Just over a year ago, my life took a turn of events that I would never have expected. For the past 14 months, I have been given opportunities to play a more active part in defending the institution of the family. In retrospect, it all began when Elder Russell M. Nelson gave his talk “A Plea to My Sisters” in October 2015 General Conference. His words sunk deep into my soul, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I made a commitment right then and there to do whatever was needed. However, I had no idea the need was urgent, and there was an opportunity right around the corner.
In January of 2016, I simply attended a school meeting at my children’s elementary school regarding changing government guidelines related to gender identity (transgender) and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and its application in Alberta education. My husband and I had skimmed through the literature before the meeting, yet I had little idea what this was really about or how I would be involved. I convinced my husband to attend with me, as I wondered if his legal background could possibly be of help. When we got there, we found our school board alarmed and left scrambling to explain the new government guidelines to parents. Administration, board, parents and teachers were equally concerned with how these guidelines were being implemented so quickly and forcefully by our Minister of Education with threats of disbandment for those boards who did not comply. The concerns parents voiced generally circulated around the emotional health and safety of children. The most concerning fact for most was that they were bypassing parents completely, and putting children in a position where they could be counseled in isolation regarding sexual matters without parental notification or consent – and they were doing it by force. Through these policies, secrets were encouraged and applauded. My stomach was in knots. My discerning, motherly instincts kicked into high gear and I could see layers of problems with their ideas. I knew it was a direct threat to the parent/child bond, the risk of abuse, not to mention a direct threat to the psychological well-being of all children. In an effort to be what they called “safe and caring”, they were putting all children at risk. Something they called “The Guidelines for Best Practices” felt like an entirely worst practice ever and they were forcing school boards across the province to draft their policies from this document!
After the meeting, a group of parents huddled in the boot-room and talked for over an hour in an attempt to process what was happening. Many logical and sound questions were raised. We decided in that boot room that we needed to create a group where we could discuss these issues further. Someone suggested I start a private Facebook group. So I did but had no idea that in just a few short weeks it would blow up to over 20,000 people. Parents invited parents who invited more parents.
As the administrator of this group, I was in a unique position to lead. It was like a noisy gymnasium of parents – clamoring for answers – and they were asking little me. I knew I needed to learn and learn quickly. I took a deep breath and said a fervent prayer. When the group got to about 12,000, I asked my husband to reach out to an individual in the legal field who had written some articles on the subject, who in turn directed him to Donna Trimble, the Executive Director of a grassroots organization called “Parents For Choice In Education” (PCE). My husband introduced me to her since he really didn’t have time manage a group of 20,000 people. With her help, I quickly learned about parent choice, the Bill that was on the table and what it meant for families, and the fact that this organization had been trying to bring public awareness of these policies for over a year. In fact, when she heard about my Facebook group, she was ecstatic, as she had been hoping and praying for more support of parents to fight what she knew was very dangerous for parental choice and the safety of children. Within a few days, she asked me to join the board and we became friends.
I had no idea that I would be helping her with preparations for Parents Choice in Education-sponsored rallies, that I would be speaking at a rally in front of 2000 people, that I would be cited in the news, speaking on the radio, speaking to groups of parents, writing articles, building a website, nor that I would have the opportunity to meet with our Minister of Education to explain the dangers from a health and safety standpoint of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). None of this has been overly comfortable or convenient, but it has been necessary, and the Lord took my hand and showed me how as I had faith in Him. He’s truly magnified my meager efforts.
It’s interesting how the Lord prepares us to do His work and how He never leaves us alone. I have felt the spirit incredibly this year. Spiritual nudges have accompanied me with every post, every article and each time I’ve presented. I learned that just being willing is enough. The learning came as needed information was presented to me and I was willing to read and learn. Many times I have felt the Savior’s love encircle me as I have defended His gospel in a kind and courteous, yet direct, manner. Sharing the truth has been my sole quest. I have learned the Lord will walk right along side us as we are faithful and willing. It has been an exercise to increase my trust in the Lord. I have also felt Him increase His trust in me. I often wake up with new thoughts – personal revelation meant just for me. Now I am just gathering the courage to act and carefully implement ideas with the guidance of the spirit.
I truly believe that each of us can do something to defend and protect the family. We are all called to the work because of our covenants. My experiences are unique to me – your experiences will be unique to you. We all have different gifts and abilities. But with faith, the Lord will expand, strengthen and direct us in the how. There are many ways we can stand.
We all know the world at this particular time is in turmoil. Evil is called good and good is called evil. As covenant women, we have a sacred responsibility to defend the most important institution: The Family. As we do so, the Lord will be with us. We are promised that He will be on our right and on our left and that angels will attend to bear us up. We will be given words to speak and ways to articulate that will break down barriers and replace animosity with understanding. We will be guided with our children and families, and be given opportunities to be defenders of the truth as we are willing and in ways that the Lord has designed just for us.
Author Sara Baril is a family advocate with Parents Choice in Education and an LDS songwriter. Her music has been frequently used over the last 15 years at many church programs she has also written various songs in support of the annual auxiliary themes within the LDS Church. She and her husband have five children and reside in southern Alberta. When she’s not writing music, she’s busy catching up on housework and attending her children’s ball games. Her music can be found at www.saralynbaril.com.