- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 21, 2005

Students approach the final days of this educational year, but parents increasingly are heading back to school. While many students soon will be thinking of summer jobs, administrators, teachers and parents will not get a break. Controversies involving schools and social issues will keep adults busy for the foreseeable future.

Weekly, it seems, a new situation becomes public where schools are the centers of controversy over what to teach about sexuality and sexual orientation. Here is a sampling:

? Two parent groups in Montgomery County, Md., sued the school board over a proposed health education curriculum partly based on resources provided by homosexual advocates. The curriculum and accompanying material were so biased a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt the changes. The order was recently continued until December.

? One group involved in the Montgomery County lawsuit was recently rejected in its bid to exhibit its literature at the national convention of the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). PFOX is crying foul because a comparable group, the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), was allowed to exhibit last year and is back again this year. The Mississippi chapter of the PTA supports the right of PFOX to be at the convention.

? The Iowa State Board of Education will soon determine if the Pleasant Valley School Board was correct to limit a pro-gay children’s book to the middle school. After a father complained, the school board voted 4-3 to remove “The Misfits” by James Howe from the elementary school as a read-aloud book. Howe said he wrote “The Misfits” with a gay character in order to change beliefs concerning homosexuality.

? In Massachusetts, a father was arrested because he refused to leave his son’s elementary school until the principal agreed to follow Massachusetts parental notification law concerning sexual content in instruction. The father, David Parker, wanted to introduce the subject of homosexuality to his 6-year-old rather than the school do so. School officials declined to notify the father as required by law and provided books to kindergarten students that portrayed homosexual couples alongside heterosexual couples.

? This year’s Southern Baptist Convention meeting will consider a resolution proposing that churches investigate whether the schools in their town promote homosexual advocacy. If schools do and will not listen, parents will be encouraged to find other educational options.

What are we to make of these controversies? The educational establishment, as represented by the National Education Association, would have us believe these parents are closed-minded or even uncaring. When asked about the Southern Baptist resolution, NEA spokeswoman Melinda Anderson huffed: “It really baffles me how a caring parent could find fault with public schools for trying to teach children to be respectful of others.”

What baffles me is how groups like the NEA and PTA can miss the significance of these parental uprisings. In states blue and red, mainstream parents are organizing to express frustration over how homosexuality is taught from kindergarten to high school.

The mantra recited by the educational establishment comes off sounding like a feeble Jedi mind trick — “what we teach about homosexuality is none of your concern; you want safe schools don’t you?” Waving the club of tolerance, the educational establishment denigrates one set of beliefs regarding homosexuality to promote another.

Parents such as those in Montgomery County are offended by the educational establishment’s continued raising of the specter of unsafe schools because of traditional beliefs about homosexuality. The schools produce no evidence.

Mainstream parents are fed up with being told their values and beliefs are intolerant, homophobic and, even worse, responsible for the bullying of children. Ms. Anderson suggests the public schools are trying to teach respect. Well, parents would like a little of that respect.

If the educational establishment does not ensure moral neutrality in instruction, I predict we will see the lawsuit in Montgomery County’s replicated throughout the land. In short, more parents will be coming back to school.


Associate Professor of Psychology,

Grove City (Pa.) College.

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