Dismissed lawsuit increases attention on parental rights

David Parker of Lexington, Mass., second from left, speaks during a news conference in Boston, April 27, 2006 following filing a federal lawsuit claiming school administrators violated their civil rights and broke state law when they distributed and read two storybooks that depict gay relationships to their children without prior notification. His wife Tonia, right, Joseph Wirthlin, second from left, and his wife Robin, left, look on. AP File Photo/Chitose Suzuki

LEXINGTON -- National attention has increased on a case involving parental rights being trumped by public school policies since a federal judge Feb. 23 dismissed a lawsuit brought by two Lexington couples.

The case highlights how gay activists have made inroads within some Massachusetts public schools, even before the state Supreme Judicial Court paved the way in 2004 for “same-sex marriage” licenses.

David and Tonia Parker and Joseph and Robin Worthlin filed a constitutional lawsuit in 2006 against Lexington Public School officials. The Christian parents objected that their kindergarten and second-grade children were exposed without the parents’ prior knowledge to books designed to mainstream same-sex unions.

They argued that because the children were so young, this amounted to indoctrination; it deprived the parents of their right to present this sensitive issue within the framework of their moral beliefs at an age-appropriate time.

Their request for prior notice to opt their children out of future discussions was denied by school officials, who later garnered support in their defense from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), national gay advocacy groups, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

First District Court Judge Mark Wolf dismissed the parents’ suit, which has already cost them $250,000 in legal fees. Wolf ruled the school was promoting “diversity” and not teaching sex education. He further said that if parents disagreed with the curriculum, they could remove their children from public school or elect a different school board.

Public reaction was swift.

A Boston Globe editorial applauded the ruling: “The decision Wolf issued yesterday is based on earlier court findings that parents do not have a constitutional right to dictate what their children are taught in the public schools.”

Brian Camenker of the Waltham-based parents’ rights group Mass Resistance called Wolf’s ruling “every parent’s nightmare.”

“We’ve received a lot of support from many people of different faiths,” Tonia Parker said in a phone interview. A Baptist church in Texas adopted both the Parkers and Worthlins and the schoolchildren of Massachusetts in prayer.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, in his online blog March 2, encouraged the couples to pursue their appeal, which was filed Feb. 28. He wrote: “The disturbing part of this affair is that it underscores how, by redefining marriage in Massachusetts, people’s religious rights are going to be challenged by the state. I think that people were very naïve saying that we can change the definition of marriage and it will not have any repercussions and will not affect anyone else’s marriage or society as a whole.”

Asked to comment, Lexington Town Counsel Kevin Batt said, “The school system has never meant any disrespect for religious views of parents, but does need to create an atmosphere of tolerance of diversity for children from all kinds of families.”

David Parker said he has “never been motivated to bring down anyone’s dignity.” However, he said, “It’s a fundamental and sacred right of parents to be the primary directors of their children’s moral education.” He thinks that point has been eroded incrementally. “It’s been a slow process where the boundary has crept over the years.”

Seven years ago Lexington brought in LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) “diversity trainers” to show teachers how to integrate gay-friendly topics, according to a June 2006 article, “Show and Tell,” in Bay Windows, a Boston gay advocacy newspaper.

Some Massachusetts communities have similar practices. In one controversy publicized last fall, Emer O’Shea of Newton did finally remove her daughter from public school. The child’s third-grade class learned about transvestites and transsexuals from a former board member of GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a group “committed to raising awareness of and combating homophobia in the schools.”

“These kinds of problems are somewhat inevitable, given what the court in Massachusetts has done on ‘gay marriage,’” said Professor Dwight Duncan of Southern New England School of Law in North Dartmouth. Parents should work to defend marriage and push for a stronger parental notification law, he said.

State-funded school advocacy programs got a boost from the Massachusetts Legislature when it quadrupled the 2007 budget to nearly $2 million for “outreach to” and “support and safety of gay and lesbian students.” Lawmakers also created a permanent Commission for Gay and Lesbian Youth, which has since independently added “Bisexual” and “Transgender” to its title, according to Mass Resistance.

Introducing transgenderism and homosexuality in the classroom is the goal of a newly formed educators’ coalition called the Massachusetts LGBT Early Childhood Education Initiative, Bay Windows reported.

The coalition formed in Cambridge last June after Wheelock College first offered “Making Room in the Circle: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families in Early Childhood Settings” (ages 3 to 5). The course “challenges institutionalized oppression and heterosexual privilege.”

Another “tool kit for gender identity activism in schools” available is “Beyond the Binary,” a publication of the Gay Straight Alliance Network aimed at “transgender youth.”

“Some parents are afraid to speak up,” concluded Jed Snyder, pastor of Countryside Bible Chapel in Lexington and a supporter of the Parkers and Worthlins. “They hope to debrief their children at home.”

A warning note was sounded March 2 in The Pilot. It editorialized on the lawsuit’s dismissal: “If this disgraceful ruling prevails, the rights of parents to oversee their children’s education in public schools on issues related with sexuality will be severely diminished.”

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...