Cathy Ruse on the Fight Parents Face in Public Schools

June 10, 2020 Updated: June 11, 2020

Cathy Ruse says she’ll never forget the first school board meeting she attended: a father got up to the podium with a piece of paper in his hand, and then started on a shocking, profanity-laden tirade.

It was bizarre and disruptive to the point that the chairwoman reached for the gavel to interrupt. But then the father stopped and explained that this was from the first page of the reading assignment his daughter was given.

“It was just a really stunning point that he made,” Ruse said.

Ruse is a lawyer, and has spent her career fighting on the national level for the big issues that affect family and life. She was the spokesperson on human life issues for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, chief counsel on the Constitution subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives under U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, and is a recognized expert on topics such as civil rights, pro-life issues, and religious freedom.

She’s currently a senior fellow and the director of human dignity at the Family Research Council, a nonprofit research organization focused on family issues in public policy. 

Epoch Times Photo
Cathy Ruse is a senior fellow and director of human dignity at the Family Research Council. (Family Research Council)

But it was more recently that Ruse turned her focus to local matters. When she heard that her local school board had voted to let boys use the girls’ bathrooms, and vice versa, in public schools, “that got my attention,” she said.

Ruse dug into the matter and discovered there was only one vote against the policy, and she wanted to know who that was. Ruse started going to her local Fairfax County board meetings in Northern Virginia.

She discovered that a politically charged, propaganda-filled, 70-hour-per-student sex education curriculum in her local district was underway in classrooms (which parents are told once at the beginning of the year that it will be “family life education”). The meetings were horrific and telling. A board member would apologize for using “graphic terms,” while confirming that eighth-graders were being taught about a variety of sexual acts, including the “how-to’s,” without any moral framework.

Motions to include teaching health risks of items on the curriculum (such as various contraceptives and hormonal and surgical transitioning) were rejected multiple times. Ruse saw desperate parents trying to advocate for their children and felt their deep frustration.

Not only that, but she realized public schools were turning students into ideologues en masse, dictating the culture of the next generation.

At the Expense of Education

Ruse’s daughters attend a Catholic school, not the local public school, but what’s happening in public schools affects the whole country. This becomes the philosophy of the society, courts, and government of the next generation. Plus, your tax dollars fund these programs.

“The reality is, the majority of American kids are going to continue to be educated in public schools for the foreseeable future, even if there’s a mass exodus and even if the lockdown is making parents rethink public education in the future,” Ruse said.

“It’s naive to think there is going to be no impact on the child going through and getting these messages for all these years, or no impact on the culture,” Ruse said.

Ruse’s local school district is more left-leaning than most, but public schools around the country face similar issues: their sex-ed courses, often outsourced, are being used as a way to indoctrinate children with tactics that are chillingly reminiscent of those used by propaganda arms of totalitarian regimes. Speech is ideologically restricted (for example, the terms “sex assigned at birth” are used instead of “biological sex”—making it a matter of choice versus biological reality) and dissent is met with shaming.

She added that the long hours dedicated to sex education come at a time when two-thirds of students aren’t proficient readers and achievement levels continue to decline across the country.

The result is that these schools turn out ideologues who “don’t know if they’re male or female, but they have a lot of anger at our country. How is that going to turn out?” Ruse said.

There is a real and damaging effect on young minds that learn, beginning as early as kindergarten, that they may be in the wrong body and the remedy is drugs and surgery, and that they should expect to have many sexual partners, with the highest moral imperative being to get their consent (“building skills around consent mean moving beyond the ‘how to say no’ model,” according to one lesson).

“It was such a bald-faced lie that is being taught to kids, that they could be born in the wrong body. Such a sinister … it’s so bad, I couldn’t turn my gaze away,” Ruse said.

Making Parents Aware

She recently put together a brochure of her findings, with the intention of telling parents what really occurs in public schools. Many parents aren’t aware, but some have already dealt with tearful young children coming home feeling violated after some of these lessons.

“I’m reporting what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard because parents are in the dark,” she said. “They assume sex ed is one thing—they don’t know it’s radically changed.”

A recent study by the Institute for Research & Evaluation found that some of these sex-ed programs actually lead to increased sexual activity, number of partners, and experimentation by students, all of which are things students are told is healthy and normal in some lessons.

“Not one parent I know shares that goal,” Ruse said.

Ruse says the parents she’s been in touch with aren’t winning. Despite their impassioned arguments and tearful stories, boards continue to vote against them, and the lessons continue.

“They’re losing, but they’re still fighting,” she said.

“The most important piece of advice for parents: [You] must be very present [at] your school. Ask for all of the material your child will be taught, in advance. That’s your right. Make the school know that you are watching and are ready to act,” Ruse said.

Ruse advises parents to ground their children by telling them about marriage and its moral or religious nature, and by inculcating their family values in matters of human sexuality and marriage, instead of leaving things to chance.

Some school districts have an option to opt out (possibly only at the beginning of the school year), but some don’t. Ruse urges parents to find out what is actually in the lessons, rather than reading the summary (in one case, an “abstinence until marriage” lesson included zero references to marriage, but told students about the option of abstaining from sexual activity until their next monogamous partner), and to keep an eye on school calendars that are chock-full of awareness days and weeks that further indoctrination.

Ruse also wants to remind parents they aren’t alone. The fight may be an uphill one, but to help your child resist cultural efforts to diminish and demean human dignity is a worthy one, and parents are children’s first educators. The brochure ends with links to additional resources, including a universal opt-out letter and even schooling alternatives, and Ruse reminds that even if your kids are out of public school, the majority in the nation is not, and we should pay attention.