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February 8, 2005

Regarding Sex Ed.

Look, I'm neither a prude nor (regardless of what some readers might think) an extreme moralist. I do believe that schools should ensure that children have a base-level knowledge of what is happening to their bodies, and when they transform into teens, they ought to learn about diseases and the biology of childbirth. Just as science classes ought to teach what scientists believe to be facts, just as history classes ought to teach what historians believe to be facts, the mechanics of the body are important for children to know, whether we're talking pimples or penises. The sex ed. establishment goes much further than that, however.

Once teachers make the shift from sex to sexuality, they're crossing into an area that inherently requires a choice of worldviews. Translated out of secularese, that means a choice of religions. As someone who believes that the "separation of church and state" has gone way too far, both in its strictness and in its pervasiveness across various levels of government, I don't have a problem with school districts' making that choice in some degree. The problem is that the current legal approach allows communities only one "choice" — which is to say no choice at all.

In my ideal American system (incidentally the one that I believe the founders of the United States intended to create), districts would retain the authority to make school curricula conform with the values of the communities that they serve. There would still be limits, no doubt, but they would be well beyond the self-determination currently allowed, which is superficial. Regarding sex ed., some districts might maintain their programs as they are. Others might declare anything beyond a cold biology lesson beyond the boundary. Others might offer complementary sex ed. and morality classes. Still others might offer parents a choice of teachers, say an overt Christian and a secularist. And others might recast their vision of "healthy sexuality" to adhere to local mores.

In such a system, parents could become involved, working for change if they so choose. If a family's bottom line requirements couldn't be met, then that family could seek alternatives. (School vouchers would be especially appropriate in such a society, and parents' choices could be more detailed than between a public school and a sectarian school.)

With our current all-or-nothing approach — beloved of liberals because they've currently gotten pretty close to the "all" — the fight is unnecessarily divisive and inclined toward tectonic shifts. Social liberals don't seem to believe that this is possible, but make no mistake: a relatively minor change in the public mood could result in strict moralism's being taught to all students, with liberal parents being offered the non-choice of singling out their children through moral exemption.

It would be better for America to actually believe in the pluralism and diversity that so many Americans preach as gospel truth.

Posted by Justin Katz at February 8, 2005 5:54 PM

Ultimately, your idea is a good one. But shouldn't education be based on expertise, not appeasing parents.

If it becomes popular to believe among certain churches that chickens lay rock, should a school have to teach the rock theory just because the local churches have adopted that thinking, despite all eviendce to the contrary?

The same could be said for saying the earth is flat. Just because people believe it is true, isn't it the school's obligation to prove that despite the misguided collective wisdom, the earth is actually round.

Education needs to be based on what is effective and what is well-founded. If people are to break out of their norms and shape their own values--not the misguided values of the "community"--it is education's rule to do it. It isn't to perpetuate the quaint notion the world is flat.

Posted by: Dan at February 8, 2005 8:55 PM


Well, there's a balance to be struck, of course. There are areas, however, in which it would be (and it is) disingenuous to claim that something is "well-founded" outside of what is essentially a religious worldview. "Healthy sexuality" is precisely such an area; even if it were proven that people were more comfortable in life taking a modern liberal view of sexual behavior (and I would require more than a little convincing that that's the case), it would be wrong for a school district to discard outright the belief that we must stand up to our own desires for the benefit of our eternal souls. Doing so is clearly establishing a religious tenet.

In some areas, I do believe that national standards would be important, whether originating with the government or through societal consensus. Just as an example: a standardized test to actually receive an "official" (nationally recognized) high school diploma would lead schools to teach certain basics, even if community standards treated them as little more than abstractions.

But I'm talking general principles, here. Just as I'm increasingly convinced that it's a mistake to usher as many kids as possible into college immediately after high school, I'm not sure about the degree to which the public interest in an educated citizenry requires the squelching of "quaint notions."

