Over the last 10 years or so I have observed a marked increased in the concerns expressed by parents, and others, as to what information is to be presented to students in school.
When I was young the big debate was whether schools should offer “sex education”. Even as a school age adolescent I found the discussion odd; not the content of the discussion, per se, but the very idea that such a discussion was taking place. Sex is real. Everyone has it. It is as real as the internal combustion engine, though far more complex from a psychological perspective.
I remember that parents who opposed sex education in the schools said that was the sort of thing that should be discussed in the home. They said that conversation should take place between parents and their children, in the home, when the time was right.
But that was a complete line of bullshit.
Very few of my school age peers ever had the “birds and bees” conversation with their parents. And that makes sense; people who are freaked out about a teacher putting up a slide and saying, “Now class, this is a penis, and this is a vagina” are not the parents who are going to have an open and honest discussion about sex with their children.
My parents had exactly zero interest in having that conversation with me. Fortunately, my mom had the good sense to buy me some age-appropriate books on sex when I was about 10 years old. Since I have always had a robust sense of curiosity, and I love to read, that worked for me. It may not have been a good option for other kids. But the books only gave me the technical facts about the physical coupling of males and females. I never received any adult input concerning the emotional aspects of sex.
Whether parents liked it or not, we did have sex education in my school. For me, it was fairly boring because I’d already “read the book” when I was 10. Actually, I probably read it several times! But like the books, the school instruction was still only technical in nature.
Looking back, am I glad there was sex education in my school? Absolutely! Unless we discussed it in class, there was no socially acceptable place for young adults to talk about it. You talked about with your buddies – who knew as little about it as you did (no matter how they tried to make it sound) – or you didn’t talk about it. Sex education in school brought the subject out of the closet.
“Out of the closet” brings us to our current era. The debate on sex education in schools is behind us. “Sex Ed” is as much a part of school curriculum today as is geometry, thought perhaps more useful in our daily lives!
Over the last several years another sexuality-related shift has occurred in society. That shift is that homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgenders are – finally – able to be as open about their sexuality as heterosexuals. With this shift has come the inevitable cries (from certain quarters) that schools should not inform students of the existence of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgenders; that during a block of instruction on human sexuality, the existence of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgenders should be intentionally excluded from the information presented. That sort of thinking makes me feel less than optimistic about America’s future as a “Land of Liberty”.
I grew up with the same friend living across the street from me from the time I was born until I moved out of my parent’s home. He was 6 months older than me. Starting about age 14 it became apparent (at least to me) that he was homosexual. At that time he didn’t mentioned it to me, nor did he ever engage in any conduct toward me that would confirm it. It just seemed to me that he had little interest in girls and was more effeminate than any 14 year old I knew.
When we were 16 he “came out” to me. It was really a non-revelation to me since I’d thought he was gay for some time. I don’t know what reaction he may have expected from me, but what he got was, “Are you happy with who you are?” He said he was. I told him that was all that mattered to me. That was the end of the discussion. From that time on, I dated girls, he dated boys. That was that. No big deal.
So you can see why I would be baffled that people contrive some “problem” with homosexuality (or bisexuality, or being transgender). I say “contrive” because the only problem with homosexuality is in the minds of the people who say there is a problem with it.
If there were an actual problem with being gay, then there would be a problem for the person who is gay. There isn’t. (The only problem gay people have that is particular to being gay is bigotry against gays.)
If there were an actual problem with being gay, then guys like me would have a problem with homosexuals. I don’t.
If there were an actual problem with being gay, then all Americans would see a problem with it. Millions of Americans feel there is zero problem with it.
Saying there is a problem with someone being homosexual is like saying there is a problem with someone having black skin. The problem is contrived in the mind of the bigot and conveys that the TRUE problem is within the bigoted person.
Lots of the folks who are bigoted toward homosexuals are Christians. Not all; but a high percentage. Many of these bigots claim being gay is a “choice”. While the truth is that it’s not a choice, let us pretend for a moment that it is. Being a Christian is also a choice! Should non-Christians take the position that being a Christian is a “problem” and start denying opportunities to Christians because being Christian is a “choice”? Christians would do well to keep that kind of backlash in mind when they use “it’s a choice” as their justification for bigotry and discrimination.
“But Dave! The Bible says homosexuality is a sin!” <sigh> Who cares? Last time I checked America was not a theocracy. Furthermore, Leviticus and Deuteronomy are filled with “sins” that are committed each and every day by virtually all Christians, and are in fact a daily way of life for the very same people pointing their accusatory fingers at homosexuals. So please, give that hypocritical bullshit a rest.
Because America is not a theocracy one’s religious opinions have no place in the operation of government, including schools. Jefferson articulated the “separation of church and state” doctrine. Naysayers respond with, “That isn’t in the Constitution.” True, but Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” statement was intended to provide the Danbury Baptist Church with clarity of meaning concerning the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.
Polling data varies, but a good working number that shouldn’t be particularly controversial is that roughly 115,000,000 Americans aren’t Christians and don’t share the religious opinions of Christians. Shall they, as equal participants in this country, be deprived of their opinions – and thus, their liberty – simply because Christians hold a different opinion? And from where would the constitutional authority come for Christians to impose their religious opinions on Americans who doesn’t share them? Answer: There is no such constitutional authority.
So, as we can see, for a myriad of reasons, religious opinions should not be, and constitutionally cannot be, a part of government operations. If one’s child is in a government school there can be no expectation that the school should, will, or can, refrain from teaching reality in order to accommodate anyone’s religious opinion.
Liberty demands that every citizen’s opinions receive equal value. That means government cannot put the opinions of one group above the opinions of any other group. And before the Christians say it…. No, teaching young people reality – even a reality you’d prefer didn’t exist – is not showing disrespect for your opinions. Providing factual data in an educational setting is never an act of disrespect.
Copyright Dave Champion 2015