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Parents say school undermines their authority over kids

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Ed makes an excellent point. If the class (I'm talking about grade-schoolers here) had to read a book titled "It's Normal to be Christian" and then the teacher came out and told the class "I've accepted Christ into my heart and it's made my life better... but that's your choice" the country would be up in arms. Why? It crosses a line that violates a parent's right to raise their children.



I'd also like to respond to my own statement:


"Sorry to tell some of you guys, but gays are real, they're here, and they're not going away. [. . .] Your children will be the ones who will either have to accept homosexuals or they will be branded as bigots."


I didn't mean to attack any opposing view with that statement. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I'm just trying to state that in 15-20 years when an elementary school kid starts their working career, it will be in a different world. And with the direction our society is heading, it will be one that is more accepting of homosexuals. Your children don't have to accept gays, but they may face societal disapproval if they voice their disapproval as vociferously as many people do today.




I think the problem with your statement is that for it to be valid, society would need to have had a major push towards the accepting of pedophiles and rapists. Sure, they'll always have their supporters ("It's chemical imbalance in the brain! It's not their fault!") but large portions of society has never endorsed, accepted, or fought for the rights of those people. That's why it's tough to equate gays with pedophiles and rapists in these arguments - even if many believe they inhabit the same rhelm on the moral scale.


So you don't have to worry about your children growing up in a world where pedophiles and rapists must be accepted and interacted with on a daily basis. But gays? It is a possibility.

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Interesting thread. I go camping over the weekend with the troop and miss out on all the sparks!


Anyway, I'd like to reply (again) to the erroneous notion that homosexuality can not have a genetic basis because gays do not reproduce. This is wrong on several counts.


First, homosexual people DO reproduce and in far greater numbers than most people realize. This is what the "closet" was all about. Faced with a choce between a lifetime of disapproval and a loveless marraige, many homosexuals chose (and continue to choose) to marry and reproduce, deeply repressed. Traditionally, women did not even have a choice in this matter. They were forced into marraige, regardless of their feelings.


Second, there is a developing theory among evolutionary biologists that homosexuality among hominids may actually have increased group fitness by providing extra food-getters for the band without increasing the number of mouths that must be fed. Far from being eliminated from the population, such a "gene" would be selected for: the "unmarried" uncle (with two alleles) would provide food for his heterozygous brother and, importantly, his neices and nephews each of whom had a high chance of inheriting the key allele from their heterozygous parent. I've simplified things here, but this theory seems to be powerfully explanatory and, if supported by further research, could help us understand the origins of human homosexuality.

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"If the class (I'm talking about grade-schoolers here) had to read a book titled "It's Normal to be Christian" and then the teacher came out and told the class "I've accepted Christ into my heart and it's made my life better... but that's your choice" the country would be up in arms. Why? It crosses a line that violates a parent's right to raise their children."


Zahnada, it's an interesting analogy, but I see several key differences that may make the analogy flawed.


First, being a Christian is a choice. Being a homosexual isn't. (Unless, of course, you are one of the deniers about this.)


Second, there is the issue of prosletyzing. Christians are commanded to "share the good news" and try to convert those around them. Homosexuals are not (again, unless you believe in the whole "homosexual conspiracy" theory). My concern would be more that this teacher was now going to try to influence my children to *be* Christian. I don't care if he teaches my son to respect Christians, but I don't want him trying to convert my son.


Third, there is also the constitutional angle (a minor point). Now I'm not an expert on constitutional law, my understanding is that religion is not allowed to be promoted by the administration (including the teachers) in public schools because it could be perceived as a step toward establishing a state religion. There is no equivalent constitutional law about sexual orientation, never mind the fact that you can't "establish" homosexuality by requiring people to "practice" it. See the "conversion" point above.


To me, I agree that the teacher coming out was inappropriate only because it seems he did it in a way that was not age appropriate. It is possible to impress on children that age that homosexuality is normal, but it has to be done with concepts that are not so abstract. My 7 year old has been taught this in his home, and has no problem seeing same-sex couples in his environment, and understands what it means that his two godfathers are indeed married. But I agree that the public school (at this age) may not be the place where such an idea can be conveyed in an age appropriate way, especially if the child is getting conflicting messages from the home environment.

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There's always a problem when we mix up scientific facts with moral ideas. Even a complete understanding of the causes of homosexuality will not necessarily answer the question of whether the particular behavior is moral or not. After all, promiscuous sex before marriage is perfectly normal biologically, but we are always telling young people that it's immoral.

Just a note on proselytizing: While I agree that a teacher shouldn't try to convert grade school kids to a particular religious view, I think the complaint here is that a teacher also shouldn't try to convert grade school kids to one side of a controversial moral, ethical, or political issue.

