Progressive educators are launching new offensives in the nation’s culture wars.
Washington State, for example, has put a sex-education curriculum, developed in part by Planned Parenthood, on its approved list, which has caused controversy in places like Spokane. Nevada’s Washoe County School District is currently debatinga sex education curriculum that would introduce topics like anal and oral sex starting in 6th grade. In San Diego, the city’s school district adopted a graphic sex-education curriculum, which elicited a 2000-signature petition by parents opposed to the new materials.
The trend underscores the need for school choice policies. If teachers and curricula developers want to impose certain values on students, parents who disagree with those values should be free to educate their children elsewhere.
Public schools no longer teach merely the basic “birds and the bees” of sex. Now, they introduce extremely explicit and controversial topics to even young students – without, in many cases, seeking input from those students’ parents. In 2014, California’s Fremont school district, with the unanimous support of the district’s health teachers, adopted a college-level health education textbook for use by its ninth-grade students, which discussed sex toys and extreme sexual practices.
Even in the liberal San Francisco Bay Area where Fremont is located, parents were incensed by the decision. As Fremont parent Asfia Ahmed told the New York Daily News, “The main problem is that this book treats the kids as adults and the content is adult.” Many parents complained that the textbook failed to reflect their family and cultural values.
The district ultimately abandoned the textbook, but only after a grassroots revolt of district parents who circulated petitions and packed school board meetings.
In 2017, parents in other Bay Area towns such as Palo Alto, home of Stanford University, and Cupertino, home of Apple, have expressed similar concerns over inappropriate content. Dozens of Palo Alto parents have complained that the sex-education materials were “insensitive to the family values of certain cultures and exposed vulnerable youths to risky behaviors.”
Like the Fremont parents, the Palo Alto parents started a petition to have the curriculum reviewed. They wrote: “The new curriculum clearly was designed for 14-18 years as it says in the introduction (page V), but the publisher adopted it for 12 years old without appropriate revision.” Further, “the characters in the scenarios are also all 14-18 years old. Much of the contents increase curiosity on different sexual behaviors in immature minds.”
Palo Alto’s school board ignored parents’ objections. One school board member even said, “The curriculum review process is not for listening to the community.”
Transgender policies are yet another example of public schools imposing certain ideologies on students, despite objections from families who affirm traditional values.
In Pennsylvania, four male Boyertown High School students sued the school district in federal court over the district’s policy that allowed biological females who identify as transgendered to undress in the boys locker room. A federal judge ruled against the male students in August, but the students are appealing that decision.
Public school administrators and state curricula developers are growing increasingly intolerant of traditional values held by many parents and their children. Discussing her state’s approved sex-education curricula, Washington state education official Laurie Dils acknowledged that the system is rigged: “People were suggesting that an abstinence-based program would be more in line with the community values. Well, an abstinence-based curriculum is not really legal anymore.” In the face of such government disregard for the public and its values, it’s important to create alternative education options for families who hold such values.
An increasing number of states are implementing programs such as education savings accounts, tuition tax credits and vouchers that allow parents to choose non-public schooling options for their children. These programs need to be expanded in the states that have them and initiated in those that don’t so that all parents and their children can access education alternatives that meet their needs and preferences.
No child should be forced to go to an indoctrination center masquerading as a public school. School choice policies could ensure that “back to school” season no longer entails an assault on the values of millions of impressionable children.