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 8, 2005 9:16 PM

If I may enter the fray,

It is not about educating our kids about 'sex ed' to teenagers that educators really care about. It is first and foremost about indoctrination to the liberal ideology with the goal of normalizing homosexual lifestyles as early as possible. And to do it they hide behing nice words like 'multiculturalism' or 'diversity'.

I have posted at length how they hide behind these nice words to blind unsuspecting parents to their true intentions. Please check out my very own personal story where my almost 5 year old came very close to having this 'normalization' introduced to him via educators paid with federal/state tax money. As you read my post, remember that the word "Christmas" has been pretty much outlawed in public schools, but yet these ideas are encouraged against the wishes of parents.

Link to the post:

Posted by: KelliPundit at February 9, 2005 12:02 AM

Kelli, whether she intended to or not, actually makes the strongest argument against the "community standards" approach you advocated.

In this case, the community standards were for multiculturalism and tolerance. Those standards, however, did not correspond to Kelli's views. So what is Kelli supposed to do when her views are outside the mainstream of the community standards? Does she just live with it? Does she opt out? Is she forced to modify her views because they aren't consistent with the community standards?

To reverse the scenario, what happens to the parent who has the misfurtune of sending their child to a school which wants to teach that gays can be converted to heterosexuality and that two men living together is bad. If a parent doesn't agree with his, why should they have to tolerate such teaching just because it is the "community standard."

Your approach to sex ed creates a "mob rule' approach, ignoring research and expertise.

Posted by: Dan at February 9, 2005 9:27 AM

The point is that we essentially have "mob rule" right now, although the key members of the "mob" are a well-connected and vocal minority. Communities wouldn't have to change at all.

The more direct point is that it's a form of oppressive fanaticism to insist that one's values must apply to everybody in the entire country. Parents of all worldviews will be better able to place their children where the education will match the family's values. Right now all parents except those in a narrow range of values simply have "to tolerate such teaching just because it is the 'community standard.'"

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 9, 2005 10:27 AM

How about this: Let's not teach 5 year olds about any kind of sex! That is what I'm advocating.

Now for kids at the appropriate age, for argument sake, let's say 13, let's just teach w/ federal/state tax monies about how babies are made. Period. Why should it go any further than that? Just the facts. No one is going to please everyone, but that would satisfy most level headed folks, IMHO.

Hey Justin, I teach for URI. I picked up the student newspaper one time at lunch for something to read. I got sick to my stomach from that one experience and was never curious again as to what students were thinking/writing in that paper. Yuck!

Posted by: KelliPundit at February 9, 2005 4:05 PM

Do you need to talk about sex to say that people can have two moms and two dad? You don't have to discuss reproduction to explain to a kid that people have a mom and a dad, so why would you need to discuss sex to discuss two moms and two dad?

Posted by: Dan at February 9, 2005 4:16 PM

If a parent doesn't agree with his, why should they have to tolerate such teaching just because it is the "community standard."

Gee, because of, well TOLERANCE perhaps??? Or is that a one-way street too?

Do you need to talk about sex to say that people can have two moms and two dad?

But they can't. Not really... they can pretend, but no, they really can't.

Posted by: Marty at February 9, 2005 5:42 PM


How can you talk to me about "Tolerance" when I go to a "Holiday Concert" at my child's elementary school and not one time is the word Christmas uttered in the music? Plenty of Hanukah's and Ramadans, and please don't leave out the fake holiday of Kwanza. How many Merry Christmas'? ZERO

So, put that in your pipe and smoke it. And the last time I saw a poll about gay marriage, I believe in overwhelming numbers this country is against this move.

And with a resouding YES, you can explain how babies are conceived without talking about 2 moms or 2 dads. Actually, biology dictates it. If kids from that family make-up don't understand, then those parents should explain it to them. The rest of us should not have to expose our children to those facts of life before they are ready.

Posted by: KelliPundit at February 9, 2005 5:53 PM

You missed my point, Kelli. You can talk to 5-year olds about two moms and two dads, or one mom and one dad, without bringing up sex. So why, then, so the subject of same-sex parents be off-limits with a five-year old?

