Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Parental Rights- When the Sign Says “No Parents Allowed” logo
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August 6, 2014

When the Sign Says “No Parents Allowed”

Perhaps this has happened to you. You walk into the doctor’s or the dentist’s office and you find a sign like the one shown at right. “Parents: Due to new HIPAA and OSHA regulations you are not permitted beyond this point!”

What can you do? And what should you do?

For many, the first response is disbelief, followed by anger. Maybe you’re thinking, as a commenter on our Facebook post of this weekend did, “Whole lotta NOPE going on right here!” But the best response is generally to talk with the staff.

Some practices really do fail to respect the special role parents play in a young patient’s life. But most professionals understand and appreciate what parents bring to the table. (And as another commented, it is often not the doctor but overreaching government that is pushing them to “police” you anyway. The doctor may well be on your side!)

So start with a practice you trust. If you are new to an area, ask around. Go in and “interview” the office. Learn their reputation. Then, as one dental professional suggested, go yourself before you take your child. Were you comfortable enough with them when they cleaned your teeth to let them work on your child as well? (Obviously this advice is of no use in the emergency room, but great for the dentist or family doctor.)

You might assume, as many did when we posted this picture (and as we did ourselves) that the dentist is claiming falsely that new HIPAA guidelines require them to separate parent from child to protect the child’s privacy. What we learned from the West Virginia dentist’s office where this picture was taken, however, was that their office’s open floor plan forces them to balance parental rights against the privacy of the person in the next bay over. Parents, however, are always included in their child’s exam and all decision making. When they saw how their sign was misunderstood, they quickly took it down, and they have assured us that they respect the role of parents with their children.

In the case of Michigan mother Christy Duffy two months ago, it took a public outcry to drive the hospital to back away from its posted policy. In this current case, all it took was a conversation. (The practice also received a good deal of heat from our post, but that proved to be unnecessary.)

So talk to your doctor or dentist. If you see a sign like this one, ask them about it. If it is truly their intention to stand between you and your child, find a new doctor. If it is not, you might graciously suggest they fix their sign. Either way, both your children and our cause will be served best by a polite and civil discourse for as long as that is possible.

CRPD Update and August Recess

Now, when discourse fails, we apply the massive pressure that only concerned parents can bring. And that is just what we expect we will need to halt the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this fall.

We made it to August recess without a vote in the Senate, but your senators need to hear from you now more than ever. The closer we get to the end of the term in December, the harder treaty proponents will push for a vote that could ultimately rob parents of their parental rights.

Action Items

So please take a moment now to line up a visit to your senators’ offices while they are home for August recess. You can find a step-by-step visit guide at

Then, secure your membership to Your $50 annual donation will give you access to Elite Member content, including this month’s package on Internet Safety. As an added bonus (and in light of the uproar that today’s sign has caused), we will also include last month’s package on Parental Rights in the Medical Setting at no extra charge.

Finally, talk about parental rights. Talk to your friends and family, your doctor and dentist, your child’s teachers and administrators, and anyone else who will listen. The more your rights are known, the less likely they are to be overridden by accident – and the less those who would do so on purpose will be able to get away with it!


Michael Ramey
Dir. of Communications & Research

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