May 4, 2006

Should schools do more to accommodate parents with traditional values?

This is an interesting subject (raised by a lawsuit that seems destined to fail):
At the center of a federal lawsuit filed last week by two sets of Lexington parents over the discussion of homosexuality in public elementary schools is the question: Do parents or public schools have the final say in deciding what morals, values, and principles should be taught to children, and at what age should those lessons take place?...

[Joseph Robert and Robin Wirthlin] objected on April 6 after their son's second-grade teacher at the Joseph Estabrook Elementary School read to the class "King & King," a fairy tale that depicts two princes falling in love and marrying. A year earlier, David Parker, whose son was then in kindergarten at the same school, was arrested for trespassing when he refused to leave school grounds until administrators promised to excuse his son from classroom discussions about same-gender parents. Parker's son had brought home a ''diversity book bag" that included "Who's in a Family?" a book that shows pictures of same-sex parents and other types of families.
The more serious question is not the legal one, but a matter of policy: Should schools do more to accommodate parents with traditional values?

ADDED: I should note that the parents are not merely relying on constitutional rights, but on a Massachusetts statute that requires schools to notify parents about sex education lessons. Parents can have their children excluded. So there is a question about the scope of that state statute, which they are asking a federal court to interpret. Is teaching about family structure sex education? Is "Cinderella" sex education? If not, why is "King & King"? But the point of the lawsuit seems really to be to put pressure on the state legislature to expand the statutory law and clamp down on schools that are trying to present homosexuality in a positive light. That is an extremely important political dispute.

MORE: Here's the School Library Journal review of "King & King":
Grades 3-5--In this postmodern fractured fairy tale, a worn-out and badly beleaguered Queen is ready for retirement. After many hours of nagging, the crown prince, who "never cared much for princesses," finally caves in and agrees to wed in order to ascend the throne. Their search for a suitable bride extends far and wide, but none of the eligible princesses strikes the Prince's fancy, until Princess Madeleine shows up. The Prince is immediately smitten - with her brother, Prince Lee. The wedding is "very special," the Queen settles down on a chaise lounge in the sun, and everyone lives happily ever after. Originally published in the Netherlands, this is a commendable fledgling effort with good intentions toward its subject matter. Unfortunately, though, the book is hobbled by thin characterization and ugly artwork; the homosexual prince comes across as fragile and languid, while the dour, matronly queen is a dead ringer for England's Victoria at her aesthetic worst. Some of the details in the artwork are interesting, including the "crown kitty" performing antics in the periphery. However, that isn't enough to compensate for page after page of cluttered, disjointed, ill-conceived art. The book does present same-sex marriage as a viable, acceptable way of life within an immediately recognizable narrative form, the fairy tale. However, those looking for picture books about alternative lifestyles may want to keep looking for a barrier-breaking classic on the subject.
AND: Here's a somewhat more detailed article about the lawsuit, quoting the complaint, which claims "due process rights under the fifth and fourteenth amendments, as parents and guardians to direct the moral upbringing of their children." This is a very lightweight federal claim to hold the state claims in federal court. The state court ought to be interpreting that state statute, and the federal court should use its discretion to decline jurisdiction.

218 comments:

1 – 200 of 218   Newer›   Newest»
Ross said...

Yeesh, I'm in favor of gay marriage, but I don't know why second-graders should be propagandized. "King and King" . . . for the love.

All time favorite verification word: fustxt.

faster said...

I'm generally in favor of schools operating independently of parents values (within limits). If I had been forced to stay within the boundaries of my parents worldview I wouldn't be the person I am today. I suspect most people feel the same way.

Having said that, it's likely that the "King & King" crossed the line. But is it possible the tale was just some sort of innocent farce, rather than an attempt at indoctrination?

Finn Kristiansen said...

This is precisely the type of stuff that conservative Christian parents fear.

But, if society is set to say that there is nothing immoral about gay relationships, then how can it be argued that reading such books to kids is inappropriate? There is no logical underpinning for that argument once society has made up it's mind in terms of societal norms and legal standing (both still rapidly evolving).

So ultimately those with strongly held moral beliefs will gravitate toward placing their children in private, Christian, Orthodox, Islamic, and Catholic schools. Or just home school. But that trend is already underway.

Should schools do more to accommodate traditional parents? Well to the extent that they can utilize a host of existing and new material that is non-controversial, they should.

The Drill SGT said...

It seems to me that there is a clear legal question.

In 1996, just a few months after a federal judge shot down the Chelmsford case, the Legislature passed the parental notification law, which requires school districts to notify parents about sex education lessons so they can pull their children out if they want. Camenker and the Lexington parents argue that the notification law should apply to discussions about same-gender parents and gay marriage, contending the talks encompass sexuality issues and not just family structures, as Lexington school officials assert.


I also read somewhere that the local public library, or perhaps school library categorized the book under "sex education" rather than "parenting skills". I think the parents have a reasonable case that the school is disregarding the state law.

vnjagvet said...

King and King. Fairy tale for sure. Sounds more like fairy indoctrination.

What is the value of introduction to "alternative lifestyles" at this age?

I thought first and second grade is where one learns to read, write, add and subtract. Basic tools for learning.

Isn't there something as "too much information" at age 6 or 7?

Whaever happened to "age appropriate" instruction?

Ann Althouse said...

Well, the schools can be concerned that the kids with same-sex parents ought to be accepted and not treated badly by other kids. If the teachers don't talk about those kids with gay parents will themselves do the explaining.

tommy said...

Why was King and King chosen for second graders?

Doug said...

Tommy,

Excellent point. Why this subject needs to be discussed in second grade escapes me.

Beyond that, and despite the fact that I don't necessarily agree with the parents in the case, this story is further evidence in favor my personal biases against public education.

downtownlad said...

We live in a democracy. Last time I checked, school boards were elected. I'm pretty willing to bet that most Massachusetts citizens don't have a problem with this.

So if you don't like it - then either put your kids in private school or move.

The vast majority of schools in this country teach that being gay is immoral and they teach that gays should refrain from sex from their entire lives. If that's ok, then surely a book that teaches that gay people exist is acceptable as well.

Ann Althouse said...

But downtownlad, my question is about whether schools ought to try harder not to drive conservative parents into home schooling and private schools.

Bruce Hayden said...

I start by agreeing with Doug that this is one of the reasons that I so dislike the idea of public education, and anything I say here is also colored by that.

What you are getting into is a definition of the greater good, and who should make that determination. Ann suggests that maybe the greater good is that the few kids with same sex parents be made comfortable is more important than parents deciding what is important for their kids. Others have made similar points.

But why is that the greater good? We probably have between a hundred and two hundred and fifty thousand years of history behind us where the parents, the local family unit, and their religion made this determination. And now, we have a bunch of self-appointed bureaucrats making this determination. Why is their determination more compelling? I remain unconvinced.

And then, up until now, I would suggest that one of our accepted fundamental rights has been to raise our kids however we want to, within certain, rapidly now constricting, guidelines.

My view is that overall, parents should have this right and responsibility. They are, by and large, much better positioned to make this choice. Part of their decision in having kids is passing down their heritage, and this is part of it.

Finally, I have to say that starting gay awareness training this young smacks of indoctrination.

Bruce Hayden said...

Downtown

Good in theory, not so good in practice. Most school boards these days are relatively captive of the school systems they theoretically oversee. They do this by any number of quasi-legal means, including here in CO, having school board elections at extremely odd times and locations, high thresholds for petitioning onto the ballot, etc.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ann,

I would suspect that some in public education are probably happy with those more interested in traditional education for their kids going elsewhere, as long as it doesn't come out of their budgets. This reduces their accountability, since these are precisely the parents who would most likely hold the public educators responsible. Think of it as a pressure relief valve.

Of course, the real worry I think is that if enough parents pull their kids out of the public education system, at some point the pressure for vouchers, etc., will become overwhelming.

Bruce Hayden said...

Finn,

I am not convinced that society as a whole is getting ready to fully condone homosexuality. Rather, a part of it is in strong support, and that part strongly controls the public education system, and has some control in the courts and legislatures.

And, though they are often conflated, I will submit that there is a big difference between not condoning what two people do in the bedroom together and teaching all 1st and 2nd graders about same sex marriages because the school systems want to protect their putative kids from harassment.

Think of the difference as being between liberty and forced speech. The first is libertarian, and the second, the opposite.

vnjagvet said...

DTL:

This may show my ignorance, but how much awareness of sexual preference did you have at ages 5-7? I had none IIRC.

I have no policy problem either with having a book like this in an elementary school library or in using it in a social studies class in middle school along with other books exploring how families live together, and the like.

But elected school boards notwithstanding, I think parents should have a right to make their views known on when and whether their very young children are tought about how the other half lives.

They have enough trouble absorbing and mastering reading, writing and 'rithmatic at that age, at least in my experience.

altoids1306 said...

Wow, argument #1431 for school vouchers.

If the money is attached to the kids, and the parents can choose the schools, then schools will adapt to parents preferences. Parents can send their kids to schools that cater to their tastes. I can only imagine that this freedom would become more attractive as the children reach a dating age.

Wade_Garrett said...

My first response is, what's the big deal? I can understand parents not agreeing with everything their kids learn in school, but remember, it was up to parents creationism would be taught in most of the public schools in this country.

Personally, I think that public schools should teach children how to think, not what to think. Those tools will serve them better in the long run than will any particular fact or theory they learned in school.

Usually, I use this argument in response to my conservative friends who think, along the lines of Phyllis Schlafly, that schools should be used to teach kids to respect authority, to teach moral values, and produce graduates who want to serve their country. I disagree with most of that, I think the job of schools is to teach kids to think. But liberals are guilty of the same thing. I doubt that many 7 year olds make an issue out of a kid having two fathers. Older kids, perhaps, but 7 year olds? I think that this sort of thing should be dealth with when the students are old enough to have more of a context for it.

Bruce Hayden said...

DTL,

The other thing is that at the age of these kids, they are completely non-sexual. To some extent, this is bringing in sexuality at a level where it is otherwise inappropriate.

I think that many of us who you would consider conservative would not be opposed to talking realistically about homosexuality in, say, junior high and high school. My view is that if you are going to have some sex ed, which even many private schools have, then it is probably advantageous to point out that a small percentage of kids are just not going to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex, but rather to their own. I would probably stop there, because what is done because of that is IMHO not the responsibility of schools to decide. But that is a very different discussion.

I should note that your complaint that some schools teach that homsexuality is sinful is no different from the complaint of many that some schools teach just the opposite. My view is that both are wrong.

downtownlad said...

Ann,

I think the schools should teach it if that's what the public favors. It's their choice if they want to alienate conservatives.
Conservative school districts have absolutely no qualms about alienating gay people. They teach gay students that they should wait until they are married before having sex, and in the next breath they teach that gay students cannot get married.
Conservatives wanted a culture war and they got one.

Personally - I think public schools should be abolished and they should be replaced with nothing. If you can afford to send your kids to school, that's great. If you can't afford to send your kids to private school, then maybe you need to learn about birth control.

As someone who's never going to have kids, I'm tired of subsidizing the breeders.

Bruce Hayden said...

Terry,

And I think the natural corrolary from what you just said is that this is not teaching kids how to think, but the opposite, what to think. Which is why I called it indoctrination.

Dave said...

Easy answer: kill public education.

Will never happen of course, but it is an abomination.

J said...

"the schools can be concerned that the kids with same-sex parents ought to be accepted and not treated badly by other kids"

I have to agree with other commenters that this smells a lot like indoctrination. I know there are kids being raised by homosexual couples, but I suspect their number is so low that the likelihood of your kid meeting a child with gay parents is pretty much nil. Is there any reliable source with stats about that sort of thing?

"Should schools do more to accommodate traditional parents? Well to the extent that they can utilize a host of existing and new material that is non-controversial, they should."

