***Update 2.13.24 – SB0620 has been placed on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar for 2/27/2024. To voice your support or opposition to SB0620, find the committee members contact info HERE and contact them prior to their meeting.***
The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –
A bill that was raised last session and pushed off until this year was again pushed to next month for its presentation to the Senate Judiciary Committee for its review and determination of fitness to move forward in the legislative process.
Senator Mark Pody (R-D17-Lebanon) and Representative Chris Todd (R-D73-Madison County) are sponsoring a bill whose main purpose is to define and establish parental rights within the context of government interference or usurpation of those rights.
Senate Bill 0620 (SB0620) by Pody and House Bill 1414 (HB1414) by Todd were both filed for introduction in January of 2023, but are just now getting the opportunity to see any action toward becoming law in the state of Tennessee.
In summary, the legislation reads, “As introduced, enacts the “Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act,” which declares that the ability of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of that parent’s child is a fundamental right. – Amends TCA Title 36 and Title 49.”
The bill page summary notes exclusive rights to specific areas of care that a parent or legal guardian of a child have, with exceptions only for prevention of severe bodily harm or death, or inability to make contact with the parent.
Areas of controversy in the bill are expected, especially relating to issues that are now very typically seen in the current news cycles with relative frequency.
Structured very similarly to The Bill of Rights in The Constitution, the language begins with its own sort of Preamble:
“This bill establishes that the liberty of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of that parent’s child is a fundamental right. This state, a political subdivision, or another governmental entity is prohibited from substantially burdening that right without demonstrating that the burden is required by a compelling governmental interest of the highest order as applied to the parent and the child and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. All parental rights are exclusively reserved to a parent of a child without obstruction by or interference from this state, a political subdivision, another governmental entity, or any other institution, including, without limitation, the following rights and responsibilities…”
What follows is a list of rights and responsibilities that can only be determined, decided or directed by the parent of a child.
Language in the bill that will draw ire from certain groups, will certainly be that which mentions a parent’s right to prohibit exposure to material, topics or ideologies pertaining to subjects that the child’s parents find objectionable.
For example, under Educational Involvement:
“Procedures to notify a parent in advance and obtain the parent’s written consent before the parent’s child attends any instruction or presentation containing sexual education or any instruction or presentation that has the goal or purpose of studying, exploring, or informing students about gender roles or stereotypes, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or romantic or sexual relationships”.
Also mentioned are the rights of parents to be informed before a new name or pronoun is attached to their child without their consent:
“Procedures by which a parent must provide written consent before their child uses a name or nickname other than their legal name, or before a child uses a pronoun that does not align with the child’s sex. However, even if a parent provides written consent, a person must not be compelled to use pronouns that do not align with the child’s sex;”.
Other notable areas of the bill relate to any sort of medical treatment, whether it be physical or mental, prohibiting any type of treatment allowed without express parental consent.
This would include treatment for mental health issues, any kind of counseling or sex education advice, or interference on the part of a government/school employee in the form of withholding information about the child from their parents, that pertains to their physical or mental wellbeing. Such actions would result in grounds for disciplinary action.
In a nutshell, the purpose of the bill is to state clearly, and unequivocally that parents in Tennessee do not co-parent with the government.
On Tuesday, January 9th, 2024, the Senate bill was rolled for review by the House Judiciary Committee to 2/6/2024, where it will either move through to the next step in the legislative process, or die a quick death, as so many bills wanted by the voters and parents of Tennessee have done.
The last action on the House bill was on February 7th, 2023 when it was assigned to the Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee. No scheduling information for the bill in that subcommittee has been published as of yet.
We will continue to follow this bill as it moves through the legislative process and report on all our findings.
About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member. Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at email@example.com.