As a physician, I cannot imagine treating pediatric patients by secretly withholding significant medical or mental health findings from competent and well-intentioned parents. And as a mother, I cannot imagine school officials withholding significant information related to my children’s school experience. But currently, there is no state law requiring schools to divulge information to parents who request it, and those opposing a New Hampshire Parents’ Bill of Rights want to keep it that way.
It’s a no-brainer that keeping parents informed helps rather than harms kids. Research clearly shows that involved parents are actually protective against suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, improving mental health overall.
All children benefit from the love, guidance, and support of their parents – including LGBTQ+ youth. Therefore, transparency between parents and schools is advantageous and healthy. In circumstances of suspected abuse or neglect, mandated reporters are required to act in the best interests of a child, and this may involve secrecy. But laws supporting these situations already exist and dictate a report to the Division for Children, Youth and Families. Beyond these circumstances, no additional secrecy is warranted. These protections would remain in place if the current Parents’ Bill of Rights legislation were to become law.
Hiding a student’s school struggles can have significant negative consequences. For example, children expressing signs of gender dysphoria can have co-existing neuropsychological issues such as anxiety, ADHD, and autism. School personnel are not trained to diagnose such conditions, and without parental involvement and professional assistance, those children may not get the help they need.
At least one New Hampshire mother would have appreciated honest communication from school staff when she discovered that her child had transitioned to a different gender identity at school without her knowledge. Some New Hampshire schools continue to practice secret social gender transitions on the recommendation of a since rescinded New Hampshire School Board Association policy.
Hidden social gender transitions fail to diagnose and address any concurrent conditions children may be experiencing and can have long-term consequences. This approach puts children on the path of risky puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender transition surgeries. Parents need to know and give consent in such situations.
Whatever the issue, parents want to trust school officials to answer honestly when they ask about their children’s school experience, whether it’s about academic achievement, extracurricular activities, participation in sports, disciplinary actions, or changes in mood or behavior.
Parents nurture their children through thick and thin, sickness and health, and are invested in their children’s well-being. Rather than secrets, parents, teachers, and students benefit from a celebrated partnership that supports children’s individual needs in a shared vision of success. A Parents’ Bill of Rights would promote this effort and deserves the support of Granite Staters.