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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 1999
CONTACT: Heather Farish, (202) 393-2100
CALIFORNIA USURPS PARENTAL RIGHTS BY ORDERING CHILDREN TO REMAIN IN OPENLY
HOMOSEXUAL TEACHER'S CLASS, FRC SAYS

"If a teacher's behavior violates parents' beliefs, the parents should have the right to remove their children," Knight says.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - "When did exercising your right as a parent to decide what's best for your child become a form of discrimination?" Family Research Council's Cultural Studies Director Bob Knight said Monday. "Most parents don't want the village to raise their child. Yet, by usurping parental authority to appease a small but vocal minority, the 'village' of California sends the message it knows better than parents what is in the best interests of their children."

Last week, the California State Labor Board ruled that the Rio Bravo-Greeley School District in Bakersfield illegally acceded to parents' requests to remove 15 pupils from the classroom of an openly homosexual science teacher, James D. Merrick. Even though Merrick was not fired from his teaching position and the school has a record of honoring parents' requests, Chief Deputy Labor Commissioner Jose Millan wrote that the district wrongfully discriminated against Merrick based "upon (his) perceived sexual orientation."

The Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the parents of the removed children, reports that a number of students withdrawn from Merrick's class stated that they had difficulty concentrating because Merrick would rub their backs and put his arm around them.

"What's most disturbing about this incident is that the Labor Commission never conferred with the parents who removed their children from Merrick's classroom," Knight said. "Agency staff reviewed correspondence between Merrick and the district, read articles about the controversy and interviewed school administrators, but they never talked directly with the parents. How audacious for the state to presume the motives of these parents who deserve a right to present their case."

 FOR MORE INFORMATION OR INTERVIEWS, CONTACT THE FRC MEDIA OFFICE AT (202) 393-2100.

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