Current Legislative session in Washington turning into a battle over parent’s rights
Vancouver resident Oleg Kolychev moved to Clark County from the Republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia in 1990. I was born in the state of Washington and have lived in this area virtually my entire life. I’m sure that Kolychev and I are different in many ways, but this week I feel similar to him in more ways than not.
Kolychev was one of many Clark County residents who traveled to Olympia on Monday for a rally on the steps of the Washington State Capitol Building. Estimates are that as many as 2,000 residents from all around the state attended the Prevailing Through Prayer rally before spreading out around the Capitol to speak to as many lawmakers as they could get an audience with.
Video courtesy of Family Policy Institute of Washington
The residents were there to have their voices heard in opposition to seven current bills (and their companion bills) currently before lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives that in the minds of many would establish new government standards for values previously set by individual families.
“This is completely against our family issues,’’ Kolychev said. “We came to America for freedom of religion and freedom to raise our family how we know. Now, it seems like times are changing and everything is opposed to the family.’’
Kolychev is the parent of three children and grandfather to six.
“We tried to raise our voices for values of family,’’ he said. “We want to raise our kids to what we think is right. Parents are supposed to guide kids, not the government. It looks like that is changing.’’
Specifically, the seven bills and two companion bills Kolychev and others are opposing are as follows (you can find more information on them go to http://leg.wa.gov/):
- Senate Bill 5395 — Concerning comprehensive sexual health education.
- Senate Bill 5602 & House Bill 1612 — Eliminating barriers to reproductive healthcare for all, co-sponsored by Reps. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) and Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver).
- Senate Bill 5082 — Creating a committee to promote and expand social emotional learning.
- House Bill 1638 — Promoting immunity against vaccine preventable diseases, co-sponsored by Reps. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) and Stonier.
- Senate Bill 5689 — Concerning harassment, intimidation, bullying, and discriminating in public schools.
- House Bill 1407 — Concerning comprehensive sexual health education, co-sponsored by Stonier, Wylie.
- House Bill 2065 & Senate Bill 5356 — Establishing the Washington state LGBTQ commission, co-sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver).
I’m not going to get buried in the weeds and minutia of each bill with you. But, like Kolychev and the others who gathered in Olympia on Monday, I do believe there is a common thread between the different bills.
“We don’t want government to tell us everything we are supposed to do or not,’’ Kolychev said.
Those of you who have read what I’ve had to say in this space and other spaces I’ve filled throughout my career might have read these words from me before. I believe that I was blessed to grow up in a household where my father taught me the values I still hold dearly today. One of those values is that “whatever goes on in our neighbor’s yard is none of our business and what goes on in our yard is none of theirs.’’ I believe it’s a simplified way of saying what Kolychev and others were saying on Monday.
“We have the right under this God-given land of ours, under our Constitution that protects our rights, not the government’s rights, they are our rights and we need to fight for them,’’ Rep. Chris Corry (R-Yakima) told the crowd that gathered for Monday’s rally.
And, the specific individual rights being fought for were being able to parent without the government’s interference.
“It’s interesting that I believe that you and your ancestors came to this country, my ancestors came to this country, so that as parents we get to decide what’s best for our children and not the government and that is really what we’re talking about today,’’ said Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane), “whether we’re talking about vaccines, or education, or we’re talking about any of the other issues here in Olympia.’’
“What we’re doing is right,’’ said Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen). The activism you’re engaging in is right. Continue your work and don’t be discouraged.’’
Rep. Vicki Kraft
Last month, Rep. Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver) warned Clark County parents of three of the bills that were protested on Monday.
Rep. Vicki Kraft alerts parents to education bills that would impose new government standards, values
“Legislation just moved into the House from the Senate that is very concerning to parents. It’s the classic case of government telling parents it knows what’s best for their children,” said Kraft, who serves on the House Education Committee.
Specifically, Kraft attempted to alert Clark County parents to Senate Bill 5395, Senate Bill 5082 and Senate Bill 5689.
Kraft pointed out that many Clark County residents attended public hearings held in March on the three bills.
“Many of those who came to these public hearings are from Clark County. A lot of them are parents courageous enough to speak out. However, we need to hear from even more people to stop these bills,” said Kraft.
“If you are a parent who wants to preserve the right to teach your child your own morals and family values, and not allow government to step in between you and your child, it is time to speak up now! I ask you to call your legislators in Olympia — and especially those who serve on the House Education Committee,” added Kraft. “Tell them it’s you, the parents, who have the right to raise your children the way you see fit — with your own morals, values and social training — not the government’s values.”
When reached by phone Thursday, Kraft offered some good news to the protesters and their cause. She said that Senate Bill 5395 (concerning comprehensive sexual health education) would not be advanced out of committee and that “for all practical purposes it is dead.” Kraft said the governor could still advance the bill out of committee but she was hopeful that would not happen.
Legislators may be reached through the toll-free legislative hotline: 1-800-562-6000. For more information, call Kraft at (360) 786-7994 or go to the legislative website: www.leg.wa.gov.