"Missouri law requires every school district and charter school to notify each student's parent or guardian before providing any human sexuality materials," he points out to AFN. "The allegation is that the curriculum includes issues of transgender ideology [and] advertisement for a Planned Parenthood affiliate that supports abortion and promotes casual sex amongst teens. This is a clear violation of Missouri statute."
That statute, he continues, determines what teachers can and cannot discuss in class – and specifically states what can and cannot be taught when it comes to human sexuality. "And the statute explicitly provides that the school must notify the parents of the curriculum and provide the parents an opportunity to opt in or opt out," Bailey adds.
According to the AG, the incident has caused many parents to come forward with similar stories in Webster Groves School District and other districts as well.
"We're going to support parental rights," he vows. "At the end of the day, it's what the statute requires – but it's also what our constitutional structure requires. These are the parents' children, not the school district's children … and the parents have a right to ensure that their child's education comports with the parent's values."
As the AG states in the letter to the school district, parents get to make decisions about the kind of human sexuality education their children will receive – "and schools are legally obligated to respect parents' decisions."
Leave parents out of the loop? Expect to get notified
Jonathan Butcher of The Heritage Foundation says if there was no parental consent – and there apparently was not – then the district is in violation of the law.
"If the district is doing something that is keeping intentionally this material secretive from parents, I would argue that does, in fact, violate the Supreme Court decision that has said that parents have the right to direct the control and upbringing of their children," he tells AFN.
At issue is a slideshow 10th graders at Webster Groves were required to watch in October. It discussed gender identity, sexual orientation, and abortion and included information from Teen Health Source, a Planned Parenthood affiliate, that told students about "porn literacy" and "hookups" for casual sex.
The organization reportedly defines abortion as "a safe medical procedure that ends a pregnancy" and encourages minors to visit "transgender care" clinics that offer sterilizing hormone therapy and referrals for gender mutilation procedures.
"I do think that we are in the throes of a cultural shift of parents' expectations about how schools communicate with them over what books they're using, what's in the library," Butcher suggests.
After confirming that the district had received Bailey's letter, Derek Duncan, communications director for the school district, told The Daily Signal, "We will address and respond to the concerns raised in a cooperative and transparent manner."
Editor's note: Comments from AG Andrew Bailey added after story was originally posted.