Posted by: Dan at February 9, 2005 5:59 PM

Kelli, sorry you misunderstood -- i was agreeing with you. Members of tiny minorities have a duty to tolerate the standards of the overwhelming majority -- even moreso when "tolerance" is the mantra of said tiny minority.

Dan, you can lie to your kids, or dance around the truth. But they aren't stupid.

Posted by: Marty at February 9, 2005 6:06 PM

Marty, you need to re-read Kelli's complaint. She's mad because the local school won't accommodate her conservative beliefs and intolerance of gays. They have values--likely held by the strong majority of those in her New England town--and she feels that they should accommodate her minority views.

Posted by: Dan at February 9, 2005 6:21 PM


Actually, I think you need to reread Kelli. She's mad that the Christmas Concert has been buried under political correctness. And for the record, the majority of New England citizens are still comfortable with the word "Christmas," and even in New England it can't be stated as given that a majority is onboard for a gay agenda in schools.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 9, 2005 6:47 PM

I'm sorry, but you've misunderstood my complaint.
She's mad because the local school won't accommodate her conservative beliefs and intolerance of gays.
I don't think that it is appropriate for ANY type of sex to be taught to 5 year olds. I have fought very hard since my children were born to keep sex or inappropriate messages from their ears and eyes. We do not sit around watching R or PG-13 rated movies in front of the children. My kids are not even aware of heterosexual relations.

I am not intolerant to gays. I wish them no harm and would never advocate violence towards any group. However, I do not want that lifestyle 'normalized' to my child. My suggestion is not to talk about either! Maybe if educators focused on numbers, letters and writing all of our kids would be farther along the bell curve. I don't see a place in the classroom for ANY of it, especially at the age of 5.

You can be against gay marriage, and not harbor hatred towards people. Furthermore, what happened with me and the Charter School was maddening because they were hiding their agenda behind the word 'mulitculturalism'. How many unsuspecting parents have figured it out the hard way this year?

This past election proves that my views on gay marriage are far, far away from the minority. If someone has some numbers to contest that, I'm willing to click on the link.

Posted by: KelliPundit at February 9, 2005 6:54 PM

Saying it's okay to have two moms and two dad is not talking about sex. All the school wanted to do was say having same-sex parents was okay, yet you found that unacceptable.

As Justin proffered in his iniital point, maybe communities should be able to have their values reflected in how kids are taught. In your instance, you live in a community that believes that normalizing gay relationships is important. You disagree, but your views are not in the majority.

You are free to move to Alabama or Utah or Texas or even my state, Virginia, where your values are more dominant. But when you live in New England, maybe it is unrealistic--and perhaps unfair--for you to expect your more values to be reflected in your schools, since they are so far outside the community mainstream.

Posted by: Dan at February 9, 2005 10:39 PM

I'm glad to hear that you recognize that New England has some moral problems that are considered outside the mainstream. However, I disagree still with the sentiment that I am in the minority. I have never seen any evidence of this. The folks living within 5 blocks of Brown University does not make a majority. Not to mention that most of those folks could even be considered transients. RI is one of the most unionized states in the union, and when those folks vote blue, they are not necessarily voting for gay marriage.

It is hard to take this disagreement much further without just outright saying exactly what I would tell my kids when the same sex parent situation arises to their attention. So, I hope not to bore anyone, but here goes:

Kid: Mommy, why does Susie have 2 mommies?
Mommy: Well sweetie, there are people who like to be together even though they are the same. Mommy and Daddy don't believe that that is right because God teaches us in the bible that he does not like that. But that is between God and them, so we love everyone and their family is just different from ours, but they love each other as much as we love you.

So there you go. No way a teacher is going to explain the situation in the terms I would like. I feel that I can accomplish the goal of not normalizing the relationship, but yet advocating love and non-judgement. And again, I suggest that the schools just don't go there!

See, we red-staters aren't so bad. And don't you worry, in 4.5 months I will be vacating the state of RI and head to a very nice, bright red state for the duration of my life.

Posted by: KelliPundit at February 9, 2005 11:46 PM