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Geoghegan: Schools Don’t Honor All Family Values – Chalkboard Review

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Public schools in America serve a diverse population of students who come from various backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and customs. Some of the students belong to families with strict religious beliefs that involve dietary restrictions. Whether it is avoiding meat, dairy, beef, or pork, a school would never intentionally usurp the desires and beliefs of the family and force students to eat or drink any of the prohibited items. A teacher would never introduce a restricted food simply because she thought it was a better way to live.

This seems reasonable and respectful. If this is true, and generally considered good when it comes to dietary restrictions, why is it so unreasonable and controversial when it comes to what students are exposed to in regards to sex education, gender theory, and sexually explicit material?

Just as some families adhere to strict religious guidelines according a specific set of beliefs relating to diet, there are families who teach and expect their children to adhere to certain ethics and beliefs about sex according to their religious or ethnic customs. If public schools would not think it was appropriate (or legal) to force prohibited food and drink on students, why do they think it is appropriate to force sexual content in the curriculum that does that very thing?

Many public schools across the country have adopted a Comprehensive Sex Education curriculum designed by Planned Parenthood. Even before we address how the organization itself is often in direct opposition to what many faith groups believe, it’s worth noting that the agenda they are promoting and material they distribute in schools alone encroach on parental rights to decide if, when, and how certain topics should be introduced and discussed with their children.

In addition to Planned Parenthood, there are a plethora of other organizations who have developed curriculum specifically designed to teach sex and sexuality from one perspective. Combine those materials with the wide range of Social Emotional Programs (SEL) that are currently flooding the market, and it is clear that the “menu” is endless but not necessarily inclusive to families who have a more conservative view of such topics. 

Students as young as elementary school are being exposed to ideas such as the “Gender Unicorn” which teachers use to explain progressive views of gender identity and expression. How does this respect the students whose families believe that there are only two genders and they are not fluid? In addition, middle and high school students are frequently asked their pronouns by teachers in class. Not only does this teeter on compelled speech, but it introduces a topic that may not align with every family’s values. 

Be it a family’s dietary guidelines or their beliefs about sexuality, it is vital that parents, not the government, are the primary custodian and authority of their children. Just because a school or school employee disagrees with those beliefs does not give them the right to intervene and usurp their authority. It is time for schools to honor the role of parents and get back to the role of educating, not indoctrinating students.