Brian Heywood checks petitions
Brian Heywood is founder of Let’s Go Washington and chief funder of signature-gathering for the initiative filed Tuesday to create a parents’ bill of rights. Heywood is pictured above checking boxes of petitions filed last month for the group’s measure to repeal a state climate law. (Photo: Jerry Cornfield/Washington State Standard, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

The right wing group work­ing to qual­i­fy mul­ti­ple ini­tia­tives to the 2024 Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture turned in sig­na­tures for anoth­er one of their mea­sures today in Tumwa­ter at the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex.

Ini­tia­tive 2081 — which, like all of Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton’s mea­sures, is spon­sored by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Repub­li­can State Par­ty Chair Jim Walsh and fund­ed with mon­ey from right wing mil­lion­aire Bri­an Hey­wood — is an attempt to bring the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s nation­al cul­ture wars push to the Novem­ber 2024 Wash­ing­ton State bal­lot. Osten­si­bly, the ini­tia­tive is about ensur­ing par­ents have the right to know what’s hap­pen­ing to their kids in pub­lic schools.

But the Office of the Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion says much of the ini­tia­tive is try­ing to re-state what’s already in Wash­ing­ton law — mean­ing, it won’t give par­ents much in the way of rights that they don’t already have.

The offi­cial bal­lot title and sum­ma­ry for I‑2081 are as follows:

Bal­lot Title
Ini­tia­tive Mea­sure No. 2081 con­cerns parental rights relat­ing to their children’s pub­lic school education.

This mea­sure would pro­vide cer­tain rights to par­ents and guardians of pub­lic-school chil­dren, includ­ing rights to review instruc­tion­al mate­ri­als, inspect records, receive cer­tain noti­fi­ca­tions, and opt out of cer­tain activ­i­ties, like sex­u­al-health education.

Should this mea­sure be enact­ed into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Bal­lot Mea­sure Summary
This mea­sure would allow par­ents and guardians of pub­lic-school chil­dren to review instruc­tion­al mate­ri­als and inspect stu­dent records, includ­ing health and dis­ci­pli­nary records, upon request. It would require pub­lic schools to pro­vide par­ents and guardians with cer­tain noti­fi­ca­tions, includ­ing about med­ical ser­vices giv­en and when stu­dents are tak­en off cam­pus; access to cal­en­dars and cer­tain poli­cies; and writ­ten notice and oppor­tu­ni­ties to opt stu­dents out of com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al-health edu­ca­tion and answer­ing cer­tain sur­veys or assignments.

Some pro­vi­sions in the ini­tia­tive could have the poten­tial to nix Human Rights Com­mis­sion guide­lines about stu­dent pri­va­cy — par­tic­u­lar­ly in sen­si­tive sce­nar­ios, which is rea­son alone in our view to reject this ini­tia­tive. Sup­pose, for a exam­ple, that a stu­dent receives med­ical care that they do not want their par­ents to know about. Pub­lic schools should not be oblig­at­ed by law to be insert­ed into the mid­dle of dis­putes between young peo­ple and their par­ents about med­ical care.

The ini­tia­tive does at least rec­og­nize that when abuse is being inves­ti­gat­ed, par­ents should­n’t have unfet­tered access to their chil­dren’s records.

From sub­sec­tion 3:

Notwith­stand­ing any­thing to the con­trary, a pub­lic school shall not be required to release any records or infor­ma­tion regard­ing a stu­den­t’s med­ical or health records or men­tal health coun­sel­ing records to a par­ent dur­ing the pen­den­cy of an inves­ti­ga­tion of child abuse or neglect con­duct­ed by any law enforce­ment agency or the depart­ment of chil­dren, youth, and fam­i­lies where the par­ent is the tar­get of the inves­ti­ga­tion, unless the par­ent has obtained a court order.

This clause is too lim­it­ed, how­ev­er, to pro­vide suf­fi­cient pro­tec­tions for youth.

Giv­en that exist­ing state law strikes a bet­ter bal­ance than I‑2081, Wash­ing­ton would be bet­ter off with­out Ini­tia­tive 2081. This is an instance where the old adage if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it applies. Many of the pro­po­nents of I‑2081 are focus­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly on the sce­nario of par­ents being able to opt their chil­dren out of com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion — but they already have that right under exist­ing law, a law the right wing forced a statewide pub­lic vote on three years ago, which Wash­ing­to­ni­ans vot­ed hand­i­ly to uphold.

From the OSPI’s CSHE (com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion) page:

Parent/Guardian Noti­fi­ca­tion and Materials
Let­ters, Noti­fi­ca­tions, Waivers and FAQs
Par­ents and guardians must be noti­fied at least one month in advance of planned instruc­tion, must be able to review all CSHE instruc­tion­al mate­ri­als, and must be giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to opt their child out of CSHE instruction.

