The Minnesota Parents Alliance packed a room in Golden Valley Sunday afternoon for an event geared toward Somali parents, many of whom were shocked and alarmed to discover some of the materials available to their kids.
Public school priorities are increasingly at odds with the family values and religious beliefs of the Somali community, speakers at the event explained.
“Our Somali community is very concerned for their school children. Public schools are sexualizing our children. Topics being discussed with our children are inappropriate, confusing and in conflict with our family values and religious beliefs,” said Shukri Abdirahman, a former Republican congressional candidate who organized the event with the alliance.
The event, called “Protecting Our Children,” turned out approximately 100 people, with the majority being from the Somali community, and outlined their rights as parents.
“The Somali community weren’t completely aware of what was happening, and I felt there was a need for them to get a complete understanding and that’s where Minnesota Parents Alliance came in,” Abdirahman said.
Cristine Trooien of the Minnesota Parents Alliance said every parent knows their kids are being indoctrinated to some degree, but the event itself provided more specifics.
“Past events, half or more of the audience you feel like you’re preaching to the choir because they come with that knowledge,” Trooien said. With Sunday’s event, “that room was filled with parents who had literally no idea to the degree of what was happening. I saw a lot of shock, a lot of surprise, and a lot of alarm.”
Abdirahman said she received a lot of phone calls after the event and one of the main concerns she was hearing was about the freedom of religion. “Things that go against our religion are being forced onto us,” Abdirahman said.
Parents who attended the event were looking for resources on what they can do, she said.
Trooien, whose organization is focused on restoring parent and teacher partnerships, provided attendees with a sample letter they can send to teachers. The letter asks teachers to notify parents before their children participate in lessons on sexuality, gender identity, anti-racism, and more.
The second step parents can take is utilizing state and federal laws that allow them to opt their children out of programs that go against their values.
Abdirahman explained that even opting out of specific lessons doesn’t completely protect children from graphic materials that might be in school.
“That requires all parents from all backgrounds to step up and speak out, whether it be posters on the wall or books in the library,” Trooien said.
The third step is for parents to support like-minded candidates in school board races, which are nonpartisan elections, she explained.
Abdirahman also argued that the Somali community would benefit from a school choice program in Minnesota. “We have opened three Islamic schools in the state, and having a voucher would very much help the families who have concerns about the public schools,” she said.
She said she was motivated to get involved after seeing how ideological education has become.
“It’s unacceptable to make this kind of environment for our children. It should be specifically about academics. The parents are the ones who have a role in their children’s lives to teach whatever values they want. The school’s role is for academics and it’s impacting our freedom of religion,” Abdirahman said.
She said the Minnesota Parents Alliance plans to schedule another event for the Somali community in December.