To try an analogy that may be less explosive, imagine a divorced teacher with a classroom that included many Catholic children. While I don't think such a teacher should necessarily have to hide his marital state, he certainly shouldn't teach the children that divorce is morally acceptable...he shouldn't teach them anything about it.

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Yeah, I'll be the first to admit that just about all analogies are flawed. But I would like to debate some of your points.


1. "First, being a Christian is a choice. Being a homosexual isn't."

I have no problem with the second half of that statement. But, many Christians will say they didn't have a choice in the matter. They feel that God spoke to them and has guided their hearts towards Christianity. And believe me, they feel their religion is completely natural (much like a gay man feels his sexuality is completely natural).


2. "Second, there is the issue of prosletyzing." This is actually the reason why I'm against prayer in public school - it makes it too easy for a teacher to force their views upon their students. But remember that many parents feel that the teacher in question was also prosletyzing.


I believe my example was not one of prosletyzing, but rather one of an inappropriate classroom experience. The teacher in my example was not passing out flyers. He was just explaining that he's Christian and it's made his life better. From what I understand, that's exactly the same message the gay teacher was spreading. "It's okay to be gay. It worked well for me." "It's okay to be Christian. It worked well for me." Not all Christians are on a conversion mission.


3. "Third, there is also the constitutional angle (a minor point)." Yeah, I also don't know much about the legalities of this, so I can't argue this exact point. But I will say (and I believe you agree with me) that it's inappropriate to raise such morally controversial issues to a class of 7 year olds. Especially if these teachings are against the wishes of the parents.


It's not so much that I feel the teacher was in the wrong for the message. I feel he was in the wrong for having so blatant a disregard for the parent's right to their children's upbringing.

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"While I agree that a teacher shouldn't try to convert grade school kids to a particular religious view, I think the complaint here is that a teacher also shouldn't try to convert grade school kids to one side of a controversial moral, ethical, or political issue."


Agreed. But that also includes not trying to "convert" to the other viewpoint, that homosexual is "immoral" and "unnatural".


"While I don't think such a teacher should necessarily have to hide his marital state..."


But do you think that the homosexual teacher should have to hide his orientation, or is it sufficient that he doesn't "teach about it" (whatever that means)?


Zahnada, you bring up some interesting points, as well. I have never encountered the "Christianity is not a choice" argument before, and I'm not sure I agree with it. To get back to the previous point of debate, homosexuality is a biologically defined state. Religion isn't. A much higher percentage of people change their religion that can even claim to change their sexual orientation (assuming you believe such a thing is possible at all).


Also, I think there is a difference between "prosletyzing" *acceptance* of either homosexuality or Christianity as "normal" and prosletyzing to convince someone to *practice* homosexuality (which can't be done) or Christianity (which, according to my understanding, *is* a commandment from God to all Christians).


But as you say, we do in essence agree on the overall issue, but simply disagree about the semantics of "why".

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Yes, schools do undermine the authority of parents and other adults. How do they do this? By teaching them not to talk to strangers. Kids today do not respect adults like they did in the past but that is a whole other story.


My sons and daughter grew up in a two parent, dad works, mom doesn't, middle class, white, suburban home. Their religious upbringing was in the Catholic Church. Some comments my daughter made to me while in church point out how being raised in "isolation" can color one's views. She admonished me for not kneeling during mass one day (I'm not Catholic). I simply stated to her that I don't do that. She accepted that. One day I was talking to her about a girl in her class who is a Buddhist and her parents are from China (her older brother is in our troop). "Oh yeah, Catherine", she stated, "She's really smart. I think it is part of her religion." I quietly laughed to myself and tried to explain the difference between religion and ethnicity/cultural values. I don't think it "took."


Anyway, I want my children to be exposed to the fact that there is AIDS in the world, homosexuals, single parent families, divorce, etc. Yes, it can be a minefield but these facts should be introduced to children in an age appropriate manner. In my book, reading a story which shows that a child may have two mommies is fine for an eight year old to read but having the teacher acknowledge that she too is a lesbian is inappropriate. Children should be exposed to the fact that not all people live like them these ideas should be presented to them in as neutral a manner as possible.


As an aside, the phone rang last week and I answered it simultaneously as my 14 year old son. One of his classmates called and was upset with my son about not going to a fast food restaurant with him after football practice and kept calling actions he did not like as "gay" and calling my son a "fag." These words were not used in any real sexual connotation but just as standard perjorative adjectives. Well, I waited a day and sat down with my son and stated my disapproval about using these words in that manner. Granted, my son was only on the receiving end but peer pressure being what it is, I didn't want him to pick up these bad habits.


Well, enought ranting.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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Is Christianity (or any faith) a "choice"? Ahhh - that gets to the core of what we mean by "culture".


From an etic (outsiders) perspective, culture is indeed a choice. One does not have a genetic predisposition to be either Turkish or Greek. Culture is all learned behavior and we can choose to wear either a fez or a fustanella.


