Surprise: Parental Rights Win One

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

**Previously recorded by Phyllis Schlafly // March 2009 **

A public school program called “Teen Screen” subjects teenagers to psychological evaluation, labeling, and stigmatizing. Teen screen is marketed as a “voluntary mental health check-up.” It is supposed to identify teenagers at risk for suicide. Though it claims to be voluntary, and despite assurances that parental rights will be respected, the psychological evaluation is given to many students without meaningful notice and consent.

A 15-year-old high school sophomore in Indiana named Chelsea Rhoades was given this psychological assessment in 2004. She was pulled out of class, told to sign a form, never told that the test was voluntary. After Chelsea had completed the screening, she was told she had “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for cleaning and social anxiety disorder,” and that she should seek treatment. That stigmatized her as having a psychiatric disorder. Chelsea Rhoades and her parents filed suit against the school, complaining that their constitutional rights had been violated. They sought damages due to the school not obtaining parental consent before the test, and for diagnosing Chelsea without due care.

The public school expected to win in court. After all, public schools usually do win in court. The school insisted that “teen screen” was optional and confidential, and that there was no compulsion or harm. To the school’s amazement, the Court held in favor of parental rights! The Court was impressed by the absence of any evidence that any students had declined taking the test. The Court held that the “students simply signed the form because they were told to do so, and did not understand that they had a choice.”

Parents, if your children are in public school, you should wain them not to answer any of these nosy questionnaires or surveys that are not academic and which ask for answers to privacy-invading questions that are absolutely none of the school’s business.

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