Parents and others from across Montana gathered in Helena on Saturday on the steps of the State Capitol building to celebrate the October 1st effective date of SB 400, also known as the ‘Parental Rights Bill”.

The core message shared by various speakers was the inherent rights of parents in medical and educational decisions regarding their children.

One of the speakers was Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Elsie Arntzen, who spoke of the teaching profession throughout her family’s history.

Another speaker was Brian Cayko, a respiratory therapist from Great Falls, who spoke forcefully against the mask mandates currently in effect in Montana’s public schools.

“If it wasn't for the fear,” began Cayko. “This is called coercion, people. If it wasn't for the fear of them dropping their GPAs and losing out on scholarships or potential future opportunities, they would not comply with this (mandate), but they're scared and so they comply, and that's the truth of the matter.”

Cayko continued with his comments about masking.

“This has been admitted by school principals, they know the policy is wrong, they admit it, yet they still continue to do this and then force and segregate students to be either learn remotely or put them in the front of the room or back of the room. They forced them into hallways early or late so that they will be segregated. This is unlawful. It's not right. It's not dignity.”

Cayko said many teachers are not in favor of the mask mandates, but cannot speak up because they may lose their jobs.

“A lot of our teachers are fed up with this,” he said “They don't like it. They don't agree with it. But they are forced under the same coercion and under the same bullying. The definition of bullying is when someone holds a power difference over you and they use that power difference in order to coerce you into doing something, and that's what is happening with our students and with our teachers and we need it to stop.”

Another parent, Scott Yablonskli from Great Falls, provided his opinion on the mask mandates to the crowd on the Capitol steps.

“We must move forward and not backwards,” said Yablonski. “We're not going to segregate our kids any longer. Those that feel that they

need the mask, so be it. This is a choice. This is America that we live in.

We do not live in that era that we had to segregate everybody.

We are one people. That is it, and nothing more.”

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