Like in this case, where there is an almost infinite supply of non-controversial material and a teacher went out of their way to find something that was...different. Since schoolchildren are a captive audience required by law to be present, parents have a right to evaluate and edit what they're taught.

Ehud Blade said...

Elected schmeleted. They're "elected:" the Constitution's dead.

I'd live and die to go to the same heaven and hell as Brennan.

The Brennan who went to his private hell to vote "public" against public school prayer (he admitted that he privately hated his own decision, but for the better interests of the "law" ...), would puke his guts out at the "elected" argument clientele.

That a parent subject to right under notification law can't object is as "gay" (sick) as Nietzsche's "Gay Science" – for those who don't know the meaning of this reference, the point is: that the subjective effects (subjective effects: what Nietzsche tried to deny to "objective" science) of pro-gay literature on second graders is a policy matter. No matter who raises the objection.

The reason why gay couples with kids in San Francisco are objecting to visibly open sexual displays (in real life, and against naked manikins in store windows) in the Castro are because gay couples with children are being domesticated (i.e., becoming more "traditional" in values), because they don't want their own children exposed to explicit sexuality – of any kind, prematurely – the subjective effect on the kids.

Sure, this is a fairy tale. Not a naked manikin with an erection in a store window. So when the worst complaint against the literature is that the fairy tale is "bad art" – something's lost, already. "Gee, daddy, these graphics really terrify me! Daddy, please go to the school board and get more Andy Worhol!"

The notion that school districts have a duty to speak affirmatively in favor of gay parents as a matter of (what? education policy?) .. is very impressive – on the heart strings. So the affirmative duty has a corresponding effect of so discounting the subjective effects on second graders that these effects don't count. Fairy tales – reminds me of the South Park episode when the gay teacher brought in his "sub" and shoved gerbils up his ass, while the students who complained were subjected to "counseling."

I'm pro-gay. I'm pro-gay marriage. But, the "pc" against complainers anti my position, are a bit shifting ....

downtownlad said...

Bruce,

The book is not about sexuality. The book is about a love story between two men. No different than a love story about a guy and a girl (i.e. Cinderella as someone pointed out).

If it was about sex - I'm really interested in hearing about it? What page was that on? Is Cinderella about sex? Snow White?

The book teaches that gay people exist. That's it. And they do. No amount of home schooling is going to prevent these kids from figuring that out one day.

Personally - I wouldn't read this book to 2nd graders. It's not worth the controversy. But then again - I wouldn't be suing the school just because I disagreed with what a teacher taught.

Then again - I'd never send my kids (if I had any) to public school. Public schools are wasteful and inefficient.

tommy said...

Part of the issue may be trying to stop the kids from harassing the children of same sex parents. The problem is kids are going to pick on whichever child is different, no matter the cause. A class on play nice with others might be worthwhile I guess.

The budget issue can be a real concern, since school districts typically don't lose money when a child is home schooled, increasing the number of home schooled children improves the budget.

Elizabeth said...

This is another twisty-turny subversion of inclusiveness. We're nowhere near establishing a safe and inclusive climate for gay students, and for students with gay parents, but we have to pull back and start worrying about how poor conservatives feel about it. So I guess my answer is no, public schools ought not to worry about driving "conservative" (when did that become a euphamism for bigoted? That's a pity.) parents to the private sector. Good riddance.

Sounds harsh, I know, but I'm tired beyond words of being asked to consider the needs of people who hate me and think their children need to be shielded from any idea that I might actually have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Bruce Hayden said...

DTL

You may surprise yourself someday and want kids. Obviously, not in a traditional heterosexual family setting, but still, never say never. Besides, we aren't that far away from the time when the need for tying up women for 9 months as human incubators will be unnecessary.

That said, I would agree with abolishing public education. But I say that having spent a fortune on private schooling, with more to come. Realistically, the amount spent on public education is extremely wasteful and inefficient. Without public education, the vast bulk of the population would still manage to get their kids educated, esp. with the money previously spent there staying in their pockets (and, unfortunately, the pockets of their parents and grandparents, which is the weakness in my theory).

Jacques Cuze said...

Heather Has Two Mommies : 10th Anniversary Edition
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Book Description
Originally self-published in 1989, Heather Has Two Mommies became the first title in Alyson's newly formed Alyson Wonderland imprint in 1990. The simple and straightforward story of a little girl named Heather and her two lesbian mothers was created by Newman and illustrator Diana Souza because children's books that reflected a nontraditional family did not exist, but a firestorm of controversy soon ensued. Attacked by the religious right, lambasted by Jesse Helms from the floor of the U.S Senate, and stolen from library shelves, it was an uphill battle for Heather. Thanks to the overwhelming support of booksellers, librarians, parents, and children, however, Heather Has Two Mommies has sold over 35,000 copies, launched a minor industry in providing books for the children of gay and lesbian parents and, as attested to by a recent New Yorker cartoon, become part of the cultural lexicon.


It's not sex education. It's about non-traditional families.

Kids in 2nd grade are 7-9 years old. At that point they've been able to figure out that some families are different than others.

When I was growing up, it was rare to know a kid from a divorced family. Now I am sad to say, my daughters have two daddies. The custody evaluator tells me I am "daddy" the jerk in trouble with the SEC is "dad". Wonderful, I mutter.

If kids can have step-parents and step-siblings why not let them know that other kids have two mommies or two daddies.

Should schools coddle parents? The school's mandate is to bring up citizens, not to establish religions.

If in today's society the citizens have differing family structures, the schools should teach that.

Would you have the schools not teach evolution? Teach ID?

Should schools sell soft drinks to kids whose parents think it okay? Cigarettes?

If I tell the school I think PE is a source for my kids to feel out of place do to their size, should the schools coddle me?

I am a violent flat-earther, none of that geography/geology crap for my kids!

I think English is the language of Oppressors. Please teach my kids ebonics.

Science is a tool of the patriarchy. I want my kids to go to peace and art class as opposed to science classes.

My body used to be filled with the fighting souls of an alien race that came to this planet in spaceships resembling DC3s. It upsets me to have my children taught the name of the planet is Earth. It is really Teegach. And in history, why are you not teaching about Xenu and Incident Two?

Your bodies are still filled with these alien spirits. I can help you become clean, ask me how.

Aren't all you guys the usual suspects that complain the schools should be teaching more family values?

Aspasia M. said...

My primary response to the book, is that it sounds too easy for 2nd grade. Is it a picture book? Was the teacher reading it outloud?

My second response is that I picked up Judy Blume's wifey and read it in second grade. There was plenty of innappropriate sexual material. But primarily I ignored it. Not surprisingly, the scattalogical aspect of the doctor husband tracking his kid's bowl movements was the most interesting thing about the book to me.

I wouldn't be surprised if the kids ignored the gender-marriage stuff unless it is a part of class discussion.
-----

I think public schools should be abolished and they should be replaced with nothing. If you can afford to send your kids to school, that's great. If you can't afford to send your kids to private school, then maybe you need to learn about birth control.

We could also bring back child labor and work houses! Those kids shouldn't have made the horrible choice of being born to poor parents. What were they thinking?

As someone who's never going to have kids, I'm tired of subsidizing the breeders.

Two words: Social Security.

Jacques Cuze said...

Wow, argument #1431 for school vouchers.

If the money is attached to the kids, and the parents can choose the schools, then schools will adapt to parents preferences. Parents can send their kids to schools that cater to their tastes.


Wow, argument #1 against school vouchers. Schools should be teaching our kids to be citizens, and their education should be based on standards, not on parents preferences.

Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

downtownlad said...

Social Security??? You're joking, right?

Sorry - but the one entitity that is getting subsidized with Social Security is the government.

Please, please, please give me control over my Social Security accounts. I would love to invest it in the stock market at 10% a year.

I already have enough money for retirement and I'm only 37.

Ehud Blade said...

Elizabeth,

Good point on the "twisty-turny subversion of inclusiveness."

Roughly 5% of the animal kingdom is observably homosexual. Not that ethology nor psychobiology should be our guides on a policy matter. Besides, it would be at least two more generations of development before these sciences could (if they ever should) be considered as mere evidence for normative policy arguments. Sexual polarization as a matter of biological development works both ways: gay and straight. With all the shades of grey in between: a point that Erik Erikson missed in his clinical observations on sexual polarization.

I'm guessing, impressionistically: with a base population of roughly 5%, you're pretty much always going to need the "protect the minority" chant popularized by Brennan. So, your argument is always valid – because there may never be a symmetry between pro-hetero and pro-homo sentiments in the general population.

Jacques Cuze said...

I don't want my kids learning that damned blue state culture. Blue state culture is all that is wrong with America. Millionaires are Republicans, so we can thank the Republican Party for all the success we've had in America since the Industrial Revolution!


Harvard University economists, Edward L. Glaeser and Bryce A. Ward,: Origins of Blue State Culture



The extent and permanence of cultural divisions across space is one of America’s most remarkable features.... [I]n... April 2004... twenty-three percent of respondents in Oregon, Washington and California thought that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Forty-seven percent of respondents in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas had that view. In the 1987-2003 PEW Values surveys, 56 percent of Mississippi residents think that AIDS is God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior. Only 16 percent of Rhode Island residents share that view....

We find little support for the belief that these cultural differences represent long-standing differences in religiosity or the legacy of slavery. Instead... Blue State culture reflects primarily the legacy of different ethnicities working together at high densities: the most important historical explanatory variables are the share of the labor force in manufacturing in 1920 and the share of the population that was foreign born in 1920 in predicting liberal beliefs and voting for John Kerry. We interpret these results as suggesting that the liberal views that reduced traditional social divisions came about because there were gains to reducing economic and religious conflicts that could derail interactions in the marketplace.

Bruce Hayden said...

DTL,

Well, I am 55, and don't have enough, and a lot of that is because of my choice of private school (and then, the possibility of private college). So, maybe you did make the right choice.

Henry said...

After many hours of nagging, the crown prince, who "never cared much for princesses," finally caves in and agrees to wed in order to ascend the throne....

This sounds like plagiarism to me:

FATHER: Listen, lad, I built this kingdom up from nothing. All I had when I started was swamp ... other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same ... just to show 'em. It sank into the swamp. So I built a another one ... that sank into the swamp. I built another one ... That fell over and THEN sank into the swamp .... So I built another ... and that stayed up.... And that's what your gonna get, lad: the most powerful kingdom in this island.

PRINCE: But I don't want any of that, I'd rather ...

FATHER: Rather what?

PRINCE: I'd rather ... just ... sing ...

Marghlar said...

I'm with geoduck and Adam Smith -- universal, high quality public education is essential to maintaining a meritocratic element in a captialistic society. Without it, you get an inherited aristocracy of capital. I'd rather not have the next generation's Steven Hawking languish through child labor, thank you very much.

As far as this storybook goes -- I really do think that opposition amounts to saying that there is something wrong with homosexual partnerships, and we need to subtly encode that to children, if only by exclusion of subject matter. Children ought to be presented with the world as it really is, which involves men who are attracted to other men. A storybook that tells such a story isn't doing any harm. Parents remain free to try and teach their kids things that are different from what they learn in school (creationism, e.g.) and why they think that the school's message is wrong. Or to send their kids to a private school, if need be.

We need not and should not decide not to teach tolerance because some parents might be bothered by the message. If they object, they remain free to campaign for school board, win by majority vote and change the policy.

The outrage over this storybook is every bit as offensive as it would be if the objection was to a fairy tale involving a light skinned princess marrying a dark skinned prince.

Aspasia M. said...

Public schools are wasteful and inefficient.

Y'all should consider why some public school systems do a excellent job educating kids. Some of our public schools are equal to the top private schools in America.

For example, the New Trier school district in the north suburbs of Chicago is excellent. New Trier high school is better then most private high schools in America. It competes with the very top private schools and only schools with immense ammount of resources and very small class sizes can beat the academic quality. (Exeter, for example.)

