SOUTHINGTON – A grass roots group of parents from Southington and other local towns has formed to make their voices heard in local school districts, arguing parents should be able to opt out of their children wearing masks or being exposed to critical race theory or LGBT curriculum.
Susan Zabohonski, one of the founders of the group “Parent’s Choice,” along with Amy Bourdon, said members will demonstrate prior to area Board of Education meetings and speak during the meetings.
“Our group members will be demanding that Boards of Education restore our parental rights to do what we know is best for our own children,” Zabohonski said. “Parent’s Choice will be challenging BOE members to push back on the DPH commissioners and not their own constituents who elected them to office.”
Bourdon said covid cases remain low in school aged children in Connecticut and mortality of children from the disease is “extremely rare.”
“We are not taking away anyone else’s freedom in order to regain ours and that of our children,” she said. “Parent’s Choice takes into consideration what is happening in our community, state, region and across the country.”
Zabohonski said her daughter attends a private school which “had a very successful school year without masks.”
“We saw that it could be done successfully,” she said. “I had parents in the Unmask CT group reach out to me for how I could help their children attain the same freedom my child had.”
Zabohonski criticized the response to covid-19.
“Double messages are being sent all the time; it’s a mess,” she said. “From the beginning we were only supposed to spend two weeks in lockdown so hospitals would not be overwhelmed. Now, here we are, 18 months into this. Teachers had the chance to get vaccinated. There haven’t been outbreaks related to students giving covid to adults and there is almost no mortality rate in children.”
Zabohonski added she wants to see school systems being “transparent” about what is being taught in the school system. She said parents should be able to choose if their children are involved in LGBT curriculum or “diversity curriculum.”
“We’re taking on all of it,” she said.
“Parent’s Choice” meets via Zoom, social media and in-person events. One of their recent meetings was attended by local legislators, Sen. Rob Sampson and Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, both of whom have expressed their support for the group.
“I support them 100%,” Sampson said. “While I believe very strongly in not interfering with local government decisions as a member of the state legislature, I do believe that personal health decisions should be left up to the parents. The science is clear that children are not particularly at risk for this virus. The curve is flat. I think that Boards of Education should recognize that they don’t work for the governor or public health commissioner but for the citizens that elect them.”
Mastrofrancesco said the response to covid-19 has gone from “14 days to flatten the curve” to “a never-ending political tool for bureaucrats to infringe on our individual liberties.” “This will continue until people stand up and say enough is enough,” she said. “I’m happy that this group started up and is speaking up; I certainly support them. The people have more power than they think they do. The Board of Education works for the community and the constituents. They have the control and the power. People should remember that.”
Sampson said he wants to see critical race theory removed from school systems.
“It comes from Marxism,” he said. “It says that race is determinative, which to me is the core of racism. I have parents coming to me mad that their children are coming home talking to them about ‘systemic racism,’ ‘white privilege’ and ‘white fragility.’ If you’re going to tell me that all whites are oppressors and all blacks are oppressed I want that out of the school system. I’m not down on teachers at all, but I don’t think teachers want to end up in situations where they are subjected to having to teach politics in the classroom. We need to get this out of our culture.”
Sampson said he believes that, culturally, those who oppose critical race theory are “winning” as more people are “seeing what’s going on.”
“You just have to use the words of the people promoting that stuff and expose it,” he said. “They are advocating for racism. I believe in lifting people up and giving everyone the same opportunity to succeed.”
Mastrofrancesco agreed that critical race theory should “not be taught in school at all.”
“We should be learning about history and facts and no political opinion should be taught in any curriculum,” she said. “That is not the purpose of school. They are trying to change the behavior and thought patterns of children who are very young and vulnerable. I was brought up to treat everyone equally regardless of race and I think opposition to this curriculum is gaining momentum. People have had enough.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.