By: Candi Cushman, Education Analyst, Focus on the Family
Stories about a handful of New England states legalizing same-sex marriage have grabbed headlines as of late. But there’s another corresponding trend that’s flying largely under the nation’s media radar: Public schools are getting bolder about introducing pro-gay curriculum to elementary kids— whether their parents like it or not.
Take, for instance, what’s happening to parents in Alameda, Calif. Despite the fact that the state’s highest court upheld Prop. 8 — a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman — the school board brazenly mandated a curriculum promoting homosexuality and same-sex unions to first- through fifth-graders.
The curriculum redefines the meaning of “family” as “a group of people living together and functioning as a single household” – sounds like the description of a college dorm, doesn’t it? First-graders are introduced to this concept through a storybook called "Who’s in a Family?" featuring images of same-sex couples interspersed with pictures of animals, including an all-male elephant herd depicted as another type of family. Kids in the fourth and fifth grade will learn a new vocabulary word: LGBT—lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Parents who have expressed discomfort with such lessons are being told they can’t opt their kids out of them.
This is problematic for several reasons:
First of all, we should think carefully about the social costs of teaching the next generation that there is nothing distinctive or particularly beneficial about having a mother and a father—and that a human family is no more unique than a herd of elephants in the jungle.
Second, this trend violates the basic and historically cherished right of parents to “direct the upbringing of their children,” a constitutional principle backed by federal courts. Focus on the Family respects the fact that parents have the most intimate knowledge of their children, and therefore, should have the power to decide when, if and how their kids are introduced to controversial, sexual topics. Many parents—even those who aren’t necessarily religious—have expressed concern that their 6-, 7- or 8-year-olds simply aren’t psychologically or emotionally ready to handle these topics.
It’s also undemocratic. An action like that of the Alameda school board—mandating a curriculum for first-graders that conflicts with a law supported by the majority of state voters— represents an arrogant disregard of the will of the people, especially when you consider that 30 states, including California, have constitutional amendments defining marriage as a man and a woman. A recent Gallup poll also revealed that nearly 60 percent of Americans remain opposed to government-sanctioned same-sex marriage.
Gay activists want to act like this is a settled debate, and therefore should be mandated as a permanent part of school curriculum for the youngest grade levels. But that’s just not the case. And let’s not forget that schools across the land are struggling just to get kids to graduate high school and read at basic levels, so it’s irresponsible to allocate valuable resources and classroom time to divisive, adult-driven agendas.
Furthermore, mandating homosexuality promotion in public classrooms infringes on another historically cherished constitutional right—free exercise of religion. Jewish, Muslim and Christian parents are being told they can’t exempt their kids from controversial teaching even if it conflicts with their most deeply held religious convictions. If they can’t afford a private school, that leaves them with nowhere to go. What’s more, many students of faith are finding themselves in situations where their beliefs are censored, even ridiculed, when homosexuality is promoted in their school. (For more information on this, visit www.truetolerance.org)
And if you assume this is just a problem in California, think again. The nation’s largest homosexual-advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, has announced that it is piloting a pro-gay curriculum, “Welcoming Schools,” in several elementary classrooms across the land. It also radically redefines the meaning of marriage and family.
So if we care about maintaining local control of our community schools, protecting parental rights and guarding religious freedoms, then we should be deeply concerned about this trend.