Oregon Pastor Gary Randall is up in arms about New York City’s new sex ed curriculum. “We want to help kids to delay the onset of sexual activity, and if they choose to engage in sexual activity, to do it in a healthy way,” says NYC’s Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs.
Uh oh, she used the word “choose”, as if children have any right to think for themselves. Then she used the word “sex” as if it wasn’t dirty. Double whammy, so you know the radical-right Christians are going to come out of the woodwork on this, even those living clear across the country like Randall (who perhaps is hoping to deflect attention from the fact that he undermined NOM’s Doe v. Reed lawsuit that he purported to support?).
As I see it, Randall’s argument can be boiled down to this: Children’s minds must be under parental control at all times. When schools help children make informed decisions about s-e-x, they undermine our parental authority to treat our children as belief slaves.
“How very debased, morally bankrupt and the degree of insensitivity toward parents existing in public ed today. …This is not only a moral assault on kids, but an assault on parental rights as well,” wrote Randall. Seems pretty clear the man’s got control issues when it comes to kids.
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To be fair though, it isn’t only about parental control in Randall’s world. It’s apparently also about a belief that sex is somehow “perverted”:
NBC News reported yesterday that, “In August, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs commended the return of mandatory sex-ed, saying the DOE wants to give students the correct information about sexual activity if they choose to engage in it.”
If they choose…? They are being led into perversion by indoctrination, while parental rights are marginalized.
“Perversion”? This is a curious way for a man who has several children and grandchildren to characterize sex. Are we to conclude from this that Pastor Randall believes he is a pervert?
Randall goes on to quote professor Robert P. George, who writes, “Beyond rival moral visions, the new policy raises a deeper issue: Should the government force parents—at least those not rich enough to afford private schooling—to send their children to classes that may contradict their moral and religious values on matters of intimacy and personal conduct.”
What both men seem to miss is that children aren’t balls of formless clay that can be fully formed in the image their parents choose. Each child is their own person, with their own identity, personality and approach to life. What they need from parents isn’t a comprehensive blueprint chiseled in stone, but loving and thoughtful guidance.
Dr. George asks how would you feel if, in a lesson, your child is “encouraged to disregard what you told him about sex, and to rely instead on teachers and health clinic staff members?”
George believes parental rights must provide a zone of sovereignty, a moral space to teach our children according to our conscience. We brought these kids into this world and we, not the state, are responsible to teach and educate them.
New flash: No child can be completely screened from “rival moral visions” that conflict with parents’ viewpoints. This is why parents must learn to communicate with their children, not simply pontificate. But an honest two-way conversation with a child is anathema to the notion of the sort of “sovereignty” the Randall and George types apparently need to lord over their children, and therefore is unlikely to be considered.
Is it any wonder that children with authoritarian fathers usually turn to their mothers to create a true parent-child relationship?
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave to me was their trust. Sad to see others afraid to trust their children with the tools to think independently and make wise decisions.