Cynthia M. Allen

The progressive left is wholly inconsistent on the role of parents

The signs of pro-abortion rights demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
The signs of pro-abortion rights demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court. NYT

There are times when the intellectual inconsistency so commonly found on the progressive left is utterly confounding.

This week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal opinion on the transgender guidelines recently announced by the Fort Worth school district administration.

Like many conservatives, I possess a healthy skepticism of interference by state officials in matters like public education that should be managed through local control.

But in this case, the involvement was not only appropriate, it was necessary.

That’s because, as Paxton explains, policy decisions should be addressed by the school board — a locally elected body — prior to the district’s development of any related regulations. That didn’t happen here.

Paxton’s opinion gets at the heart of the ill-conceived district policy — its attempt to limit parental rights.

Under the guidelines, school personnel are instructed to “work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any,” the student’s parents should be involved in the gender-transitioning process.

The district and policy advocates have argued that this provision is necessary because some parents may not be accepting of a child undergoing a gender transition.

It’s conceivable that such circumstances exist.

Indeed, parents may struggle to accept or even abuse their children for any number of reasons not addressed by the Fort Worth district’s policy.

Unfortunately, that’s why agencies like Child Protective Services exist.

But operating under the assumption that school personnel — whose interactions with students are limited and often superficial — are more sympathetic and better equipped than a parent to manage a student’s gender dysphoria is absurd.

In short, the guidelines seem to imply that school district personnel should enjoy more authority over the lives and decisions of students than parents should exercise over their own children.

That, according to Paxton, violates not only a parent’s “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their child,” affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, but defies the Texas Education Code, which ensures that no school administrator or educator may limit parental rights or deny a parent access to a child’s records except in situations specifically carved out by state law.

As Paxton’s opinion explains, the guidelines “relegate parents to a subordinate status,” thus “impairing their ability to ‘actively participate’ ” in the educational lives, activities and choices of their child.

The irony in this progressive perspective of parenting — namely, that parents’ dominion over their children should be limited by wise and benevolent officials — becomes apparent when considering this week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule some of Texas’ abortion regulations.

The court’s majority found that the state’s 2013 requirement that physicians performing abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby (30 miles or less) hospitals and that clinics must meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery were struck down by a court all too eager to uphold the imagined right of a mother to terminate the life of her unborn child.

Not surprisingly, the decision was celebrated by progressives who seem to believe that a parent’s — more specifically, a mother’s — authority over her child is so absolute that it includes the ultimate decision as to whether that child should ever take a breath.

But once a child is born and has entered the public school system, the parent no longer possesses such control — apparently not even the right to know, with or without the child’s consent, if he or she is in the midst of a gender transition.

Indeed, the only constancy in the progressive left’s tortured justification for such cognitive dissonance is the desire to wholly avoid the democratic process in a place like Texas, where such policies could never be implemented by the will of the people.

Whether that be an attempt to circumvent the local school board and the voters who elected them or to instill in a group of judges in Washington, D.C., with the authority to regulate the state’s medical procedures in defiance of its own legislature, at least they are consistent.

Cynthia M. Allen: 817-390-7166, cmallen-, @cjmallen12