Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
An international human-rights organization today announced it will pursue a civil lawsuit on behalf of parents who want to control their children’s education and withhold them from explicit sex-education and playacting classes required by the German government.
Joel Thornton of the International Human Rights Group told WND the government in Salzkotten, Germany, is sending the fathers of the children to jail for terms of one week because they have refused to turn their children over to school officials for mandated sex classes.
According to a report from Richard Guenther, European director for the group, eight families of Christians have decided to withhold their children from required sex-education classes in Salzkotten.
Sex-education classes in Germany are explicit, and the issue is one of the major reasons why families – and not just Christian families – choose to homeschool their children even though the government has maintained its illegality since the days of Hitler.
The students who are being held out of sex-education classes also are not being allowed by their parents to participate in a playacting program called “My Body Belongs to Me,” which essentially teaches children how to engage in sex, the report said.
Guenther reported that one father already has served his week in jail and is scheduled to be released this weekend, while the fathers of seven more families still are facing a similar fate.
The government already has imposed fines on the families, which continue to accrue. Thornton said the families are being targeted with a “Bussgeld,” a fine described as “repentance money” designed to show contrition for wrong behavior.
The families so far have refused to pay because that would be admitting guilt.
Thornton said the cases being brought against the families – whose names are being withheld for the protection of the children – reveal the dedication among German officials to punish parents who refuse to hand over their children to the state for education purposes.
The government’s determination is evident, Thornton said, whether parents are objecting to an explicit sex class or whether the family chooses to homeschool their children.
“Unlike American officials, German officials do not recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of offensive classes such as sex education which overrides the parent’s beliefs or desires for their own children,” Thornton said.
“One of the reasons for this is that German officials view the children as belonging to the state, particularly during the time they are in school,” he said.
So the human-rights group has launched a new “radical approach” in Germany.
“Early next year, January or February, we will be filing a civil lawsuit on behalf of a number of homeschool families to try and force the court to recognize the rights of parents to control the education of their children,” Thornton said. “We will not continue to only react to these forceful actions by state officials against these families.”
Michael Farris, who heads the U.S.-based Parental Rights website, said it’s not surprising that the German government is reacting the way it is.
“They basically believe that the government knows best in every sector of life,” he said.
He said the actions also align with the general international sympathy for U.N. protocols such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which essentially gives children rights to make their own decisions on every facet of their lives.
He cited a case a decade ago when the government of Wales allowed parents to opt children out of sex programs and it was found to have been in violation of the convention because it did not first consult the children about their desires.
There’s also no assurance that the U.S. is immune to such draconian measures, officials said.
According to the group, Roesch blasted the parents for seeking enforcement of a provision of the California Education Code that gives parents a right to opt their kids out of health education.
Education Code Section 51240 allows a parent to have a student excused from instruction, “If any part of a school’s instruction in health conflicts with the religious training and beliefs of a parent or guardian of a pupil.”
However, Pacific Justice Institute said Roesch repeatedly insinuated that the parents are bigots. In his opinion Roesch said the opt-out provision “is not reasonably construed to include instruction in family life education, but was intended to be more limited in scope.”
“We believe that this ruling against parents is inconsistent with the Education Code, and we are looking forward to continuing this battle until opt-out rights are restored on appeal, or the curriculum is changed,” Pacific Justice Institute Chief Counsel Kevin Snider said in a statement.
Germany has been notorious for its treatment of parents who decide to homeschool their children. Just weeks ago, a mother and father in Archfeld were fined $181 for homeschooling their children by a judge who spared them the jail sentences demanded by the prosecutor, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.
But the ruling from the judge, identified only by his surname of Drier, said the parents were guilty under the criminal law in the German state of Hessen of homeschooling even though they were providing a good education for their children.
He fined them 120 euros, or $181.
“We recognize in our German basic law about philosophical and religious conviction and that parents have rights, but the basic law also includes that it is the state’s role to educate all children,” the judge ruled.
Practical Homeschool Magazine has noted one of the first acts by Hitler when he moved into power was to create the governmental Ministry of Education and give it control of all schools and school-related issues.
In 1937, the dictator said, “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, commented previously on the issue, contending the government “has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion.”
Drautz said schools teach socialization, and as WND reported, that is important, as evident in the government’s response when a German family in another case wrote objecting to police officers picking their child up at home and delivering him to a public school.
“The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling,” said a government letter in response. “You complain about the forced school escort of primary-school children by the responsible local police officers. … In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement.”