the burden is imposed on the person (1 ) is in furtherance of the government’s will, and (2). ) is the most restrictive means of furthering that government’s will.” That protection applies, for example, if a school district prohibits a student or teacher from performing a religious activity without being invited. the fact that the court was held Parker v. Hurleylistening to opinions that differ from his religion does not weigh on the right of that person to practice that religion.

Originally published by CAS Weekly Newsletter

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the topic. Seek expert advice for your specific circumstances.

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