Furthermore, it's a lot cheeper per student to set up a high school like New Trier then to run Exeter or Andover.

Marghlar said...

DTL: that social security could be improved by investment crap doesn't work, because social security works as a wealth transfer from current workers to the currently retired and disabled. You can't just stop contributing and start investing without cutting off current beneficiaries.

If you'd like to return to a time where the elderly quietly starved and the disabled needed to beg in the streets, feel free to argue straightforwardly for that. I am happy to donate a portion of my earnings for the well-being of my society. Making America into Calcutta is an unattractive vision to me.

Aspasia M. said...

downtown lad:

I'm talking about how the younger generation is going to be financing the older generation. I was not referring to your personal situation.

Kids born now will end up, on average, paying a lot of taxes for our generation. And our generation will end up paying to support those about 20-30 years older then us.

And while you may have your retirement set up, the American savings rate is, what, like 1 percent?

Palladian said...

"As someone who's never going to have kids, I'm tired of subsidizing the breeders."

You've demonstrated, time and again, that you are incapable of engaging in a rational debate on any subject related to homosexuality. I've always found your emotionalism to be embarassing and counter-productive, but this statement just crosses the line into sheer offensive stupidity. If you think that dismissing the concerns of "breeders" is an acceptable solution to this argument, then don't pull your emotionalist nonsense the next time someone suggests that, as a "non-breeder", you're a completely moribund negative drain on society.

Elizabeth: "but we have to pull back and start worrying about how poor conservatives feel about it. So I guess my answer is no, public schools ought not to worry about driving "conservative" (when did that become a euphamism for bigoted? That's a pity.) parents to the private sector. Good riddance."

Your dismissal of the concerns of parents about the education of their children is just as offensive as downtownlad's "breeder" remark. Good riddance? Yikes, especially coming from an educator.

Of course if the State weren't in the primary educational provider game, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Should schools coddle parents? The school's mandate is to bring up citizens, not to establish religions."

Why is that a public school's mandate? Sure, I see that trotted out a lot, but if put to a true vote (in a general election, not one of these Micky Mouse school board elections held at weird time at obscure locations), I am sure that it would lose by a wide margin if competing with the theory that public schools are for teaching the three R's, and training our next generation to compete in the knowledge based world economy.

No, that is merely an excuse for indoctrinating kids. And let me add that the values being indoctrinated are often not those that society as a whole would back.

If you want to talk citizenship, what about learning about patriotism, providing ROTC, learning the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and MLK's Dream Speech? How about even learning English? Wouldn't that do more to teach citizenship than fuzzy tolerance of some politically correct views, and intolerance of some politically incorrect ones?

Aspasia M. said...

I should just wait for Marghlar to type is comment and say "ditto" or "I agree."

Making America into Calcutta is an unattractive vision to me.

Yeppers. When I visited India a few years ago, I saw a kid about three or four carrying around a baby. They were both dirty and while the toddler briefly asked for money, he wasn't begging in a organized way.

Those particular children were notable from the other children in that they weren't organized in a group of kids begging. I was also surprised to see such a young kid carring for an infant.

Jacques Cuze said...

If you want to talk citizenship, what about learning about patriotism, providing ROTC, learning the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and MLK's Dream Speech? How about even learning English? Wouldn't that do more to teach citizenship than fuzzy tolerance of some politically correct views, and intolerance of some politically incorrect ones?

Fallacy of the excluded middle.

Bruce Hayden said...

geoduck2

I don't know what the demographics at New Trier are now, but I know quite a few of its graduates from 35 or so years ago, and back then, the community was fairly affluent and homogenous. I knew some very rich kids from that school, and the rest were at least upper middle class. Not as rich, on average, as farther north, but still well above average in wealth. And part of why it was as competitive was a fairly high (at least back then) Jewish component.

I should add that one of the things you buy with the more expensive prep school is some diversity. At least here in CO, the most expensive private schools are significantly more diverse racially than those costing half as much. And part of that is the cost of scholorships for high achieving, less affluent, minorities.

I should note that that school I mentioned earlier with all those blonde soccer players is a very affluent public school, in a very homogenous school district. But it is no surprise that the top public high school in CO is invariably from just that type of school district. (But then, I have never understood why parents who could afford million dollar houses, sent their kids to public school in the first place - except for exceptional ones like New Trier).

Elizabeth said...

Palladian, as always you reduce things to the most generic of issues, the broad dumping ground of the "concerns of parents about their children's education." It is specifically the desire of some parents to make sure their religious teachings drive our schools' missions that concerns me.

And as an educator, I have no problem saying good riddance to those parents. Of course, I don't teach children, so my role as an educator is irrelevant. When I entered college, it was illegal for gay people to teach in the public schools in my parish (county). How do you like them apples? I'm sure that bigoted, hateful policy was based on the "concerns" of some parents, but it was still wrong, and not deserving of our tolerance.

Marghlar said...

When I entered college, it was illegal for gay people to teach in the public schools in my parish (county). How do you like them apples? I'm sure that bigoted, hateful policy was based on the "concerns" of some parents, but it was still wrong, and not deserving of our tolerance.

Well said, Elizabeth.

Bruce Hayden said...

??

What is the excluded middle then?

I would suggest, BTW, that my suggestion of what might be taught to further the goal of citizenship is closer to what a majority in this country would agree with, than much of what is taught these days with that justification.

Besides, I was making a point, so, naturally exaggerated a bit.

Bruce Hayden said...

Elizebeth,

Maybe one reason that so many parents did object to gay teachers is exactly what we are talking about here - that their kids are being indoctrinated at such a young age into gay acceptance.

I don't think that for most of them, it was ever a mistaken belief that gay teachers were more likely to molest their kids, but rather the fear, apparently justified now, that a next step would be indoctrination that a gay lifestyle is as legitimate as (or more so than?) a straight one.

Henry said...

Quxxo -- Are you banned? Why the sock puppets? Anyway I give credit to you for beating me to a Monty Python reference.

The case sounds incredibly bogus to me. The Massachusetts Supreme Judical Court ordered the state legislature to make gay marriage legal. I find it hard to believe that a different act of the legislature could be interpreted to ban the reality of the SJC's decision.

Elizabeth said...

Bruce, why should the rest of us tippytoe around these parents desire to indoctrinate their children in the belief that gay people are bad? Having gay teachers simply presents the reality that there they are, gay people No horns, no tails. So how is the simple fact of my existance some sort of indoctrination? It's not, no more than having a black teacher is "indoctrination" into the belief that black people are equal to white people.

Gay teachers were banned out of a moral judgment that gay people are bad people. Why on earth should we allow that kind of indocrination?

Jacques Cuze said...

As you can tell, they aren't sock puppets, they all point to me, quxxo.

No, I'm not banned. I am just having some fun with blogger and expressing that "quxxo is a citizen of the world"

Also making it harder for blackhats to find me through google.

The excluded middle Bruce is that you can teach the values you want to teach AS well as teaching kids to be knowledgable of their communities and tolerant of the people in them. You pose it as an either-or, and it is not that at all.

I don't think that for most of them, it was ever a mistaken belief that gay teachers were more likely to molest their kids, but rather the fear, apparently justified now, that a next step would be indoctrination that a gay lifestyle is as legitimate as (or more so than?) a straight one.

Bruce I would prefer my kids not be taught that Santa Claus is as legitimate as (or more so than?) our lifestyle as het-flex-xenu-ju-bus (Hetero-Flexible Scientologists with Jewish and Buddhist beliefs). But it's not going to happen. To quote the divine Ms. A, "get used to it." Try as you like, the image of gay lifestyles is no longer going to be that of a boot stomping on a face forever.

There are not too many of us het-flex-xenu-ju-bus but we are growing and demand to be treated with respect.

Sadly, because of the way society treats us, many of us are still closeted, we refer to their degree of closetedness with the prefixes hemi, semi, and demi, or combinations of the three.

I have many close friends that are
hemi-demi-semi-het-flex-xenu-ju-bus-Americans.

Well, I'm out now. I'll leave the face stomping to you.

Palladian said...

"No horns, no tails."

You never met my ex boyfriend.

Marghlar said...

"No horns, no tails."

You never met my ex boyfriend.


So, is this your cheating heart telling on you? Normally, I'd say that your boyfriend's horns are not something to brag about...

Aspasia M. said...

Bruce Hayden,

I don't know the demographics today, but I went to the elementry & middle schools in Northbrook, IL in the late 70s and 80s. (south of Wilmette and east of Evanston.) It was fairly affluent with a high percentage of Jewish students.

(But then, I have never understood why parents who could afford million dollar houses, sent their kids to public school in the first place - except for exceptional ones like New Trier).

If the house increases in price, it can be used as an investment. In constrast, to get the benefit of a really good private school (versus a mediocre private school) it usually requires upwards of 20K/year. A boarding school, of course, also adds the room and travel expenses.

But, primarily my point was that public schools can offer an excellent education. We have evidence of it in this country and in several other 1st world countries.

Elizabeth said...

Palladian and Marghlar: chuckles to both of you!

Jacques Cuze said...

I have never understood why parents who could afford million dollar houses, sent their kids to public school in the first place

The principal of my elementary school was a WWII hero from the Battle of The Bulge. We had doctors. We had interested teachers. We had community support.

We had the majority of our kids go on to college.

reader_iam said...

Personally - I think public schools should be abolished and they should be replaced with nothing. If you can afford to send your kids to school, that's great. If you can't afford to send your kids to private school, then maybe you need to learn about birth control.

As someone who's never going to have kids, I'm tired of subsidizing the breeders.


Duly noted, DTL, in all its selfish and unthinking jerkiness.

Elizabeth said...

I have to disagree with DTL on the breeder subsidization thing. We might as well educate 'em since we'll be sharing the streets, the road, the malls, the air and yada yada with 'em. It's enlightened self-interest.

I did, however, stick to a strict "no blenders for breeders" policy for years. If I can't marry, it feels pretty lousy to have to pony up for wedding gifts. Now that my siblings' kids are marrying, I've softened up on that a bit.

reader_iam said...

Btw, I didn't have a kid until I was 39 and both my husband and I, of course, through tax dollars, paid to support public schools for all the years before. then Now my kid's almost six, and we still support public schools (willingly) through our taxes and otherwise--and he's in private school, for which we pay the full freight.

"And Tango Makes Three" sits on his night table, among other books, just for the record. It's not an anomaly.

Why do you think your attitude is in any way laudable, much less helpful?

reader_iam said...

I wouldn't put up with the dismissive phrase "breeders," as you proudly and demeaningly put it, from my kid, any more than I would put up with any sort of gay-bashing comment from him.

BOTH categories are among our families, our close friends and neighbors.

What is WRONG with you all? You argue for greater knowledge and tolerance by using ignorant phrases, with regard to the former, and exhibiting anything but, with regard to the latter.

Elizabeth said...

reader_iam, please read my comment again. I was making light of DTL's comment, and was clear that I disagree about our collective responsibility for educating young citizens.

But I'm still not buying any wedding presents!

XWL said...

I see quxxo has turned japanese.

I can't find any definition for kuzo, but kuso (which the word resembles, but for the marks on the second character) is a vulgar word for excrement.

That fits.

As far as this post's topic, public schools aren't centers of learning so much as centers of indoctrination.

If schools would focus on the basics, maybe these sort of controversies wouldn't pop up.

(kids see through this crap (kuso, if you will) though, so it's self-defeating, even on 2nd graders)

Seven Machos said...

Leftists object vehemently to religious teaching in school, or even prayer at football games, or even the word God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Why can't religious people object to course materials which suggest that homosexuality is acceptable? Why does homosexuality need to be mentioned EVER, AT ALL in school (let alone second grade) when, as I can personally attest from years of experience, a huge percentage of high school kids don't really understand fractions, and don't read super-well?

