Parental rights. It’s a term that burst into the public consciousness in recent years. This year alone, 82 bills have been introduced in 26 states under the banner of parental rights. On issues such as masking, vaccine mandates, critical race theory and book bans, parents are showing up at school board meetings to demand a greater say in their children’s education and lives. And it has coalesced into a powerful political force on the right.

[You can listen to this episode of “First Person” on Apple, Spotify or Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

Long before parents’ rights took center stage during the Covid pandemic, it was a cause championed overwhelmingly by the Christian home-schooling community. Will Estrada grew up in rural Pennsylvania in a family of eight home-schooled kids. Today he’s the president of the Parental Rights Foundation. In this episode, Estrada talks about the movement’s roots and why he believes the Democratic Party is missing an opportunity, and he answers Lulu Garcia-Navarro’s biggest question: Are parents’ rights truly rights for all parents, no matter their politics?

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

“First Person” is produced by Derek Arthur, Christina Djossa, Jason Pagano, Cristal Duhaime, Olivia Natt and Courtney Stein. The show is edited by Kaari Pitkin, Stephanie Joyce and Lisa Tobin. Scoring by Isaac Jones, Pat McCusker and Carole Sabouraud. Mixing by Isaac Jones. Fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta, with editorial support from Kristina Samulewski. The executive producer is Irene Noguchi, and the director of New York Times audio is Paula Szuchman. Special thanks to Kristin Lin, Jeffrey Miranda, Kate Sinclair, Patrick Healy and Katie Kingsbury.

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