TURTLE BAY, NEW YORK, May 1, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a significant victory for parental rights worldwide, a Vatican representative said all parents have the right to homeschool their children.
“The State should respect the choices that parents make for their children and avoid attempts at ideological indoctrination,” the permanent observer mission of the Holy See to the United Nations wrote in a statement released last Tuesday.
Parents “have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the State.”
“That’s huge,” said Jeremiah Lorrig, director of media relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), told LifeSiteNews.com. “Having the support of the Vatican ambassador would invaluable to the homeschool movement.”
A growing number of parents opt to educate their children at home because of the poor quality of schools available, or because schools increasingly promote values that conflict with traditional Christian morality.
Last July, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring California public schools to teach “the role and contributions of” homosexuals in American history.
“The purpose of this program is very obvious and that is to promote social acceptance of homosexuality, transsexuality to all children, and at the same time to silence those who have religious or moral beliefs against such lifestyles,” Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, told LifeSiteNews.com.
The problem did not begin with any one bill, he said. “California school districts already were implementing pro-homosexual orientation programs, also cross-dresser/transvestite sensitivity programs, before S.B. 48 was even drafted as legislation, much less become law,” Dacus said. For example, Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland implemented a “gender identity” curriculum. “These programs were already being implemented from high school all the way down to kindergarten or preschoolers,” he said.
“This kind of material only makes it more confusing and more to make decisions as well as solidifying a sexual orientation different than what is mentally and physically healthy for a child,” Dacus told LifeSiteNews.
In many nations, parents are denied the basic right to choose their children’s education. Last October, a committee of the Brailian Congress decreed that homeschooling “disrespects the Constitution, the Penal Code, the National Education Guidelines and Basic Law and the Child and Adolescent Statute.” The state of homeschooling in Germany is so bad a family fled to Iran for the right to homeschool their children.
“Raising awareness is key,” Lorrig told LifeSiteNews. “In a lot of these countries that have very restrictive laws against homeschooling, people are losing their children.”
The problem exists in the United States, as well, he said. Pacific Justice Institute and HSLDA defended California homeschoolers from a California Supreme Court ruling that sought to restrict their rights.
Lorrig told LifeSiteNews the greatest problem is uncertainty. “You never know where the brushfires are going to break out,” he said. For instance, HSLDA had to battle a Mississippi judge, who tried to impose greater restrictions on homeschooling parents. “There’s never homeschool problems in Mississippi,” Lorrig said.
HSLDA won those cases. “But it’s a constant tug-of-war between homeschool liberty and the desire to control parents,” Lorrig said.
The support of the Vatican will make a welcome change to HSLDA’s international outreach. “We actually find ourselves battling the UN, especially with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Lorrig.
Ratifying the treaty, he warned, could erode parental rights over education and many other aspects of their minors’ lives. “Constitutionally speaking, it would completely change the structure of family policy in the United States, undermine sovereignty, and put that authority in the hands of remote, self-described experts,” Lorrig said.
HSLDA facilitates or advises legal work on behalf of homeschoolers in about 25 nations around the world.