However, from an emic (insiders) perspective, one does not have a choice because you were born into one or the other culture and once the die is cast you can not change. A Turk can not choose to become Greek.


So I can fully understand if a Christian (or a person of any other religion) said they were born that way and had no choice in the matter. Personally, I realized that I had a choice whether or not to remain Christian, but others may not see it that way.

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Prejudice is taught from birth by parents and friends in the most unusual places and for all types of reasons. Children generally accept authority and are not given a chance to do otherwise. Trying to establish if prejudice is environmental or genetic is unnecessary but kids/people show prejudiced thinking most of their lives in spite of reason.


Prejudice is way to exclude others and to make room for ones own kind. I suppose scientists should show that prejudiced thinking is a natural way to gain an advantage for the group in gathering food as well as establishing homosexuality as being a natural way. Prejudice is also a natural way to bring about conflict. Check out the history of religion and correlate it to war, it is a natural; it may even be genetic. Eliminate the enemy, take their resources and make room for your own, which is the way of the world.


It makes sense to me to teach people to get along no matter if they divorce, marry, are homosexual or heterosexual or if they are religious or desire nothing. When I survey the results of prejudice thinking, it seems natural that we would want to get along with each other instead of fighting. We now have some sizable weapons to use on each other. I think it is time to learn restraint and patience and tolerance and loving kindness for our fellowman but then it may be just me or maybe it is the cold weather coming on. fb


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Fuzzy, forgive me if I repeat myself all over again, again, but I am in the Department of Redundancy Department. :)


I was raised in the South, during the years in which I saw first hand the growth and struggle of the civil rights movement. I was taught racial prejudice in every corner of my world. But it was taught more systematically and authoritatively to me in my church than any other place. Somehow, I was able to see the deceptions and eventually reject them. Same for other issues in which prejudice is a large component. Prejudice is easy. Prejudice gives us a false sense of worth, pride, arrogance, and accomplishment. One reason I embrace science so strongly is that science is open to absolutely anyone regardless of faith or ethnicity. People are not attacked in science. Rather, ideas are attacked and those that survive are tentatively accepted. Science is an activity that brings people together to develop better ideas. This seems to be anathema to religion and I think this may be one reason that some people of faith have such a difficult time with science...their faith allows them to be so comfortable with their prejudices.

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"People are not attacked in science. Rather, ideas are attacked and those that survive are tentatively accepted. Science is an activity that brings people together to develop better ideas."


Oh, really!?!?

"Grist Magazines staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the bastards who were members of what he termed the global warming denial industry.


Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg.


Hmmmmm? Threatening Nuremberg-style trials for those that don't agree on the science? That is how they "bring people together"?


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tsk,tsk! ;)


Surely you know that stuff's not science. That is merely journalism, and yellow journalism at that. All scientists have emotions (it goes with being human) and sometimes mud is thrown. But the scientific method itself is without emotion, without mud.


Science advances our knowledge awkwardly, in fits and starts. Sometime in the wrong direction. But it is a self correcting system, by definition.


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Trevorum, you stole my thunder. Grist magazine is hardly a scientific source, any more than the Wall Street Journal. It might be entertaining to read that drivel but it is not enlightening. David Roberts has no scientific credentials whatsoever. And thankfully so, I might add, because statements like that should never be allowed to masquerade as scientific. Try to find a statement like that in Science or Nature. Or in Environmental Science and Technology, etc., etc. You won't. As Trevorum notes, it isn't science...by definition.

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Well, excuse me for taking his quote to include scientific debate. The scientific debate about global warming is getting pretty ugly, with plenty of attacks, or "criticisms" as they would call them.


Just read the following article - scientists are attacking/criticizing each other regularly. And this is regarding articles and opinions published in Nature, Science, and Geophysical Research Letters.


Scientists Disagree On Link Between Storms, Warming



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Brent, I think the essential line in the article is, "Academics have published a flurry of papers either supporting or debunking the idea...."

The IDEA! Now don't get me wrong, personalities and egos are strong in scientists just like other people. And some of them take criticisms personally and react badly. But bad behavior doesn't detract from the basic process of science in which personality, ultimately, is irrelevant. BTW, on the global climate change topic, we're loving the debate. It is a vital issue for the entire world with big stakes on who will eventually get the credit or blame and competition is incredible. However, the basic currency of each exchange remains objective information and analyses of various kinds. And the ultimate goal of rejecting incorrect ideas remains the same.

Also, BTW, Al Gore is not a scientist, in case I needed to say that. Most politicians are not scientists. Lawyers HATE to put scientists on the witness stand for a variety of good reasons. My view on these sorts of exclusions is that science at its base, attempts to identify and then correct deceptions, making it not exactly compatible with politics and some aspects of our legal system. Also a clue to the rub with some religious persons.

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