In between throwing elbows at Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis on Monday, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threw shade on the current Garden State governor over the issue of parents’ rights. It is a hot topic in New Hampshire politics, too.

Asked about education policy during a forum in Manchester, Christie reiterated his support for school choice. He also called out Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.)  for suing local schools over policies empowering parents.

“My successor is actually suing school boards in New Jersey who say that when a child comes to a teacher or counselor or a principal and says that they’re having confusion about their gender — he’s suing to prevent them [school officials] from telling the parents,” Christie said. “If you don’t tell the parents, who’s going to be counseling that child? Either no one or someone in the school who… quite frankly, may not be trained to do that.

“We need to get smart about the way we have government interact with this,” Christie said.

Christie was referencing lawsuits filed by the Murphy administration against three school districts refusing to comply with his education policy, which says parents should not be informed about what their child does in school related to sex and gender. For example, if an elementary school child identifies as a different sex and asks to be called by a different name while on school grounds, New Jersey parents are not to be told.

“Listen, we took these actions because it’s the right thing to do,” Murphy said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “Let’s protect the rights of these precious kids. Let’s do things the right way, the American way.”

But is lying to parents about their children’s behavior or keeping that behavior secret from them — behavior that other adults like teachers, coaches, and school custodians already know about — the “American way?” Most Americans don’t agree, polls show.

It is an issue in New Hampshire, where a mom is suing the Manchester School District over a similar policy. According to legal filings, the mother inadvertently learned during a remote school session that her child was engaging in transgender activity with the school’s knowledge. She asked her child’s teacher to use the child’s legal name and the pronouns corresponding to the child’s birth sex. The teacher initially agreed to do as the parent asked. But the principal sent a follow-up email telling the mother her instructions were going to be ignored and the school would decide what the mother was and was not allowed to know.

Parents who want to decide how their children are going to be treated and who want to be informed about their conduct should consider leaving public school, the district’s attorney said during a court hearing.

As in New Jersey, New Hampshire defenders of the “keep secrets” policy say parents are simply too dangerous to be allowed to know about their children’s behavior. It is a view summed up by New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley who said if parents are allowed to know what schools know about their children, “some kids will be kicked out or beaten (to death).”

Republicans like Christie and other 2024 presidential candidates are siding with parents in this debate. At a New Hampshire Institute of Politics town hall last week, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy listed a series of “truths” he would pledge to speak as the party’s nominee. Among them: “There are two genders. Parents determine the education of their children.”

And when the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives was considering a parents’ bill of rights earlier in March, Ramaswamy supported the effort. “If a kid, especially at the behest of teachers in their schools, is changing their gender identity or identifying differently, you as a parent at least have the right to know that,” Ramaswamy said. “That’s not objectionable to me.”

Ramaswamy spoke at the Moms For Liberty national gathering in Philadelphia earlier this month, as did former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Granite State Democrats have attacked the pro-parent organization as a “hate group,” with one Democratic state representative referring to the women as “a**holes with casseroles” and the “Taliban.”

DeSantis signed a parents-rights bill into law earlier this year designed to empower mothers and fathers.

“There are some who say parents don’t even have a right to know what is being taught,” DeSantis said at the time. “There’s actually some places where you can make serious decisions for these kids and not inform the parents about it. That is not going to fly in the state of Florida.”

And during a speech to the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women last month, Trump pledged that one of his first acts as president would be to end federal funding to public schools that teach far-left ideologies on race and sex.

Political observers say the parents’ rights movement, particularly its ability to bring young, suburban women to the Republican side of the debate, is one of the most powerful forces in contemporary American politics. Meanwhile, the influence of teachers unions continues to wane, particularly in the wake of their mishandling of the COVID pandemic and the learning loss that resulted.

Last year, trust in the honesty and ethics of school teachers fell to an all-time low in the Gallup poll, and just 28 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in public schools. It was the second-lowest level of trust in the poll’s history.

Meanwhile, polls at both the national and state level show widespread support for parental rights. “Seventy-four percent of registered voters believe that schools should not be able to help students “change their gender identity” without parental consent. Nearly the same number feel those sentiments should be explicitly enforced, as legislation requiring schools to obtain that consent is supported by 75 percent of registered voters,” according to a national poll taken in March.

And a New Hampshire Journal/co/efficient poll in February found 78 percent of parents opposed schools having the right to keep children’s behaviors secret from their parents.

Christie told New Hampshire voters Monday he disagrees with the DeSantis approach to regulating public schools, which he described as “big government.” Instead, Christie said, “I believe in leaving everything as much as possible to the parents.”