Friday, April 28, 2006

How Dare You

Parents in Massachusetts are suing the school district that taught tolerance of homosexual families because it didn’t inform the parents about the upcoming lesson and thereby give them a chance to have their child stay home from school that day. My anger at this situation goes beyond the fact that the parents think it is their legal right to prevent their child from hearing discussions on tolerance and openness. I have a feeling parents said the same thing when schools tried to teach tolerance of interracial couples.

The problem I have is that some parents feel they should have the freedom to shelter their kids from any views that conflict with what they want to teach to their children. If we continue to allow this sort of behavior, we will slide down a slippery slope where kids never go to school. Liberal parents can have their kids stay home when their economics teacher gives a lesson on the benefits of supply-side economics. Conservative parents can keep their children away from lectures on welfare.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you cannot protect children from indoctrination. There will always be teachers who use their position to convince their gullible students about their own beliefs. If you are a good parent, you can counter that at home by teaching them your values.

In this case, the parents are alleging that teaching acceptance of homosexual couples infringes on their right to their own religion. Following that logic, anytime a school teaches anything that conflicts with any religion, it is violating someone’s civil rights. Hypothetically, a school that says murder is wrong might get sued because a family believes that killing yourself and innocent civilians is a sure way to heaven.

Tolerance of homosexuality is not a religion in itself, and therefore teaching it is not advocating for one religion, nor is it directly challenging any religion. Montgomery County Public Schools had to change their sexual education curriculum because it made a judgment on religions that were opposed to homosexuality. That is very different from what is happening here. Encouraging your students to accept homosexuality, and to treat children of gay couples with respect is not making a judgment of other religions, but instead advocating for a certain type of conduct among its students.