Perhaps the best rule would be to simply leave controversial crap out of public schools when there is so much that everyone agrees kids need to learn, and kids aren't learning that stuff well.

Michael Farris said...

"Leftists object vehemently to religious teaching in school, or even prayer at football games, or even the word God in the Pledge of Allegiance."

I object to the word God in the Pledge of Allegiance as an unecessary addition from the 50's that screws up the rhythm. I wouldn't mind non-denominational public prayers, but I remember standing next to a Jewish student at football games who didn't like having Jesus shoved down her throat.

I have no problem with teaching comparative religion in school "Christians believe X, Buddhists believe Y, etc" though in my experience it usually turns into: "My religion is best for the following reasons..."

"Why can't religious people object to course materials which suggest that homosexuality is acceptable?"

Well I think it's fine at the appropriate time to mention that a) some (not all) religious traditions are opposed in varying degrees to homosexual relationships b) homosexual relationships are in fact currently legal in the US. Let them work out the consequences according to their own (and not their parents' consciences). Parents have the responsibility to make it clear to their children what their values are. They do not have the right to try to censor conflicting information from their children IMHO.

"Why does homosexuality need to be mentioned EVER, AT ALL in school"

It's an issue in the world that students will come across at some time. Pretending it doesn't exist does no one any favors. I might agree that second grade isn't the optimum time for that. I'd have no problem with the book being in the library though (along with books from various religious faiths).

"Perhaps the best rule would be to simply leave controversial crap out of public schools when there is so much that everyone agrees kids need to learn, and kids aren't learning that stuff well."

I think how to handle controversial issues is a separate issue from how well schools are conveying the basics. Leaving controversial crap out of the curriculum entirely is a way to make school torture. My few enduring memories from school (good and bad) usually involve controversial crap.

Slocum said...

downtownlad said...

The vast majority of schools in this country teach that being gay is immoral and they teach that gays should refrain from sex from their entire lives.

They do? The vast majority of public schools teach this? Care to refer us to the relevant curricula, books and materials that incorporate this lesson? Cause otherwise this sounds like BS to me. I would say that the vast majority of public elementary schools teach nothing at all one way or the other about being gay--with the exception of sex-ed classes in the later grades (and I'd be willing to be that you won't be able to find a public school sex-ed program that teaches that gays are immoral).

L. Ron Halfelven said...

Watching downtownlad invoke vox populi vox Dei on gay marriage is such a hoot that it's almost worth the annoyance of seeing him brag about the money yet again.

Ann Althouse said...

Why is the term "breeders" still in use? Gay people are fighting for the right to marry and now emphasize that they have families just like everyone else. Anyone saying "breeders" is hurting the gay marriage effort. Do you want to promote the notion that homosexuality is a counterculture, that heterosexuals are squares?

Pogo said...

Ideologues like downtownlad, the faux-oriental quxxo, and the union-controlled education system will likely succeed, at least in large urban centers, in requiring schools to promote all that is PC, include the notion of homosexuality uber alles. This is already the case in Canada and the UK, where it's illegal to defend your own home from invasion by thieves, and one can be arrested for calling a horse 'gay'.

I suspect, however that indoctrination will fall short of the Two Minutes of Hate against the breeders. But since those useless breeders are raising the bulk of the breed and contributing a large portion of their taxes to the indoctrination efort, they may well vote against this, but not at the school board level. With their feet.

Damn breeders; can't trust 'em no-how.

MadisonMan said...

Why is the term "breeders" still in use?

It's my understanding that breeder is a derogatory word used by the childfree to denote those who reproduce but don't parent.

I have to confess that before I saw the link, I took this article to occur in Lexington, Ky, not Massachusetts. I agree that the book seems awfully simple for 2nd grade, and that it hardly seems like sex education to suggest that gays exist.

tjl said...

Slocum:

"downtownlad said...

The vast majority of schools in this country teach that being gay is immoral and they teach that gays should refrain from sex from their entire lives."

You have to bear in mind that DTL is simply not capable of expressing any thought related to gay issues without the shrillest hyperbole. Compare this with the comments of Elizabeth and Palladian. They are able to argue that gay people should be included in the normal spectrum of family life without the use of language that suggests the opposite.

Please, DTL, lighten up on the gratuitously provocative remarks and you might actually persuade someone who doesn't already agree with us.

me said...

So, do people really think that if we abolished public schools the vast majority of people would still make sure their kids were somehow educated? REALLY? Public schools definitely need improvement -- but axing them would create a permanent underclass. Very poor children are forced to go to school, and some of them never learn to read, drop out of high school, or graduate because of "social promotion." What about the percentage that does learn to read, learns basic math skills, and goes out and gets a decent job as a secretary or a medical technician or something? Do you just throw those very poor kids down the toilet? Because a family making just enough to put food on the table is not going to magically be able to afford to pay to send their kids to school. What happened to the ideal of the schoolhouse out on the prairie where the community paid the teacher's salary so s/he could educate the children living on the farm? What happened to the idea that everyone needs and deserves an education so they can make a good life for themselves, even if their parents can't afford to pay thousands of dollars for a private school? I though that was quintessentially American . . .

PS: "I have to confess that before I saw the link, I took this article to occur in Lexington, Ky, not Massachusetts."

I am from KY, and when I was in school and we learned about the battles of Lexington and Concord I was quite puzzed -- why did the British and the americans come all the way to Lexington, KY from Mass. to fight a battle???? It took a while for it occur to me that there might be more than one town called Lexington. :) I guess that shows how bad my public education was. I just ended up borrowing a ton of money to go to law school, I think I needed more math to understand interest amoritization. :)

ChrisO said...

As one who lives near Lexington, Mass., I can say with confidence that it's quite likely that a child in that system will know someone with gay parents. And what's with the either/or logic? Many of you seem to be implying that reading King and King to school children somehow takes the place of teaching them math. If high school graduates can't do their algebra or don't know where Canada is, I really doubt it's because of the books they were read.

And as others have pointed out, this isn't a sex ed book. Do any of you really think that a second grader hearing about two daddies wonders how they have sex?

Pogo said...

Re: "Many of you seem to be implying that reading King and King to school children somehow takes the place of teaching them math."

Indeed it does. More time spent away from the school's primary purposes (the basics of math, reading, and citizenry) means less time for the core subjects. It is an either/or proposition.

Fractions aren't controversial, nor is "See Spot run." Why teachers feel the need to take time away from this to teach gay pride is the primary concern here.

knoxgirl said...

DTL said:

"As someone who's never going to have kids, I'm tired of subsidizing the breeders."

So you're a product of immaculate conception I guess.

DTL: the Ann Coulter of gay rights. Doing more harm than good whenever and wherever he can!

SWBarns said...

Ann, I beg to differ, Cinderella is about sex. The kids may not get it initially but they are learning about sexual roles. Oedepus, Electra, Cinderella, Snow White, the characters change but the story is the same.

Downtown Lad, I'll make a deal with you. You don't have to subsidize 12 years of my children's education and they won't subsidize 40 years of your retirement.

me said...

SW -- my friend, do you really think social security will be subsidizing 40 year retirements by the time people my age (26) retire? I assure you I am not counting on it -- but I don't mind paying social security b/c even though I'm saving up, I really don't want my fellow elderly to starve on the streets or in the slums, or to be eating dog food. Even though they would obviously deserve it for not saving for retirement.

Sloanasaurus said...

Regardless of the "value" component of "King and King" perhaps we should consider the education component.

It sounds like a stupid story to me especially for boys. The trouble with schools these days is that they are too femme. I got interested in reading history from reading about the Trojan War and other "violent" myths. These are the stories that boys like. Boys don't want to read about King and King or any love story for that matter. IF YOU WANT YOUR BOY TO READ GIVE HIM BOOKS THAT HE WILL LIKE TO READ. ..King and King... How boring.

Ann Althouse said...

SWBarns said..."Ann, I beg to differ, Cinderella is about sex."

The issue is what did the STATUTE mean by sex. Now tell me that you differ with me. Do you think the legislature mean to require notice to parents whenever stories like Cinderella were read?

L. Ron Halfelven said...

Does the book by any chance include the line "“I wolde I knewe how of thee I might be quitten”?

VW: dihpomia. With your help, we can find a cure before the nation's Comp Lit faculties are wiped out.

SteveR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SteveR said...

Its a nice device for debating, the whole, I'm paying taxes for something, I'll never use, etc, etc. As someone who has a good salary and benefits for myself and my family, as a result of federal taxes, 99% of what you pay taxes for you'll never use, and in some cases you better hope you never use. And in many cases you'll get something for which you paid nothing. We can discuss what's the best way to do all this but its silly to get your panties in a wad because you have to pay school taxes and you'll never have kids.

That's like complaining to the hotel you are staying at in December that part of your room cost is for maintaining the air conditioning system and you're not going to use it.

Marghlar said...

To all those who object on the basis that we need to teach the three Rs (or rather, the R, W & A):

The kids read storybooks in class regardless -- that's called learning to read. The suggestion that because the subject matter involves gay people, suddenly no one is learning how to read and comprehend English anymore is ridiculous. Kids read a lot of books in school. If one of them happens to mention homosexuality in a positive light, that in no way detracts from its educational benefit.

The truth is, the only real objection to this is that you don't want children to have a positive image of gay people. Well, if you can convince a school board to agree with you, get rid of the book or similar stuff. Otherwise, you are free to disagree, but you don't get a veto on what schools do just because you object to the message that gays and lesbians are people, too.

Seven Machos said...

Marghlar: Brilliant! Agreed!

It doesn't matter what kids read. When I was a 5th grader, some of the best reading I did was when my friend John and I discovered my dad's stash of Penthouse magazines. Loved the Penthouse Forum. Loved it.

Penthouse Forum for all second graders. Then maybe for third grade Helter Skelter, and some Marquis de Sade -- storybook versions, of course. Appropriateness of the material to the forum (excuse the pun) matters not one scintilla.

I wish we could all be as reasonable as you are.

Elizabeth said...

"Breeders" is, I agree, a word that is on its way to being retired, if not entirely out of use yet, for exactly the reason Ann gives, the increased profile of gay marriage. My "no blenders for breeders" slogan dates to the "Fuck Assimilation" '80s. It's an attitude of defiance in the face of alienation.

I don't think it's accurate to assume that because gay marriage is a hot issue that gay people therefore don't still face alienation, and don't harbor some defensive attitudes. But I can see where straight people wouldn't "get" the tone behind the language. When you hear dyke, fag, homo all your life (only two days ago I was told to "Shut up, fag!" by someone online), using breeder and het doesn't seem all that offensive. But I'll accept that my perspective is skewed.

tcd said...

Marghler,
You seem to forget that Social Security hasn't been around all that long. What happened to retired workers and old people before Social Security was implemented in America? Your argument seems to be that pre-Social Security America was just like Calcutta. Did I misunderstand your point?

Regardless, anyone not yet retired and is depending on Social Security for their future retirement, will be in for a rude awakening.

Pogo said...

Re: "but you don't get a veto on what schools do just because you object to the message that gays and lesbians are people, too"

And Marghlar precisely exposes the problem. My small collection of readers from the past 80 years or so is replete with second-grade-level stories about squirrels(!), seasons, animals, adventure, safety, and meals. Traditional male/female roles were at times part of the backdrop, but rarely the setting or purpose of the selection.

Today, liberal PC indoctrination demands that "diversity" is taught along with reading. Else, why include gay stories? So the primary purpose of text, to learn to read well, is subverted to the political goals of neo-Marxist class oppression dogma.

It is not dissimlar to the Cultural Revolution in China. Why not be done with it, and have these 7 & 8 year olds chant, "Remember Stonewall! Harvey Milk!" over and over? Have math problems that read: Two condoms plus two condoms equals:______? I mean, it's just vocabulary, and if you object to the insertion of gay politics here, by definition you object to the message that gays and lesbians are people.

Joan said...

