Legislators Strike a Blow for Parent Rights: Two New Laws Put a Halt to Coercion of Parents to put Texas Children on Psychotropic Drugs
This 2003 session of the Texas legislature witnessed a historic victory in defense of parents' rights to make treatment decisions for their children. Responding to information provided by Texans For Safe Education, and to riveting testimony by parents, lawmakers passed two important new pieces of legislation. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Eagle Forum, and the Texas Home School Coalition were among other groups who supported these two bills.
House Bill 1406 Takes School Employees out of the Business of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Drug Prescription
House Bill 1406, sponsored by Representative Betty Brown, and carried in the Senate by Todd Staples, was a response to the fact that hundreds of thousands of Texas school children are being placed on psychotropic drugs, mostly at the initiative of teachers and other school employees. In committee hearings, parents repeatedly told stories of being pressured by the schools to diagnose and drug their children. Two parents shared with legislators the stories of their children's deaths due to psychotropic drugs.
Dr. John Breeding, Director of Texans For Safe Education, and author of The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses, told legislators that, "Millions of children nationwide are being put on dangerous, addictive, psychiatric drugs. The drugs have no positive long-term effects on any outcome. The alleged diseases for which they are prescribed, such as ADHD, have not been demonstrated to have any independent, objective indicators. In short, the science is not there, the diagnoses are questionable at best, and the drugs are clearly dangerous." By passing House Bill 1406, legislators showed their agreement that parents should have every right to make treatment decisions without coercion, and that the schools have no business being vendors for psychiatry.
House Bill 1406 makes it unlawful for school employees to recommend any psychotropic drug to a parent for their child, or to suggest a diagnosis for the child. The bill also makes it unlawful to exclude a child from any school activity because of a parents' refusal to consent to a psychiatric evaluation, treatment or drug.
In the year 2000, Texans For Safe Education went to the Texas State Board of Education with serious concern about the ever-increasing role of psychiatry, especially psychiatric drugs, in the schools. In November 2000, The State Board passed a resolution on psychiatric drugs in the schools, expressing serious concern about the overuse of psychiatric drugs such as Ritalin on school children. House Bill 1406 puts the power of law into the intent of the Board's non-binding resolution.
House Bill 320 Takes Child Protective Services out of the Business of Coercing Parents to Administer Psychotropic Drugs to their Children
Texas legislators also heard stories of what has been happening to Texas parents who refuse to yield to pressure from the schools to diagnose and drug their children. Parents and lawyers testified in committee hearings on House Bill 320, and shared stories of being threatened with accusations of medical neglect for refusing to consent to a psychiatric evaluation or administer a psychotropic drug to a child.
Lawmakers agreed that such coercion is wrong, House Bill 320, sponsored by Chairman Kent Grusendorf, and carried in the Senate by Troy Fraser, makes it unlawful to accuse parents of medical or educational neglect simply because they refuse to consent to a psychiatric evaluation, treatment, or drug. The bill also makes it illegal for school employees to threaten parents who refuse psychiatric recommendations with neglect and a call to Child Protective Services (CPS). According to this new law, parents may no longer be threatened and violated with a CPS investigations simply because they disagree with and refuse psychiatric evaluation and treatment.