Democrats risk repeating errors from VA gov race by siding against parents' rights

Floridians react to Disney’s "wokeness" after DeSantis passes Parental Rights in Education bill

Parents were the dominant voice that turned the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race’s tide in favor of Republican now-Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Yet there are concerns the Democratic Party risks repeating errors made by former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s 2021 campaign by siding against parents’ rights in education.

Both Republican and Democrat lawmakers gave their thoughts about the conversation surrounding the issue of parents’ power in their kids’ education.

U.S. President Joe Biden greets Terry McAuliffe, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Virginia, during a campaign event in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor is locked in a dead heat with Glenn Youngkin, a former co-chief executive officer ofCarlyle Group Inc., ahead of next week’s election. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
( Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., blasted the Democrats as prioritizing waging “a war on parents” and said that Republicans “standing up for parents and kids” is one of many factors that will contribute to Republicans flipping the House.

“Big-government Democrats have made it their number one priority over the last year to wage a war on parents, from colluding with union bosses to keep kids shut out of schools, to trying to label parents as domestic terrorists for taking an active interest in their kids’ education by speaking out at school board meetings,” Scalise said. 

“Now, Biden and his extremist allies are doubling down on this insanity by trying to force sex education on five-year-olds without the consent of their parents.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 29: U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) delivers remarks during a Republican-led forum on the origins of the COVID-19 virus at the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. The forum examined the theory that the coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“As we saw in Virginia, parents will not stand for this and will not support a political party that tries to take away their rights to have a say in their kids’ education,” he continued. “Republicans will continue to stand up for parents and kids against this liberal lunacy and government control, and that’s one of the many reasons we will win back the House in November.”

House Republican Conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York told Fox News Digital that parents “are the primary stakeholders in their children’s education, not the federal government or Far-Left activists.”

UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 26: House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center after a meeting of the conference on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. 
(Tom Williams/Getty)

“Democrat politicians across America have failed to learn these lessons from Glenn Youngkin’s historic victory last November in Virginia and are now doomed to a similar fate as Terry McAuliffe on the national level,” Stefanik said. “When House Republicans earn back the majority this November, we will enact our Parents Bill of Rights. This legislation will make it clear that parents matter and should have a voice in their child’s education.”

Meanwhile, Jayce Genco, spokesperson for Virginia Democrat Rep. Elaine Luria’s re-election campaign, told Fox News Digital that as “a mother, Rep. Luria knows the importance of parents’ role in their children’s education.”

“Rep. Luria will continue to fight for Hampton Roads, and our campaign is laser-focused on affordable and accessible health care, quality education, opportunities for all families, improving services for veterans and military personnel, and the issues that matter most to Coastal Virginians,” Genco continued.

Youngkin alumni and conservative education thought leaders also weighed in on the Democrats’ advocacy against bills like the Florida bill, which the blue party called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Matt Wolking, a Republican strategist for Axiom Strategies and the communications director for Youngkin’s winning 2021 campaign, said Democrats are adopting McAuliffe’s “strategy” nationwide.

“It’s the Terry McAuliffe strategy all over again,” Wolking said. “McAuliffe’s campaign was all about January 6, his claims that Virginia’s economic growth and cost of living were just fine, defending critical race theory and opposing parents’ rights in education, including curriculum transparency.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin works in the old Governor’s office at the Capitol Wednesday March 2, 2022, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
( (AP Photo/Steve Helber))

“Now Democrats nationwide are running on the exact same platform,” he continued. “It’s like they saw McAuliffe lose decisively in a state Biden won by 10 points and thought, ‘hold my beer.’”

The Heritage Foundation education fellow Jonathan Butcher told Fox News Digital that any “official who is advocating against parents’ rights today is missing the importance of this cultural moment.”

“The facts are plain—schools are withholding information about children from their parents; the evidence is in school district operating manuals, for example,” Butcher said. “Special interest groups are colluding with Washington to prevent parents from speaking out.”

“These parent bills of rights are urgent because they affirm that parents are the primary caregivers for their children and should be in charge of their moral and religious upbringing, Butcher continued. “And schools must get permission from parents before any medical services are provided, including counseling or guidance regarding a child’s gender.”

A portrait of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis
(Office of the Florida Governor)

Butcher added that “policymakers and schools should be making it easier for parents to be a part of their child’s education, not harder.”

The Democrats’ nationwide push against bills like the one backed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may not resonate with Americans.

In Florida alone, the bill Democrats labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill has seen robust bipartisan support from voters, with several polls illustrating the widespread approval of the legislation.

In fact, 52 percent of Democrats in Florida approved of the DeSantis-backed Parental Rights in Education bill, according to a poll by Floridians for Economic Advancement.

“As you may know, the Florida legislature has passed a bill — labeled by opponents as the ’Don’t Say Gay’ bill — limiting the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to Florida school students,” a Morning Consult poll told respondents. “Some say that limiting these discussions will protect children from inappropriate classroom topics, while others say it will block important conversations about LGBTQ issues. To what extent do you support or oppose the following items in the bill?”

Among all respondents, 50% said they either strongly support or somewhat support the key aspects of the legislation. Only 37% of those polled said they explicitly oppose the bill’s key clauses.

Fox News Digital’s Timothy Nerozzi contributed reporting.

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