Sometimes I wonder whether right wing legislators like Rod Montoya are parents, or what their own relationships with their children are like. Representative Montoya writes in his recent op-ed column: “You need to know the Public Education Department and Department of Health are taking the position that you don’t have the right to know what your children are learning or what health care choices they may be making, specifically in regard to abortion, mental health and gender-altering care.” No, Rod. The PED is taking the position that if a student has an awful, abusive relationship with parent(s), they will not rat out the kid who may find herself pregnant, is having mental issues (likely from a parent or parents), or may be working their way through their gender identity. That type of situation is actually a rare thing, but when it happens, to allow those parents to learn of the situation can be dangerous or even fatal to the student. We know this from so many sociological studies over decades, something I don’t think Rod Montoya seems to have read or considered.

No teacher or principal, nor the PED, want to hide anything from parents. I know that as a parent of two children who went through public school and higher education, as an educator (now retired from that position), and having family members who have been educators or assistants to administrators in public education. I have seen or heard teachers and principals really push students who have issues to bring in their parents or speak with their parents. Most students do bring in their parent or parents. Why? Because they have sufficiently healthy relationships with parents to tell them what is happening to them.

The legislation Rod Montoya finds so objectionable is in the context, and in the deep margin, of a particular set of students who have awful relationships with a parent or parents. I can’t imagine Rod Montoya, if he was a teacher or principal in such a situation, would demand that student bring in the student’s parent or parents–as we know from experience, it is often one parent who is bad, and the other is an enabler, out of fear or indifference. Would you do that, Rod? Would you, really? I want to believe you wouldn’t. And Montoya’s point that the schools need to teach reading, writing, math, history, science, etc. is fine as far as it goes. But if a student is suffering mental issues or is pregnant and afraid, I don’t think anyone believes that student is going to do very well in school at that point. It is why schools end up having to deal with such situations in order to help students do better.

I wish Rod Montoya and his right wing legislators would stop with their fear mongering, which has unfortunately created conditions for hate and potentially violence to arise. They should recognize the good faith of our less right wing legislators in writing legislation that attempts to ensure protecting not only students who have sufficiently healthy parental relationships, but those who are suffering abuse or worse from those relatively few parents who are not behaving as good people with regard to their children.

Mitchell Freedman

Rio Rancho