Pennsylvania Parents Prevail

Jun 27, 2019

Parents of elementary school students in State College Area School District have finally received access to review sex-ed curriculum after efforts from Liberty Counsel and Pennsylvania Family Institute’s Independence Law Center on their behalf.

Liberty Counsel was contacted by concerned parents who had made multiple requests to school officials for review of the entire Human Growth and Development/sex education curriculum, including all slides, presentations, multimedia presentations, sources, textbooks, and any other supplemental materials (including planned weblinks or videos) intended for use in the educational program. The school district was violating parental rights by presenting only some of the materials.

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter and provided parents with a model “Parental Non-Consent Form” to specify in writing to administrators the sex-ed material and resources from which they desire their children exempted.

Pennsylvania law recognizes that parents have the “right to have their children excused from specific instruction that conflicts with their religious beliefs, upon receipt by the school entity of a written request from the parent or guardians.” Parents cannot meaningfully exercise this right without notice and opportunity to inspect all curriculum materials, not just summaries or censored slide presentations. This is particularly important where the material discusses matters of sexuality.

Parents had repeatedly sought to view the material, in the face of administrative stonewalling. One parent wrote: “We asked to see the curriculum and were denied. We went to the parent meeting and were denied, we received the email from [one administrator] which was a sham. We continued to ask for the curriculum and were ignored, we reached out to [Liberty Counsel] and you intervened.” On “June 10th (40 days after our initial request and long after the students in the district were exposed to the material), we saw what has been represented as the curriculum.”

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