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February 19, 2013

Parental ‘bill of rights’ advances

OKLAHOMA CITY — A parental “bill of rights” was approved in a House committee Monday, pushing to the floor a proposal designed to prevent the government from interfering with how parents raise their children.

The House Human Services Committee approved the bill from Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, by a 6-3 vote.

Kern told The Associated Press that this “bill of rights” gives nothing new to Oklahoma parents except to state explicitly that parents have fundamental rights and to lay out those rights with the force of one, unambiguous law. She added the bill would not allow parents to neglect their kids or do anything illegal.

“There’s nothing that has been done that has definitely drawn the line,” she said. “What we’ve been having over the years, and it seems to be getting worse, is what we call a ‘creep,’ where the government continues to creep into the responsibilities of parents.”

Examples of this intrusion, Kern said, include programs in New York public high schools to dispense so-called “morning-after pills” to students and a 2005 ruling the by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that many have interpreted as limiting parental rights in schools.

“Being the conservative state that we are, if we’ve had anything happen it’s been few and far between,” Kern added. “A lot of what we do is to prevent something from happening.”

Still, several committee members questioned whether the bill was necessary.

“Everything that seems to be set forth in here has already been protected or affirmed numerous times by the United States Supreme Court, wouldn’t you agree?” said Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Chouteau.

Other members voiced concerns that the bill would burden public schools or that parents who home-school were dictating policy for public schools, as Kern had said the bill was a request from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

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