And as others have pointed out, this isn't a sex ed book. Do any of you really think that a second grader hearing about two daddies wonders how they have sex?

I have a first grader and a third grader. They haven't read King & King, but I can tell you right off, if they did, they would notice straight away that this couple would not be able to have children. And they would know that that kings and queens get married so they can have children so there will be someone around to inherit the throne when they die. So this book would make no sense to them at all.

Second grade is the cusp of when children start to become curious about sex -- it may start even earlier depending on what the kids are exposed to. My son learned all the big swear words when he was in second grade -- hearing them used on the playground -- and I had a lesson with him of what they mean, that they're vulgar ways of saying what they mean, and that we don't say them. We've also had discussions about various suggestive ads and innuendos in media. So yes, I would say the typical second grader might think about the sex aspect of the relationship, since by this age they (should) know about how human reproduction works.

Marghlar:The truth is, the only real objection to this is that you don't want children to have a positive image of gay people.

Opposition to same sex marriage is not the same thing as homophobia, and conflating the two as you have done here is beneath you, Marghlar.

SWBarns said...

Ann, I'm against propagandizing second graders. The authors, the publisher and the teachers that selected this book were not thinking “what a nice story” they were making a political statement. I don’t think you can have an ‘intent of the teacher’ test for whether something falls into the category of Sex Education, but just because something starts ‘Once upon a time’ shouldn’t mean that it is exempt from review. An argument can be made that Cinderella is heteronormative propaganda and I don’t know how to rebut that argument, but I don’t think that parents concerns should be dismissed out of hand.

In response to ‘Me’ (above), you’re right that whole ‘my kids will support your retirement’ is a straw man. I’m 13 years older than you are and don’t expect to see a dime of the 15% of my income that goes into Social Security.

rmc said...

Knoxgirl:
So you're a product of immaculate conception I guess.

Nope, Immaculate Conception refers to being original-sin-free from the moment of your parents' ugly-bumping. If you're thinking of the story that Jesus was born without human fertilization to Mary (who herself was the only person said to be Immaculately Conceived), that's still a near-miss, since it still includes parenthood. You'd probably be better off with "spontaneous generation", the pre-Pasteur notion that organisms could originate from non-living matter.

As you can guess, I went to Catholic schools, along with Episcopal, non-religious private, and public schools in my wandering youth. I may or may not send my kid to some or all of those, but I'm glad* to pay taxes for public schools. Along with stever, marghlar, and my parents, I think public education provides benefits even to those without kids attending it, by creating better-functioning members of society than would exist without it. That makes the rest of us better off. My (imperfect) analogy is to fire protection: in a closely-spaced neighborhood, I might pay to put a sprinkler system in my house, but I'd also want my taxes to support a fire department to keep a fire at my neighbor's house from damaging mine. Even the tuition at my private schools was subsidized by non-parents, from parishioner or alumni contributions, so I've been on both sides of that enlightened self-interest equation.

And New Trier is an amazingly freakish outlier on the public education spectrum, making it just about as useful an example of normal public schooling as East St. Louis would be. I've known NT grads and my aunt teaches there. It's damn near sui generis.

(*)I'm not saying I'm happy to see that _much_ money flowing away from me, but that the principle is sound. I do have criticisms of how the school district spends its funds, and make an effort to vote wisely in the school board elections.

Michael Farris said...

"The authors, the publisher and the teachers that selected this book were not thinking “what a nice story” they were making a political statement."

Is there any way to mention homosexuality and/or gay people without making a political statement? Is there anyway to purposely avoid it through 12 years of school without making a political statement?

Joan said...

Is there any way to mention homosexuality and/or gay people without making a political statement?
Of course there is. You can acknowledge that homosexuality exists without making it a political statement. The question is, in which contexts does it make sense to be making such acknowledgements? I suppose this gets back to the "hetero-normative" view of the world, but interjecting homosexuality into subject matter which does not usually explicitly incorporate sexuality and gender roles is inappropriate, IMO.

Is there anyway to purposely avoid it through 12 years of school without making a political statement?
I can see discussing homosexuality in jr high and high school classes dealing with sexuality and family issues. I can't see how homosexuality is relevant to the other 99% of the school curriculum. Do we need to know whether a particular writer or scientist was gay? I don't see how that's relevant to the vast majority of a student's formal education. So I think it's not only possible, but desirable, to avoid discussing sexuality at all for the vast majority of a K-12 education.

My kids' school uses the Character Counts program to promote responsible behavior. It teaches respect, kindness, citizenship. Mercifully, it doesn't subscribe to the PC dogma of tolerance-above-all, which really means "Shut up if you disagree with me, or I'll make you shut up by calling you out as a bigot or worse."

L. Ron Halfelven said...

(south of Wilmette and east of Evanston.)

Wow. Their swim team must have gone all-state every single year!

Jacques Cuze said...

So I'm stuck.

I don't want my kids taught about paganism!

Should schools do more to accomodate parents that do not believe in evolution, even when the Vatican says that creationism is a "kind of paganism"

Fitz said...

This article and even Althouse’s post are an example of hide the ball obfuscation.

Lots of things are a reality, and some even legal throughout the land. (abortion)
None of that says you need to teach it (or should teach it) in the public schools.

The issue is not if kids should “opt-out” or be given notice to.
The issue is should we be using our public schools to normalize homosexuality this way.
I’m willing to let the local or state representatives and people be the final arbiters I suppose.
But the idea that somehow the issue is about a select few religious beliefs is ridiculous.

Why ignore the centrality of the dispute?

its easier to assume something to be true than prove it to be true. It’s more efficient that way” - Hannah Arendt

Pastor_Jeff said...

The way Ann entitled the thread is quite interesting: "traditional" here meaning "hetero-normative," and something that apparently needs to be accomodated. We have indeed come a long way when the one man-one woman family structure needs to be accomodated in public schools.

Isn't the real question, "What alternative lifestyles get recognition and affirmation?"

Why in the hell do 2nd graders need to know that some men are attracted to men? Some men are circumcised; some kill people for fun; some smoke (you won't see that in a kids' book); some are morbidly obese; some enjoy drugs, alcohol, and gambling. SO WHAT? Are these all things 7-year-olds need to know about, just because they happen?

Can we just all shut up about our personal lifestyle choices and let kids be kids? They'll have plenty of time to be indoctrinated into the correct views of sexuality in high school -- where some will be supported in disrupting learning on the Day of Silence and others sent home for wearing hetero-normative t-shirts.

vw: qlsbbo. Not going there.

knoxgirl said...

rmc: thanks for clarifying but all that Catholic dogma makes me queasy! phew!

Joseph Hovsep said...

I think the term "breeder" was used by DTL in an intentionally provocative and offense way, but I also think the term is not necessarily as offense as people think. Its supposed to be humorous and its usually used by gay people to subtly make fun of themselves, not to attack straight people.

It also serves another purpose in my mind. Much of the objection to homosexuality and recognition of same sex relationships boils down to the argument that homosexuality is unnatural because it is not procreative. Heterosexuality is therefore held up as natural and virtuous because it can be procreative. In my opinion, this virtue is misplaced. Afterall, procreation is easy, fun, there's no shortage of it and doing it recklessly can be quite the opposite of virtue. Using the term breeder separates the breeding from the parenting. I don't think breeders deserve any special respect because they breed. Parents do deserve respect for what they do and are entitled to special consideration under the law. And parents can be gay or straight, biological or adoptive, single or coupled.

Pogo said...

Re: "I don't think breeders deserve any special respect because they breed."

The reduction of the human to that of a mere animal is a disgusting tendency amongst ideologues, a method used to denigrate opponents. I find such descriptors, and (here) the efforts to shove the gay lifestyle into public schools have over time eroded my former support of advancement for gay causes.

Increasingly I find myself opposing their agenda at every turn. Good work, lads!

Michael Farris said...

"but interjecting homosexuality into subject matter which does not usually explicitly incorporate sexuality and gender roles is inappropriate, IMO."

I remember lots of gender role stuff from my days at school, in retrospect conveying and reinforcing gender roles seemed to be one of the principle aims of the place. And many (at least some) people will say that homosexuality isn't so much about sex as about love.

I'd likely agree that second grade is a little young for prince meets prince books in class (though again, having the book in the library for kids to ignore or find seems okay enough along with religious and even creationist texts even though my opinion of creationism is pretty low).
On the other hand, kids aren't dumb or blind and in some parts of the country are sure to notice that some of the kids have two mommies or two daddies instead of the more common one of each. Just because teachers don't bring it up doesn't mean the kids aren't wondering about it.
And as a general principle I'm not in favor or ignoring the gorilla hoping it'll go away.

And (repeating myself) some of these parent protests are the equivalent of trying to put toothpaste back into the tube. Gay people can and do form households and raise children, in the future that will likely increase.
Not wanting that mentioned in school is sort shutting the barn door after ...

Abraham said...

Sounds harsh, I know, but I'm tired beyond words of being asked to consider the needs of people who hate me and think their children need to be shielded from any idea that I might actually have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Those are precisely my thoughts - about Islamists.

MadisonMan said...

The authors, the publisher and the teachers that selected this book were not thinking “what a nice story” they were making a political statement.

That is absolute nonsense. The author saw a void in the market and the publisher thought they could exploit it for a quick buck. Welcome to America.

The teacher probably included the story because there's a child in her class with same-sex parents. I don't know that of course, but it's more likely, I think, than your make-a-political-statement.

Ann Althouse said...

Shouldn't it be "King and Prince"? There can't be 2 kings. One is obviously not holding the power. Queen Elizabeth's husband is not a king, he's a prince.

Michael Farris said...

King and Prince sounds a little too ... something. I think it would be King and Consort, the technical term for the spouse of a reigning monarch.

Queen actually refers to two different roles, a reigning monarch like Elizabeth or Beatrix of the Netherlands and the non-reigning wife (consort) of a king like Sophia of Spain.

King is pretty much only used for a reigning monarch, hence Victoria's disappointment when her consort husband was denied the title.

downtownlad said...

But the King's wife is the Queen, not the princess.

The title of the book should therefore be Queen & Queen.

downtownlad said...

I have no problem with breeders, be they gay or heterosexual. I have a problem with breeders who expect me to subsidize their children.


If you choose to have kids, please pay for them yourself. It is despicable that my hard earned money should be confiscated by welfare abusing individuals to subisidize their bratty children.

downtownlad said...

If you'd like to return to a time where the elderly quietly starved and the disabled needed to beg in the streets, feel free to argue straightforwardly for that.

Yes, I'll proudly argue for that. Social Security should be abolished immediately. If you didn't save for your retirement, you are a moron. And if you can't find friends or family to help you in your old age, they please tell me why I should help you?

As for the disabled - well isn't that what charity is for? I have no problem helping those who truly can't help themselves. But I don't want to FORCED to help those who are lazy and lacked foresight to save for retirement.

downtownlad said...

And I'll stop with the dismissive "breeder" comment when you guys stop with the anti-gay marriage amendments.

Geez - the first time I've ever heard anyone get offended by that term was on this thread. Every other straight person I've mentioned it to has laughed - because it is obvious it is sarcastic.

Then again - straight people do lack the sarcasm gene.

Ann Althouse said...

DTL: While you're at it, why don't you refer to women as "holes"? People love that. It's hilarious. The ones that don't laugh, they just don't have a sense of humor.

Ann Althouse said...

And what do we get to call you, so that we can be funny in your delightful style?

downtownlad said...

Is "breeder" really offensive?

If so I am honestly, genuinely surprised. 95% of the population reproduces and everyone is descended from a "breeder".

I find the term "hole" degrading, because it is MEANT to be degrading. Breeder to me is the equivalent of "honky". I'm white and have never been offended by the user of the term honky. I find it amusing.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Pogo: The reduction of the human to that of a mere animal is a disgusting tendency amongst ideologues, a method used to denigrate opponents.

