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The Secret Life of Wisconsin Kids

Tony Perkins · Feb. 21, 2020

Imagine dropping your son off at school, never knowing that he lives a completely different existence as a girl for eight hours a day — and everyone knows it but you. And not only do teachers know it, but they go to great lengths to hide it. That’s the reality in Madison, Wisconsin, where moms and dads have been furious to find out that not only is the district keeping their children’s gender expression a secret, but there’s an elaborate scheme in place to keep parents from ever finding out!

Most kids can’t take an Advil at school without getting their parents’ permission — but they can create a whole new identity without anyone calling home? Thanks to a policy passed in April 2018, this is the new normal for anyone in Madison public schools. And unlike other areas of the country, who’ve had to deal with the rogue principal here or there, this is a systemic, district-wide campaign to lie to parents and exploit their children. Under the district’s official policy, a girl or boy — of any age — can “transition to a different gender identity at school” completely confidentially. They can go to their teacher and demand to be called a new name or pronoun, even use a different bathroom, without their parents’ okay.

Even more amazingly, the district is forcing teachers and staff to take the lead in deceiving these families. Madison’s policy orders them keep up appearances by using the kids’ given names and pronouns whenever their parents are around. If a school employee is concerned that this new identity is creating problems or hurting the child, too bad. They’re forbidden from bringing it up with parents. In fact, the only time a mom or dad would be brought into the loop is if their son or daughter wanted to change their official records. Otherwise, they’re completely in the dark — something 14 parents in the district are hoping to change.

Eight families are so outraged by Madison’s policy that they’ve turned to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to take the district to court. Luke Berg, deputy counsel for WILL, dropped by "Washington Watch" Wednesday to warn other parents and give his take on one of the worst attacks on parental rights any of us have ever seen “We sent a letter in the hopes that the district would just change the policy,” he explained. When that didn’t work, they filed a lawsuit. “They can either change the rules voluntarily,” Luke warned, “or they can wait for a court order.” Either way, he argues, “There’s a long line of cases that have said that parents have a right to direct the upbringing of their children.”

In this case, Luke points out, what’s so egregious is that “the policies actually prohibit staff from notifying parents about this unless the child consents — and in some cases, even require staff to actively deceive parents by using one name at school and then another when the parents show up… [W]e think this violates that constitutional right, but it also comes close to violating a whole lot of state and federal laws…” After all, he argues, “schools require parental permission for almost everything — athletics, taking medication at school, field trips, and the like. So this is completely anomalous that a school district would take [something as] significant and controversial of an issue as [gender] and say this is one issue that we’re going to allow students to [decide] totally on their own. And we’re actually going to help them hide this from their parents, if they want.”

This just goes to show how politicized the issue of gender identity is. A small fringe of LGBT activists are pushing this agenda on the local level, and it’s putting entire cities of children at risk. Just look at what’s happening in Madison’s elementary schools, where a male teacher is demanding access — not to the bathrooms of female staff, but to the bathrooms for girls‘. “I am an open and out transgender woman,” says the K-5 science teacher. Allis Elementary School parents were horrified enough that “Mx.” Vica Steele was showing five- and six-year-olds a video of him dressed as a woman – but fighting to use little girls’ restrooms is a bridge too far. “As a best practice,” a spokesperson has said, “the district does encourage adult staff to not use a children’s bathroom.” But Steele vows to keep fighting — and given Madison’s track record, he’ll probably win.

“I have been warning for years that one of the central efforts of the moral revolutionaries is to use the power and the structure of the public schools to separate children from their parents. In particular, to separate children from the moral authority and influence of their parents," Albert Mohler said. "That is also exactly what was undertaken in the former Soviet Union and throughout the communist bond. That is exactly what is championed in China and North Korea.” And now? It’s happening in Madison, Wisconsin.

The liberals who’ve infiltrated this district know that the only way to open up this pipeline of transition and acceptance is to keep parents on the sidelines. It’s time for moms and dads to remind them that God, as well as the Constitution makes parents the authority — not the schools — in their children’s decisions. Thanks to this lawsuit, Madison may finally get the message.

Do you know what’s happening at your son or daughter’s school? Learn what to look for in FRC’s “A Parent’s Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education.”

Originally published here.

Senate Dem Wants Religious Hostility to Wyden

Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) must really miss the days of Barack Obama, when faith-based groups were treated like second-class citizens when it came to government programs. Every time a member of the president’s team rolls back a rule and levels the playing field, the northwest Democrats kick and scream. For people who talk about equality so much, Senate liberals sure don’t understand it.