This infor­ma­tion is being omit­ted from mate­ri­als pro­mot­ing I‑2081.

The Wash­ing­ton State Catholic Con­fer­ence’s I‑2081 page, for exam­ple, which our team reviewed, neglects to explic­it­ly state that par­ents already have this right, imply­ing instead that I‑2081 would cre­ate it. The only lan­guage that nods to exist­ing law is the word “reit­er­ates” in this sen­tence: “It also reit­er­ates or estab­lish­es numer­ous par­ents’ rights with­in the pub­lic school system.”

NPI’s observers in Tumwa­ter saw a heavy “Moms for Lib­er­ty” pres­ence at the turn-in. “Moms for Lib­er­ty” is an extreme right wing group that cam­paigns for book bans and against efforts to make schools more inclu­sive and cur­ricu­lum more ben­e­fi­cial to stu­dents. The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter had this to say about the group in its Year in Hate and Extrem­ism report for 2022:

Schools, espe­cial­ly, have been on the receiv­ing end of ramped-up and coor­di­nat­ed hard-right attacks, fre­quent­ly through the guise of “par­ents’ rights” groups. These groups were, in part, spurred by the right-wing back­lash to COVID-19 pub­lic safe­ty mea­sures in schools. But they have grown into an anti-stu­dent inclu­sion move­ment that tar­gets any inclu­sive cur­ricu­lum that con­tains dis­cus­sions of race, dis­crim­i­na­tion and LGBTQ identities.

At the fore­front of this mobi­liza­tion is Moms for Lib­er­ty, a Flori­da-based group with vast con­nec­tions to the GOP that this year the SPLC des­ig­nat­ed as an extrem­ist group. They can be spot­ted at school board meet­ings across the coun­try wear­ing shirts and car­ry­ing signs that declare, “We do NOT CO-PARENT with the GOVERNMENT.” The group hijacks meet­ings, pre­vent­ing offi­cials and par­ents from con­duct­ing their nor­mal proceedings.

“I can be sit­ting in a meet­ing mind­ing my own busi­ness, and they turn around and scream at me that I am a com­mie and teach­ers want to see all kids fail,” a teacher’s union pres­i­dent in Bre­vard Coun­ty, Flori­da, explained to a Wash­ing­ton Post reporter.

The oth­er five mea­sures Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton is work­ing on for 2024 are:

  • Ini­tia­tive 2117 — repeals the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act, which is rais­ing funds to fight cli­mate damage
  • Ini­tia­tive 2109 — repeals bil­lions in edu­ca­tion fund­ing by elim­i­nat­ing the cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy
  • Ini­tia­tive 2113 — rolls back restric­tions on police pur­suits that are mak­ing our com­mu­ni­ties safer
  • Ini­tia­tive 2124 — sab­o­tages the WA Cares plan to help Wash­ing­to­ni­ans afford long-term care
  • Ini­tia­tive 2111 — bars the state and local gov­ern­ments from levy­ing tax­es based on abil­i­ty to pay

Sig­na­tures for Ini­tia­tive 2117 were sub­mit­ted on Tues­day, Novem­ber 21st; our recap of that turn-in can be read here. The next mea­sure Hey­wood and Walsh plan to sub­mit sig­na­tures for is report­ed­ly Ini­tia­tive 2113, which would roll back restric­tions on police pur­suits that are mak­ing our com­mu­ni­ties safer.

NPI’s Stop Greed web­site pro­vides infor­ma­tion about all six ini­tia­tives and the harm they would cre­ate and is a very use­ful resource to book­mark.

NPI urges a no vote on all of the afore­men­tioned ini­tia­tives, includ­ing I‑2081, and will be work­ing to ensure that they get the vig­or­ous oppo­si­tion they deserve.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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2 replies on “Let’s Go Washington submits signatures for I‑2081, a parental notification scheme”

  1. I think this mea­sure goes way beyond requir­ing schools to release med­ical, men­tal health, and entire school records in paper form for free; it will also require med­ical care facil­i­ties to release med­ical records cur­rent­ly pro­tect­ed by pri­va­cy laws for chil­dren 1314 and up such as test­ing for STDs, HIV, preg­nan­cy, and behav­ioral health ser­vices. Nei­ther Hey­wood or Walsh would respond to a ques­tion via FB about how about this would affect pri­va­cy pro­tec­tions for minors. Please cor­rect me if I am inter­pret­ing it incorrectly.

  2. I called my school dis­trict to view CSE and was told I just missed the date in Octo­ber and the next date was in March. I had to wait 5 months and they did not want me opt­ing my daugh­ter out until I viewed it. They only offered view­ing of the cur­ricu­lum two evenings a year. I will be vot­ing Yes on I‑2081.

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