I agree. The anti-gay forces use the gays-are-unnatural-because-they-don't-procreate-like-other-animals argument, an argument used to denigrate gay people. I was making precisely the point you claim to be making: that the likelihood of procreation is not a valid way to attack the relative virtue of humans--be they gay or straight. How they perform as parents is a more valid test.

downtownlad said...

And I use the term breeder in conversation almost entirely with my straight, single, female friend. One who has zero desire to have kids. She would like to get married though.

But she gets annoyed when people people automatically assume that she must be depressed because she doesn't have children. It is patronizing. Using the term breeder is her way of making fun of that lifestyle. As in "it's not for me".

Ann Althouse said...

DTL: It's offensive because you are reducing human beings to a biological function, which is why I'm likening it to calling women "holes." So I ask you, what would be the equivalent term for a gay man who does not intend to produce children? What is the biological function that I get to call you by? Because I care about parallelism.

nunzio said...

If I were King for just one day, I would give it all away.

Ann Althouse said...

DTL: You know very well that the term "breeder" is commonly used by homosexuals to refer to heterosexuals. It may also have the use you refer to, but you are disingenuous to pretend that it isn't a term of contempt aimed at heterosexuals. And as I said before, it's at cross-purposes with the gay marriage effort, because it represents the notion that gay people are superior because they do not become parents. You'll have to do more than simply deny this, because I won't believe you.

downtownlad said...

Ann,

Of course it started as a term aimed at heterosexuals. But I have gay friends with children, and yes, we do call them breeders. To their faces. It is not contempt when we call them that. If anything, it is acknowledgement of how far we've come, in that gay people can now be breeders too.

But I fail to see how it presents gay people as "superior" as you state. It's an acknowledgement that not all of us WANT to have kids. That is the assumption of most straight people, that gay people are unfortunate because we can't have children. By using the term breeder, it's implying that having kids is not appealing to all of us.

And it IS at cross-currents to the gay-marriage movement. I agree with you 100% there. But I am not the spokesperson for the gay marriage movement nor the gay community. Trust me, they wouldn't want me to be, as you would surely agree. I am the spokesperson for myself.

I know I should take the high road. But I don't. It's just not me. Never will be.

You said you believe in parallelism. What's the parallel word for "honky". It's not the N word.

DINK (Double Income, No kids) is the closest I can think of. But I'm single.

So I'll settle for SINK.

Aspasia M. said...

DTL,

& you're calling children "brats." That seems designed to insult people.

downtownlad said...

I am sure in theory that there are some children out there, at some moment in time, that were not brats.

I have yet to meet them though.

(Former brat)

SteveR said...

Sorry DTL you can be a SINK or a DINK without giving us a clue about your biological function. It would also be helpful (to the parallelism theme) if it were a term that was originally used by people of opposite functionality to degrade, no matter how casually and good natured its current use is.

downtownlad said...

"Non-breeder" is a good parallel word. Kind of boring though.

SteveR said...

Just tells us what you aren't, not what you are and never was degrading. Try again

Aspasia M. said...

DTL,

Ok: So let's summarize. Correct me if I've misunderstood anything:

1) We should take away social security away from elderly people, even if it is there only form of economic support. They should be abandoned in the street if they have no families to care for them.

(I assume that you know that many elderly people cannot work due to age-related problems and illnesses.)

2) If the parents of children cannot afford to pay for private school, they should not be provided with an education.

3) Children have no future role as a labor force or anything else in the nation, thus they can be discarded and ignored in public thought. (Why care for them if they're just a drain on society?)
-----

ok- so you're for kicking elderly widows onto the street and you don't care if kids get no education at all.

I assume you cannot be surprised by the response you got on the thread.

downtownlad said...

I'm sure you can make it degrading if you use it in the correct context.

For example.

"Sure, those non-breeders might dress well, but they contribute nothing to the future existence of mankind . . ."

downtownlad said...

Geoduck2,

You have my positions correct, but I think the outcome you predict is wrong. I am a strong libertarian. I do not believe in government welfare of anykind. It is counter-productive. My views on this subject have NOTHING to do with my being a non-breeder.
Society would be a much better place if social security and public schools were abolished. Children would care for their parents. Parents would treat their children better. People would value their education more. People would be responsible and save more. There would be LESS people out on the street. There would be LESS poverty.

downtownlad said...

And best of all, you wouldn't get these silly lawsuits over a gay fairy tale.

SteveR said...

You mean a non-breeder fairy tale

downtownlad said...

There. I knew you could come up with one!

I still think my "Queen and Queen" was more clever though.

downtownlad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
downtownlad said...

Just one last thought for the night. Since people truly are offended by the word breeder (I admit it - I'm shocked), I will refrain from the use of this term going forward. I really have no intention of degrading people. Mild jabs sure, but I do not wish to offend.

SteveR said...

It just didn't work for me though I tried. I guess I'm not good at this. All the formally offensive biologically indicative terms are still offensive albeit dated.

MadisonMan said...

& you're calling children "brats." That seems designed to insult people.

Mmmm. Bratwurst. I don't like the addition of beer with them this year though.

All kids are occasionally bratty, and hence brats. Mostly when they're tired or hungry, or when you have a headache. Thankfully, most parents (not breeders) educate their children out of this phase. In my experience, those who don't educate their children out of brattiness are most likely to take umbrage at others who try, as for example a school district.

Aspasia M. said...

Hmmm...

I've had friends call me a breeder - and it was funny, but it was funny because it was intentionally offensive.

When a friend calls one that, you know they do not mean it in a offensive way. But reducing someone to their reproductive function is, of course, offensive.
------
Downtownlad,

RE: getting rid of education for kids who can't afford to go to private schools and social security for elderly people who have no other income.

I say if you're going to dismantle the state, don't stop there. I certainly don't want to pay for the police and the prisons to protect you and your property from a very annoyed population. You should outlay for your own private security and pay to incarcerate people.

And if a bunch of kids, elderly people, and their annoyed family members come after you with torches and pitchforks, you figure out how to handle them.

(Just when you think people have learned what caused the French Revolution, they surprise you all over again.)

Joan said...

I vividly recall the "breeder" comments following me around at my former place of work, Perennially 2nd-biggest Software Corporation, when I was pregnant with my second child. It was bad enough that I had one kid, but then I'd gone and gotten knocked up again! The looks those people gave me! And most of them were straight. They just didn't get the kid thing. (This may have had something to do with the pervasive geek culture.) I can only imagine the paroxysms they would've had if I had still been employed there when I got pregnant with my third.

If you think breeder is really that bad, you could always start bandying sodomite around. I wouldn't recommend it, though.

SteveR said...

"Let them eat cake"

SteveR said...

*formerly* duh, my editor left early tonight.

downtownlad said...

Privatizing the police is not as far-fetched as it seems. Especially if people had the right to carry concealed weapons. But I am willing to consent to a small role for the state. Defense, Justice, Police, Firemen, etc.

But our nation did fine without Social Security and public schools for quite a while. The argument that society would collapse without them is just false.

Conservatives say they want control of their children's education when they are being taught liberal things. Liberals say they want control of their children's education when they want conservative things. The only solution is to give parents control of their children's schooling.

If public school was abolished, taxes would be much lower and people could afford this. Some would not be able to. Again - that's why we have charity.

Aspasia M. said...

Privatizing the police is not as far-fetched as it seems. Especially if people had the right to carry concealed weapons. But I am willing to consent to a small role for the state. Defense, Justice, Police, Firemen, etc.

But our nation did fine without Social Security and public schools for quite a while. The argument that society would collapse without them is just false.


Yep. We didn't have the police in the US until around the 1840s or 1850s depending on the different cities. And incarceration is real expensive. The higher the security, the more expensive it is.


However, one of the main reasons American cities instituted police forces were the small problem of multiple riots.

(The cities used to have a system of private prosecution. The justice of the peace was paid to do his job, and so was everybody else.)

I don't want to pay for jail time and the police to control all the kids who won't get any education.

The only solution is to give parents control of their children's schooling.

Did you only grow up around wealthy people or something?

It's like you've never met anyone who couldn't afford private school.

Do you really think charities, as they exist right now, could afford to send all the needy kids to school?

Aspasia M. said...

If public school was abolished, taxes would be much lower and people could afford this. Some would not be able to. Again - that's why we have charity.

How's this - you bring up an example of a state that has no educational system and state welfare system as a positive example.

Is there a nation that currently (or in the past) exists under these conditions that you would consider living in?

I'm curious if you have any evidence that these conditions would result in less poverty for the elderly and more educational opportunities for children.

downtownlad said...

If parents care about their kid's education, they could always home school them as a last resort.

If the parents don't care, then they are not going to succeed in public school anyway.

25% of kids drop out of school in this country anyway. I am quite confident that if schools were solely private, that 75% of them would still graduate.

I don't like the government. There is no competition and it tends to encourage the worst in people.

You need market forces to gain efficiency. Schools should be competing with each other for students.

PatCA said...

I came to this discussion late, but in shorthand: As usual, I agree with Bruce, feel bad for DTL and his defensive humor and for Elizabeth and her defensive anger, and realize issues such as these will never be solved because sexuality is personal--or at least it used to be. Enforcing an agenda will alienate good hearted people, the majority, and do nothing to change the hearts of the few boneheads left. So it feels good yet is self-defeating.

Next in line is Sheila Kuehl's bill to include gay history in all textbooks. Gay History textbook bill.

Should we then have chapters on important celibates, atheists, communists, philanderers...? Where does common sense end and PC-ness begin? Can't we just socialize kids not to beat up on little "Four Eyes" or the "Heather with Two Mommies"?

Aspasia M. said...

If parents care about their kid's education, they could always home school them as a last resort.

This assumes that a parent is capable of educating a kid. Can teach them how to read, advanced math, science, ect..

If the parents don't care, then they are not going to succeed in public school anyway.

You're not even going to give the kid a chance. My father was a National Merit Finalist. His father had a third grade education from Italy. He couldn't even read English.

I don't like the government. There is no competition and it tends to encourage the worst in people.

I don't particuarly like it either, but no doubt there are excellent public schools in the U.S. New Trier north of Chicago; Mercer Island in Washington State. And we know from other 1st world countries that the state can provide an excellent educational system.

Your philosphy leads to less mobility in a society. A child would be totally dependent upon his parent's economic circumstances for an education.

downtownlad said...

Here's a list of famous gay people. Pat wants to censor this information and make sure that kids don't learn about this. Why are you so scared of knowledge?

Again - this is why public schools should be abolished. Because they are afraid to teach the truth.

