Most parents have an agenda when it comes to their kids, and so they should. We are the ones with the biggest stake in how they turn out. But we’re not the only ones with an agenda, especially when it comes to what we teach our kids about sexuality. The homosexual lobby has one, and it revolves around achieving approval in the wider community for their lifestyle. Almost all the major religious groups in Canada have the opposite agenda—namely, preserving marriage as one woman, one man. When agendas don’t match, whose takes precedence in the schools?
In light of recent events at Pinecrest School when an anti-bullying assembly included homosexual speakers and directed children to homosexual websites, increasingly it is not the parents’. Most parents do wholeheartedly embrace the goals of the anti-bullying campaigns that are now widespread across the province. What we don’t want is for our fundamental values to be undermined. To argue that one must accept all individuals and treat them with respect, for instance, is one thing; to argue that one must approve of all homosexual behaviour is to implicitly argue that one must disapprove of most traditional beliefs, thus picking one agenda over another.
I find this highly troubling, not least because it is so very unnecessary. All of us do share important common ground, after all. We believe that calling people names is wrong. Surely we can teach that without stepping on anyone’s toes. In the Pinecrest episode, though, the speakers decided to be specific and explicit, providing signs that read, "this is a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans people". I’m not sure what a 12-year-old is supposed to make of that, but I don’t see why they couldn’t have just declared, "this is a safe place where we don’t insult or tease people." That gives the same message, but it’s easier for kids to understand and doesn’t get into topics that most parents feel are inappropriate for the middle grades.
But as a practical matter, too, the whole strategy is strange. The assumption is that kids need to be taught not only to refrain from insults, but also what insults to refrain from. Does this mean we must teach them specifically not to insult other races, or other classes, or those who are ugly, or wear glasses, or who are learning disabled, or physically disabled if we hope to avoid bullying? That if we leave any group out we’re throwing them to the wolves? If kids can’t be taught that calling names—no matter what the name—is wrong, then we’ve lost already. We’ve created values that are situation-specific, and that’s scary.
There’s another aspect to the way homosexuality is approached in anti-bullying campaigns, and this one, I think, is far more dangerous. Increasingly"questioning" youth are lumped together in the homosexual category. The information disseminated at Pinecrest by the homosexual speakers invited questioning kids to join their youth group, and pointed to websites where questioning youth can receive advice from those who are now comfortable with their homosexual orientation. The elementary teachers’ union also provides contact information for similar groups across Ontario for teachers to use as resources or speakers in the classroom. Educators are being encouraged to point questioning youth to the homosexual community.
But is this warranted? A study of almost 35,000 Minnesota youth by Gary Remafedi, published in the April 1992 edition of the journal Pediatrics, found that 25.9% of 12-year-olds were unsure of their sexual orientation. Hormones are flying, their bodies are changing, and in many cases homes may be chaotic. By age 17, though, only 5% were unsure. Since only 2-3% of adults self-identify as homosexual, over one fifth of teens could be erroneously pushed in that direction. Equating "questioning" with homosexuality, then, is intellectually dishonest, and this kind of activism directed at children is simply inappropriate.
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