Nothing really sums up the Left better than the first line of their protest letter to Secretary Alex Azar. “We write to strongly oppose the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed rule, ‘Ensuring Equal Treatment of Faith-Based Organizations.” In other words, what they support is the unequal treatment of faith-based organizations — something the last administration had become quite good at. The pair of senators tries to argue that Trump’s policy reinstating religious freedom is actually a secret attack on it — a suggestion that would be funny if it weren’t so outrageous.

“The proposed rule — developed under the guise of religious liberty — is actually… yet another step taken by President Trump to greenlight federally-funded discrimination," their letter claims. No one is quite sure how, since the whole point of the regulation is to make sure every organization — religious or not — is treated the same. What Obama’s team liked to do was burden religious groups with special reporting or referral requirements, creating ridiculous hoops that no secular organization had to jump through. Of course, the idea was to persuade faith-based groups it was too much trouble — or worse, too steep a compromise, to comply.

The new rule, just posted last month, guarantees that every qualified government organization has a seat at the table — no matter what they believe. It appears by the words of Murray and Wyden not everyone believes in that kind of neutrality. They want religious groups to be disqualified from any government interaction before it starts! "We demand the Department put the American people first and withdraw the proposed rule,” they write. But putting the American people first means engaging all of the diverse options for health care, education, adoption, and disaster relief. If the Trump administration listened to those on the Left, it would be jeopardizing billions of dollars in social services.

The Catholic Church spent roughly $97 billion in 2010 alone on health care networks, about $47 billion on colleges, and $4.6 billion on “national charitable activities. Does the government really want to pick up that slack? And, more importantly, where would they find the resources to try? Faith-based groups carry the load in this country for humanitarian work — feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, housing the poor. Do Democrats really want to be responsible for elbowing out a sizeable chunk of our drug rehabilitation programs, prison work, adoption placements, and foster care?

On top of that, HHS is actually bringing its department in line with the Supreme Court’s insistence that "The Free Exercise Clause 'protect[s] religious observers against unequal treatment’ and subjects to the strictest scrutiny laws that target the religious for ‘special disabilities’ based on their ‘religious status.’”

Just because a group is operating in the government’s domain doesn’t mean it has to give up its convictions. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those on the Left — including three presidential candidates — don’t agree.

Originally published here.

Nigeria’s Lost Daughter

She would be 16 now. That’s how long it’s been since 14-year-old Leah Sharibu was last seen, being loaded into a truck while classmates screamed her name. The terrorists took dozens of other girls on that horrible day in 2018 and killed five others. But Leah is the only one who hasn’t come home.

“We were sitting down, about ready to eat [when we] heard gunshots.” For the students at Nigeria’s Dapchi school, there wasn’t a lot of time. Bullets started falling in front of the hostel where the girls were. For the Christian students, the threat was very real. “We knew we would be the target,” Affodia Andrawus said soberly.

Leah’s dorm was in front of the gate, so the girls ran that way, calling for her. “But she was caring for a sick roommate,” Affodia explained, “and refused to leave her.” Leah tried to carry her while they ran, but she kept falling. When her friend finally got to safety, Leah ran for the gates — not knowing that’s where the Boko Haram truck was parked. “We kept shouting her name,” Affodia remembers. But there was no escaping.

Wednesday, the anniversary of Leah’s capture, was a difficult one for her parents. Over the last several months, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions for the Sharibu family. First, it was reported that Leah was alive, then killed in captivity, and now, more recently, that she is the mother of a little boy — the product, almost certainly, of a forced Islamic marriage. And while Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari continues to say the right things, plenty of people wonder if he’s doing enough to act on them. “We say, as the government for and of all Nigerians, that no person has the right to force another to change their faith against their will and that all life is sacred,” Buhari insisted on the anniversary.

Nathan Sharibu, Leah’s dad, gave another emotional appeal on Tuesday. “I’m pleading with [the U.K.] government and with our Nigerian government, with President Buhari … to fulfill his promises that he has made to me personally, that he is going to rescue Leah and ensure that she is released, and not just Leah, all the others in captivity.” As her mother said, “We don’t know where Leah is. We don’t know the condition or the situation that [she’s in].”

What they do know, almost certainly, is that Leah refuses to renounce her faith — one of the reasons many of us believe she’s still missing. Unfortunately, Boko Haram takes great pleasure in torturing, kidnapping, beating, and oppressing Christians for their faith. The Trump administration takes that threat seriously — and so should all of we.

Nigeria ranks the 12th worst in the world for Christian persecution. The situation is so bad that several religious liberty advocates — including FRC — have asked the president to appoint a special envoy to the region to stop the abduction of so many innocents and the bloodbath that continues to affect so many people of faith.

For now, there’s a lot we can learn from Leah, a young girl who has the courage to stand for her faith — even in the face of death. Miles away in America, where we spend every day in relative ease, may we never forget the blessing of freedom — and resolve to fight even harder for that freedom so that captives like Leah might also enjoy it.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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