Alexander the Great
*Macedonian Ruler, 300 B.C.
Socrates
*Greek Philosopher, 400 B.C.
Sappho
*Greek Woman Poet, 600 B.C.
Hadrian
*Roman Emperor, 1st-2nd c.
Richard the Lionhearted
*English King, 12th c.
Saladin
*Sultan of Egypt and Syria
Desiderius Erasmus
*Dutch Monk, Philosopher
Francis Bacon
*English statesman, author
Frederick the Great
*King of Prussia
Lord Byron
*English poet, 18th c.
Walt Whitman
*U.S. poet, author, 19th c.
Oscar Wilde
*Irish author, 19th c.
Marcel Proust
*French author, 20th c.
Colette
*French author, 20th c.
Gertrude Stein
*U.S. poet, author, 20th c.
Alice B. Toklas
*U.S. author, 20th c.
Federico Garcia Lorca
*Spanish author, 20th c.
Cole Porter
*U.S. composer, 20th c.
Virginia Woolf
*English author, 20th c.
Leonard Bernstein
*U.S. composer, 20th c.
Pope Julius III
*1550-1555
T.E. Lawrence
*English soldier, author, 20th c.
Jean Cocteau
*French writer, director, 20th c.
Charles Laughton
*English actor, 20th c.
Marguerite Yourcenar
*Belgian author, 20th c.
Tennessee Williams
*U.S. Playwright, 20th c.
James Baldwin
*U.S. author, 20th c.
Andy Warhol
*U.S. artist, 20th c.
Michelangelo
*Italian artist, 15th c.
Leonardo Da Vinci
*Ital. Artist, scientist, 15th c.
Christopher Marlowe
*Eng. Playwright, 16th c.
Herman Melville
*U.S. author, 19th c.
Horatio Alger, Jr.
*U.S. author, 19th c.
Tchaikovsky
*Russian composer, 19th c.
Willa Cather
*U.S. author, 19th c.
Amy Lowell
*U.S. author, 19th & 20th c.
E.M. Forster
*English author, 20th c.
John M. Keynes
*English economist, 20th c.
Ludwig Wittgenstein
*Australian mathematician, 20th c.
Bessie Smith
*U.S. singer, 20th c.
Noel Coward
*English playwright, 20th c.
Christopher Isherwood
*English author, 20th c.
Pier Paolo Pasolini
*Italian film director, 20th c.
Yukio Mishima
*Japanese author, 20th c.
Eleanor Roosevelt
*U.S. stateswoman, 20th c.
Julius Caesar
*Roman Emperor, 100-44 B.C.
Augustus Caesar
*Roman Emperor
Harvey Milk
*U.S. politician, 20th c.
Bayard Rustin
*U.S. Civil Rights activist, 20th c.
James I
*English King, 16th-17th c.
Queen Anne
*English Queen, 18th c.
Marie Antoinette
*French Empress, 18th c.
Melissa Etheridge
*U.S. Rock Star, 20th c.
Pope Benedict IX
*1032-1044
May Sarton
*U.S. author, (1912 - 1995)
Edna Ferber
*U.S. author, 20th c.
Elton John
*English Rock Star, 20th c.
Margaret Fuller
*U.S. writer, educator, 20th c.
Montezuma II
*Aztec ruler, 16th c.
Peter the Great
*Russian Czar, 17th-18th c.
Langston Hughes
*U.S. author, 20th c.
Pope John XII
*955-964
Madame de Stael
*French writer, 17th-18th c.
Martina Navratilova
*U.S. tennis star, 20th c.
Greg Louganis
*U.S. Olympic swimmer, 20th c.
Billie Jean King
*U.S. tennis star, 20th c.
Roberta Achtenburg
*U.S. politician, 20th c.
Barney Frank
*U.S. Congressman, 20th c.
Gerry Studds
*U.S. Congressman, 20th c.
Hans Christian Andersen
*Danish author, 19th c.
Tom Dooley
*U.S. M.D. missionary, 20th c.
J. Edgar Hoover
*U.S. director of the FBI., 20th c.
Frida Kahlo
*Mexican artist, 20th c.
Suleiman the Magnificent
*Ottoman ruler, 15th c.
Rock Hudson
*U.S. actor, 20th c.
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
*Mexican author, 16th c.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
*U.S. author, 19th c.
Candace Gingrich
*Gay Rights activist, 20th c.
Margarethe Cammermeyer
*U.S. Army Colonel, 20th c.
Zoe Dunning
*U.S. Military Reservist, 20th c.
Tom Waddel
*U.S. M.D., Olympic star, 20th c.
Kate Millet
*U.S. author, 20th c.
Janis Joplin
*U.S. singer, 20th c.
Rudolf Nuryev
*Russian dancer, 20th c.
Waslaw Nijinsky
*Russian dancer, 20th c.
Ernst Röhm
*German Nazi leader, 20th c.
Dag Hammerskjold
*Swedish UN Secretary, 209th c.
Aristotle
*Greek philosopher, 384-322 B.C.
Paula Gunn Allen
*Native American author, 20th c.
Angela Davis
*U.S. political activist, 20th c.
June Jordan
*U.S. author, activist, 20th c.
Rainer Maria Rilke
*German poet, 20th c.
James Dean
*U.S. actor, 20th c.
Montgomery Clift
*U.S. actor, 20th c.
Baron VonSteuben
*German General, Valley Forge
Edward II
*English King, 14th c.

downtownlad said...

Kids learn about advanced math and science in public schools?

What school would that be? Maybe Stuyvesant or Bronx Science, but those are charter schools and they only let the best students in.

As soon as you let in the medicore students, the vast middle, assignments get dumbed down.

I didn't learn about algebra until 7th grade and Calculus until 12th. That is insane. Both subjects are quite simple. There is absolutely no reason that all advanced students shouldn't be learning algebra in 4th grade and calculus by the 9th. But public schools can't do that, because smart kids are just considered a nuisance.

As for dumb kids - they'd be better off with an apprenticeship. Will keep them away from drugs.

PatCA said...

It's notable that it was very easy for you to compile this list, even if some of the names on the list may be disputed, so it's hardly "censored" that there are gay people in the world. But again, your contempt for the rest of the us outside your world is obvious (and leads nowhere in any debate) so g'night.

Aspasia M. said...

Kids learn about advanced math and science in public schools?

And you think all parents can teach children advanced Math and Science?

What school would that be? Maybe Stuyvesant or Bronx Science, but those are charter schools and they only let the best students in.

Public schools? 1) Mercer Island High School, Washington State; New Trier, Ill.; Glenbrook North, Ill.

These are not charter schools.

As soon as you let in the medicore students, the vast middle, assignments get dumbed down.

So we shouldn't educate them?

I didn't learn about algebra until 7th grade and Calculus until 12th. That is insane. Both subjects are quite simple. There is absolutely no reason that all advanced students shouldn't be learning algebra in 4th grade and calculus by the 9th. But public schools can't do that, because smart kids are just considered a nuisance.

By 12th grade, if a high school student has a good mastery of Calculus they are in a good position for advanced Math at University.

What do you want? To teach theoretical statistics, linear & matrix algebra, and mathematical analysis in high school? I'm fine with that if the students have mastered the prerequistite Math, but you're going to have to hire more math teachers. And those math teachers are going to cost money. They don't even teach this stuff at Exeter.

As for dumb kids - they'd be better off with an apprenticeship.

Are they "dumb" because they didn't have access to any education? After you've removed all avenues of school to them by privatizing it?

What are you going to do about kids like my father? His father was a brick layer with a 3rd grade education in Italy. He was illiterate in English.

Yet my father was able to go to an Ivy League school because he got a good education.

You would have what? Indentured my father as an apprentice and called it a day.

Joseph Hovsep said...

"you are disingenuous to pretend that it isn't a term of contempt aimed at heterosexuals"

"it represents the notion that gay people are superior because they do not become parents"


It seems other people have had very different experiences with use of the term breeder. I understand that it reduces people to biological functions, but its roots are defensive: gay people have traditionally be demonized by reducing them to their biological functions so they turned that same characterization on its head. In my experience, the term breeder is used in defensive, playful, self-depracating humor. I'm sure it can be used to suggest gay people are superior to straight people, but I have never, ever gotten that impression until today and it frankly feels absurd to defend against that suggestion.

Joan says that straight coworkers dismissively called her a breeder when she was pregnant. Perhaps the term is used differently and more offensively by straight childless people? I haven't noticed people looking down on those who have kids. Quite the opposite. It seems there's a lot of pressure to have kids once you're married and settled down.

MadisonMan said...

But our nation did fine without Social Security and public schools for quite a while. The argument that society would collapse without them is just false.

American Society is a tad different than it was back when there were no public schools. Or is everyone here living on a farm and taking a break from chores and I just don't know it? Society would not collapse if social security and public schools were abolished. But it would change in unknown ways. The unknown makes investors nervous, and is generally bad for the economy.

The only solution is to give parents control of their children's schooling.

Parents do have control over their children's schooling. Why, here in Madison, we just had school board elections. I am free to meet with my kids' principals about curriculum concerns, and they listen. I have 3 or 4 private schools in town I can choose from. I could send my kids to boarding school -- and since I make less than $140K per year, I'd even qualify for tuition help at Exeter!

I think, DTL, that if you had children, you would recognize just how much control you do have.

The problem this story highlights is that inflexible people want the world to bend around them. It doesn't work that way.

downtownlad said...

Madison Man - I'm not being inflexible. I recognize that public schools exist. My position is that we live in a democracy and if a school wants to read King and King, they can, and tough luck to the people who got offended. Lots of people are offended by different things and we can't all cow-tow to their concerns. If you don't like it, move to another town, send your kids to private school, or home school them.

I'm tired of debates like this occupying the national agenda. If we abolished public schools we wouldn't have to hear about this crap anymore. And if we have a few indentured servants because of that, that is a price definitely worth paying.

Michael Farris said...

DTL, if that's really you, be careful what you wish for. Gay people (at least men) do better in urban environments and urban environments do better with a non-trivial amount of government.

The practical reality of urban environments with no government are somewhat different from Libertarian pipedreams, unless you think Mogadishu or Bogota or whatever are good places to live.
And the Italians have a word for private police - mafia.

Getting back to the subject at hand, if straight parents have no right to protest King and King then gay parents have no right to protest the ex-gay children's books that are coming (if I know the Christian Right as well as I think I do)? Are you ready for "How Heather's One Mommy Got Her Straight Groove Back (and Saved)"? For the record, I think that book would belong in the library with King and King.

Michael Farris said...

"I'm tired of debates like this occupying the national agenda. If we abolished public schools we wouldn't have to hear about this crap anymore."

Lots of folks feel the same about gay rights and longingly think: "If we just could bring back (and enforce!) sodomy laws, we wouldn't have to hear about this crap anymore."

Paying attention to other people's problems and concerns is the price for having them return the favor, unless you're a declared free-rider.

Fitz said...

DTL.

Your list of famous homosexuals highlights the problem of King & King and the potential of the homosexual agenda for this nations public schools. 95% of your list is complete speculation, presents no context for the supposed homosexuality, and would be laughed at by any competent historian. This represents the possibilities for a politicized agenda in our schools, for which King & King is only a prelude.

“He who controls the past controls the future” K.M.

Cousin Don said...

downtownlad,

The problem in Massachusetts is that "gay marriage" is legal because of a few judges and has never been allowed to be put before the electorate.

Our judges are not elected and there is very little in Massachusetts State Law that allows the electorate any influence over the judiciary even through their elected official.

In Lexington, MA these parents have no choice but to send their children to a private school since all the public school is doing is teaching the laws of the land.

Unfortunately, the laws, in this case, were not made by the people or their elected representatives but by a split decision on the appointed Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Heck, in Masssachusetts a vote on gay marriage might even turn out to be for it. Most polls have been fairly split down the middle, so why not let it come to a vote?

Wouldn't that be an even bigger win and affirmation of the gay lifestyle than a judicial order?

Aspasia M. said...

And if we have a few indentured servants because of that, that is a price definitely worth paying.

ok. I give up.

downtownlad said...

Michael,

Sodomy laws ARE being enforced. The Bush administration had three young men imprisoned just a few weeks ago for having gay sex. Are people even aware of that???? They plead guilty to sodomy and are in jail as we speak.

I'm a libertarian because I don't like the government regulating my private life. I realize that there are lots of people that don't like gay people. That's fine. But they can live their life and I can live mine.

I just get annoyed when they try to dictate how I live my life, by outlawing gay sex, etc. I do NOT want a theocracy.

Ann Althouse said...

DTL: "The Bush administration had three young men imprisoned just a few weeks ago for having gay sex."

That is on its face unbelievable. Provide a link.

downtownlad said...

http://www.gaynz.com/news/default.asp?dismode=article&artid=3435

http://www.fayettevillenc.com/article?id=232102

"Pfc. Richard Ashley was the first soldier convicted. He pleaded guilty Thursday to sodomy, conduct detrimental to the Army and using an unauthorized prescription drug."

Ann Althouse said...

And "One married soldier was also charged with adultery."

This is within the military. Context is pretty damned important here.

Jennifer said...

