Focus on the Family

Religious Liberties

by Focus on the Family Issue Analysts

What do I do when my religious liberties and parental rights are threatened by my child's public school?

Have you ever wondered how same-sex marriage will impact our culture?  Or even you and your family personally?  Your child's school could become the first place you experience some of the effects of the legalization of same-sex marriage – and it could impact your religious liberties and parental rights.

How is that possible?  When marriage is redefined (whether by a vote of the legislature or by a court mandating the change), same-sex marriage becomes the law of state and something all in-state levels of government must accommodate and promote as equal to marriage between a man and a woman.  While that might not sound so bad on the surface, that means your child's public school could become a place where same-sex marriage is taught – regardless of your values or beliefs, or whether you want your child to be learning about the topic at all.

If you wonder if this could ever happen in the real world, read Same-sex Fairy Tales: Coming to a School Near You about what a family in Massachusetts – the first state to legalize same-sex marriage – experienced in 2006. 

What you need to know

Redefining marriage will impact many rights and aspects of our lives that we might take for granted:

What You Can Do

Be aware of school policies before inappropriate material gets into classrooms, or your child’s hands. Once bad policies and curricula get in, it's often difficult to get them out.

by Focus on the Family Issue Analysts

Be aware of school policies before inappropriate material gets into classrooms, or your child's hands. Once bad policies and curricula get in, it's often difficult to get them out.  Educate school personnel and elected officials on the law and your parental rights.

How to talk to your child about sex and marriage

Ultimately, you will probably not be able to shield your child completely from the topic of same-sex marriage.  Even if your child's school does not implement materials on this topic, homosexuality and other controversial sexual themes are frequently featured on TV and in other facets of popular culture. 

However, you can prepare your child through intentional interaction with him or her about these topics.  It will be especially important to lay a biblical foundation for their understanding of sexuality - that God's design for human sexuality is for it to be expressed within marriage between a man and a woman. By clearly sharing your family's beliefs ahead of time, your child may be better equipped to process material promoting same-sex marriage (or other sexual messages) – as well as discuss those controversial themes with you when they encounter them.

Coming to a School Near You

The Wirthlins never dreamed the issue would affect them so quickly.

by Focus on the Family Issue Analysts

Robb and Robin Wirthlin were aware that the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in November 2003 - but they never dreamed the issue would affect them so quickly and in such a personal way.

In March of 2006, their son came home and told them about a book his teacher had read to his 2nd grade class.  In the book, a prince went in search of a princess to marry, but chose instead to marry another prince. After emailing the teacher with their questions, however, they learned that she had read the book, King and King, to the entire class – a book promoting same-sex marriage. 

The Wirthlins requested that the school inform them of future class discussions on this topic.  School officials refused.  The Wirthlins went to court to secure their right to be informed of and direct their child's education.  The judge ruled against them, deciding that the state must teach same-sex marriage in public school--even when parents disagree, and regardless of a family's beliefs.

Additional Resources

Ways to dig deeper.

by Focus on the Family Issue Analysts

True Tolerance — Focus on the Family’s online initiative to equip parents to respond in a winsome, factual way when issues like homosexuality and same-sex marriage are addressed in a one-sided manner in public schools. Filled with information from legal experts, examples of lesson plans that cross the line and fact-based counterpoints to the one-sided messages homosexual-advocacy groups frequently promote, TrueTolerance makes it easier for parents to make their voices heard and balance out the biased information school officials are often receiving on these topics. Visit the True Tolerance website for more information.

Day of Dialogue — Focus on the Family’s nationwide, annual event that provides students a chance to respond to the controversial and confusing sexual messages that are often being promoted in their public.  For more information, visit the Day of Dialogue website.

Article — Capturing Children’s Minds

Article — Schools Should Not Mandate Pro-Gay Teaching

Article — Parents Beware

At the national level, there’s a growing movement to a Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  It states that "The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right." To learn more about that, visit