Parents in Alameda, California, are upset at a new “acceptance” curriculum instituted by the local school district that includes “compulsory lessons about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community that will be taught to children as young as 5 years old,” Fox News reports.
The question is whether the lessons are appropriate material for young children to receive at school.
While the official purpose of the lessons is to promote respect and reduce bullying, the question is whether the lessons are appropriate material for young children to receive at school. Among the materials is the children’s book And Tango Makes Three, which tells the story of gay penguins “struggling to create a family.”
According to the report, part of the motivation for the new curriculum are teachers’ complaints that even kindergarten students are using such slurs as “fag.” Ryan Schwartz of GroundSpark, one of the curriculum providers, stated: “Instead of having to police the schoolyard for bullying, this curriculum is designed to prevent it from the beginning.”
Preventing bullying is certainly an admirable goal, but Karen England of California family values watchdog Capitol Resource Institute tells a different story:
“Under law, there are five categories of protected classes when it comes to discrimination. The curriculum focuses on only one subgroup protected under anti-discrimination laws: sexual orientation [and not others, such as religion]. This indicates an agenda is being pushed, as opposed to an altruistic attempt to teach tolerance.”
More importantly, the fact that parents would not be able to exempt their children from the lessons has many unhappy. “These children are far too young to be learning about what these issues mean. These are adult issues and they are being thrust upon the children,” explained parent Alaina Stewart.
We’ll admit that there is a dilemma at the heart of this debate: can a public school teach anti-bullying and pro-respect lessons when it comes to sexual orientation without effectively taking a stance in the debate over gay rights, or without appearing to endorse homosexuality? However, it seems disingenuous for school board officials to presume that presenting elementary schoolchildren with materials like And Tango Makes Three and That’s a Family! wouldn’t be controversial. More importantly, denying parents the ability to exempt their children from such seeming indoctrination reinforces the allegation that the motivation for this new curriculum is a political agenda.
In any case, the debate serves as a reminder of why parents can’t expect public schools (or even many private schools) to be “neutral” when it comes to worldviews and religious issues. Only by taking a proactive stance can parents dutifully train up their children the way they should go.
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