The recent reaction by some parents to the introduction of the new Health and Physical Education Curriculum is distressing, and oftentimes infuriating. I am not opposed to people making choices about what is best for their child; I’ve done it myself.
I believe in public education strongly and I believe in the right to advocate for your child. I do not believe they should be mutually exclusive.
Sending around flyers stating that teachers will be teaching children how to masturbate, engage in anal sex and facilitate them looking at pornography is not only categorically untrue and insulting to the professionals who teach your children, it is not advocacy. That is lying and therefore teaching your children that you need to spread lies when your argument is weak.
Stopping people at a bus stop and discouraging them from sending their child to school to protest something on your behalf is not advocating for your child. This tells your child that you need to harass and bully when you disagree with a system change.
When you carry signs that say “What’s next? Safe animal sex?” you are not advocating for your child. You are spreading hate. You are teaching your children that exaggerating and perpetuating stereotypes is acceptable when you disagree with the government.
The amount of misinformation being sent around the internet, mailboxes and school parking lots is astounding.
I ask parents to read the curriculum. Every word. Then decide if it goes against YOUR beliefs. If the knowledge is not beneficial to your child, who will be out in the world with the internet and cell phones and parties and peer pressure without you, then you are well within your rights to withdraw your children from the public system. I do not think this will protect them. Instead, the more caring and dedicated people who are in our children’s lives the better. People committed to helping them understand and navigate the challenges of social and personal interactions, well, that’s a good thing.
Parents are the head of households, but school is the place where other ways of thinking are learned and shared and discussed. No one is trying to change your family values; the point is to ensure that the values of personal safety and inclusion and diversity are understood and respected. There is a universality to that. Just as you expect people to respect your way of life and beliefs, even if it is different from their own, this curriculum is intended to help children respect other ways of being. It is filled with ways to keep them safe from unwanted attention and harm.
Don’t insult the intelligence of educators, or your children. No one is trying to corrupt children. This new curriculum has more in common with the sex education they have been receiving since 1998 than people seem to appreciate. Yes, children are learning certain aspects at a younger age; this reflects what is happening in society as a whole.
If you, as an individual, have an issue, work with your school. Be a partner in the learning process. Be a true advocate.