Mandatory Public School Health Education Classes Upheld

Leebaert v. Harrington, 332 F.3d 134 (2d Cir. 2003); 71(50) U.S. Law Week 1805-06 (July 1, 2003)

The Second Circuit ruled parents do not have a fundamental right to object to a requirement that their children attend health education classes at their public school.  A father objected to his child's required attendance at a Connecticut seventh grade health education class covering alcohol, drugs, tobacco, family life, and AIDS education.  The father asserted he was exercising his rights and those of his son in pursuing home schooling concerning "health, morals, ethical and personal behavior."  The child was excused from the family life and AIDS education portions of the class but not the rest of the curriculum.  The father filed suit claiming that this requirement violated his due process and free exercise of religion rights. The Second Circuit determined a parent does not have a fundamental right to tell a public school what his or her child will and will not be taught. As a result, the state need only establish a rational basis for its mandatory curriculum. Because the father did not dispute that mandatory attendance at health classes is reasonably related to the legitimate state interest in promoting child health and welfare, the court rejected the father's objection....

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1