DTL: These are guys here in the 82nd Airborne for crying out loud. Not civilians. This is military law not the law of the land.

And they were in trouble for producing porn while in uniform.

You might also note that at least Pvt Mullen was only found guilty of conduct detrimental and drug abuse. He didn't even participate in any gay sex. And he is being imprisoned for his actions.

downtownlad said...

Why are soldiers who perform in straight porn not prosecuted? If you want, I can provide you to links of porn sites where straight soldiers are performing.

I never said it was unconstitutional. But it's pathetic that our government is more concerned with stamping out gay sex than they are with tracking down Al Queada. And THAT context is entirely relevant.

As a New Yorker, I can easily attest than George Bush failed to protect this city in 2001. And since he thinks it is more important to protect this country from gay porn than terrorists, he will be entirely to blame for the next terrorist attack.

downtownlad said...

Jennifer - Pvt Mullen performed for a gay porn site. That is why he is being prosecuted.

The government is monitoring gay porn sites to see if soldiers are performing there.

As I stated before - soldiers are performing on straight porn sites too. But the government chooses to ignore those sites.

downtownlad said...

Here's some color on what the FBI thinks about the "war on porn".

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/19/AR2005091901570.html

""I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

And yes - your tax money is now paying for the imprisonment of soldiers who had gay sex.

I feel so much safer now.

Michael Farris said...

Yes, yes, yes. The US Military is scared sh*tless of gay folks. I blame Clinton, he could have changed things but he caved. To expect anything forward thinking from Bush in this regard would be insane.

But that's a different topic that doesn't have a whole lot to do with school issues here and how much clout parents should have in determining curricula. That issue is even more interesting when applied to non-sex issues (though those are the ones that generate comments).

ID has been a loser for fundamentalists so far but I don't expect them to give up on their quest to replace science classes with the book of genesis anytime soon.

downtownlad said...

I agree it's getting off topic.

But as a New Yorker, it annoys me terribly. We are supposed to be fighting a war.

The puritans need to get a life. They need to start focusing on their own sex-life and stop obsessing about others.

Jennifer said...

Well, you may have me there, DTL.

Some googling reveals that performing in gay porn and possessing child porn seem to be punished by the Army but not regular porn. Perhaps it just doesn't make the news.

With some of the things I've seen soldiers punished for, I would be really surprised if a commander would be ok with his soldier making porn in uniform, like these guys did.

I'm curious though what makes you say the government was monitoring gay porn sites. The buzz around here is that the word got out to another soldier in the unit and he took the info to the chain of command.

Michael Farris said...

"We are supposed to be fighting a war."

(inner monologue to myself: don't take the bait, don't take the bait, don't take the bait, don't take the bait ... ah hell)

"supposed to be" is the operative phrase here.

Fitz said...

Just more hide the ball. We are on the cusp here of a very important subject that is not going to go away anytime soon. It already resonates throughout the country in everything from student led “days of silence” to supposed “ant-bullying” initiatives – all the way to express curricula like the King & King episode.

The question is (& I believe it’s a fair one) “Ought we be using the public schools to normalize homosexuality?”

Talk of religious freedom is a mere secondary consideration. The operative question needs to be answered first. Its easy to see why some would avoid expressly dealing with it.

Ann Althouse said...

"“ant-bullying” initiatives"

One of my all-time favorite typos.

Fitz said...

Well, I suppose the ant’s are not treated very well; constantly stepped on without apology or even notice - and never welcomed at picnics.

I’m also concerned with the “anti-bullying” initiatives.

Michael Farris said...

"The question is (& I believe it’s a fair one) “Ought we be using the public schools to normalize homosexuality?”"

I sort of agree that that's the question, what are the possible answers?

1. yes (in which case carry on with King and King II: Adopting an Heir)
2. no (in what case new questions arise:
-"Ought we be using the public schools to stigmatize homosexuality?"
-"Ought we try to ignore homosexuality in the public schools?"

I really don't think there's much much other choice than those three and they're all political and partisan. Purposely excluding all things concerned with homosexuality is in an of itself just as political as using the schools to normalize or stigmatize.

Given that in today's (and tomorrow's) world the topic is going to come up, what should school children be told? Until convinced otherwise I'm in favor of the legal truth: It's a legal practice and gay people can and do set up households and can and do raise children (though the majority at present don't); that in the US they're mostly forbidden to legalize their relationships (though this is possible in some countries) and many, maybe most (but not all) religious traditions disapprove to varying degrees (from death sentences to vague harrumphing) for varying reasons (and give some of those). I think children can handle that set of facts reasonably well and make their own conclusions though parts may seem to be hypocritical or nonsensical or at cross purposes. They get enough examples of that from the grown up world, one more should overburden them.

Michael Farris said...

"one more should overburden them."

that should be "one more should NOT overburden them."

Joan said...

Michael Farris, you have repeated that there are three things public school curricula can do with respect to homosexuality: 1)support it 2) villify it or 3) ignore it. Choosing any one of these methods -- and apparently you believe there is no other approach possible -- is making a political statement.

I disagree, because there is another approach possible, and it's the only one that makes any sense at all: present homosexuality as a fact, in the appropriate context. The majority of the time, public school classes cover subjects in which any discussion of sexuality and orientation issues is completely inappropriate. Ignoring homosexuality in teaching reading, writing, math, science, history, geography, art, and music is not making a political statement. It's teaching the subject without getting entangled in details that will overwhelm beginners in the subject. Obviously there are times when the study of history, literature, art, and music may touch upon sexuality issues, but for grade school children, that is beyond their level.

There are contexts in which such discussion is appropriate, at the jr high and high school levels, in sociology classes or other classes looking at family structures. But there's no reason at all to choose a book with such controversial subject matter for a second grader reader -- unless you have a political agenda, and choose to impose it on your students.

Michael Farris said...

"I disagree, because there is another approach possible, and it's the only one that makes any sense at all: present homosexuality as a fact, in the appropriate context."

Actually, we agree in the big principles. When I say 'support' I don't mean that the curriculum should be prostelytizing for homosexuality (which I don't think anyone's proposed) , just that it's presented, as you put it, as a fact (as opposed to a great evil) and briefly mentioning it's legal status and a variety of religious attitudes. I think that approach is de facto support (since anti-gay politics requires a lot of obfuscation and smoke and mirrors).

My other comment aside, I've repeatedly agreed that in most places, I think King and King isn't necessarily appropriate for second grade (though second grade might not be to early to mention it in places where gay parents are a visible minority, as in parts of Massachusetts).

Marghlar said...

Joan:

I did not mean to suggest that opposition to gay marriage is necessarily driven by homophobia. But I don't think that opposition to the use of this storybook is necessarily all about opposing legal recognition for same sex marriage. I'd posit that most of the uproar would still persist even if the marriage ceremony was removed from this book.

I don't think that this is a debate about whether the state should extend marriage benefits to gay relationships. I think this is a debate about whether schools can properly use teaching materials that tell stories about the fact that sometimes men fall in love with each other and want to spend their lives together. We tell such stories in fairy tales all the time, about straight couples. So the question isn't whether we think its right for story-time to include depictions of romantic love, but whether we will require the exclusion of gay relationships from such stories.

So, yes, I have trouble understanding what principle underlies objections to the use of this story, other than a hostility towards letting kids know that gay relationships can be loving and worthwhile. I'm not sure I'd call that homophobia, but I don't think its an attitude I approve of.

I just don't think that using this material necessarily constitutes a "political statement." A fair number of kids in the MA school system are going to discover that they are gay as they reach puberty. It does a lot of good to propogate tolerant messages to the classmates of these students, to help mitigate the cruelty and violence that are so often encountered by gay teenagers.

Joan said...

Marghlar, my friend! You say:the question isn't whether we think its right for story-time to include depictions of romantic love, but whether we will require the exclusion of gay relationships from such stories. and then: I have trouble understanding what principle underlies objections to the use of this story, other than a hostility towards letting kids know that gay relationships can be loving and worthwhile.

First off, this fractured fairy tale is completely bogus, because any heir to the throne that's being forced to marry is in that position for the sole purpose of producing an heir and continuing the royal line, which would be a biological impossiblity for King & King. Since most royal families don't look kindly on letting children born out of wedlock take the throne, the whole situation is absurd. I wouldn't choose this book simply for its fundamental disconnect with reality: not that 2 men can fall in love and want to be together forever, but that it thinks that 2 male royals, responsible for continuing their bloodlines, could marry and everyone would be happy with that outcome. It just doesn't scan, and it has been irritating me since the very first time I heard about this kerfuffle.

Now, as to the substance of your remarks. I do think the question about treatments of romantic love during storytime is a valid one. As a parent I would be annoyed if my kids were read a story in which the main characters fall in love and decide to shack up instead of getting married, because "nobody does that anymore." I'm already annoyed by a number of recurring storylines in programming aimed at school-age children. And I'm disturbed by the thought that we are not allowed to dislike anything anymore.

Do you really think that reading kids a book like King & King will make them more tolerant towards gay teens later in life? I doubt it. The kids that are obnoxious bullies will do whatever they can to make others miserable regardless of the programming they are exposed to. I mentioned above the Character Counts program at my kids' school. It focuses on respect for everyone, regardless of their beliefs. I think that's the right attitude to teach.

I don't think you can boil this issue down to simple hostility towards teaching that gay relationships can be successful. One problem with "King & King" is that it was selected over so many other stories. What story was jettisoned to make room for it in the curriculum? Another issue is the age at which this story was introduced. Another issue was the lack of notice to the parents so they could discuss the issue with their children and understand how the school presented it, and then do whatever damage control they felt was necessary. It is very difficult for a parent when a topic like this comes out of the blue. (I had a similar problem last year.)

Finally, with this age group, it's fascinating to present them with material and then see what they get out of it. I recently spoke at my kids' school to the 80-odd third graders, about being a writer. I talked about where I get my ideas for my columns, and the process I go through, etc. The kids were polite and asked great questions, but the topic that generated the most interest was the recipe from my first column, Cheese Crunchies. Once they came up, we could not get off them! It was funny how they fixated on that. I can only imagine, giving the descriptions I've read of the bad illustrations in this book, what the kids would focus on in this story.

I think it's unfair to attribute opposition to the use of a recognizably bad book to homophobia. In most fairy tales, gender roles are taken for granted and there is no overt reference to sexuality. If a prince dislikes a princess it's because she's mean or vain, not because she's a woman. Sexuality really doesn't enter into the discussion at all. (We'll just keep right on ignoring "Little Red Riding Hood" for now, OK?) I, like most parents, think it's fine that sexuality just doesn't come up. I'm constantly struggling to keep my kids away from precocious sexual situations. When little kids play house, they don't pretend to have sex, they pretend to cook and clean and feed their baby dolls. That's what being married means to them. "King & King" seems to strip all that away and boil marriage down to what gender person you want to have sex with, especially since the Prince apparently falls for the first available royal male he meets. In a word: Ew.

I wouldn't my kids reading this book at school. But I didn't want my son reading about a story about a kid whose mom thinks his dad is having an affair, either. There's a time and a place for discussing sexuality and gender issues, and second grade story time isn't it.

Pogo said...

Joan has it right. She points to the single salient question here:
What are schools for?

I believe the primary function of grade school is the teaching of basic literacy in English and math. While some basic citizenship is required, this should be largely limited to learning about deference to authority and how our government works.

It appears however that others believe that schools serve some other primary purpose, that of the recycled Sixties notion of "social justice". As a result, those very basic tasks of reading, writing, and arithmetic are jettisoned in favor of neo-Marxist class oppression indoctrinations.

I wouldn't mind having a discussion about what role schools might play in "solving" the problems of tolerance and diversity, if only they were already successful at their core task. But they are not.

Some writers here clearly hold that their own parochial agenda (here: being gay) supersedes the needs of grade school students. I disagree. They have yet to ask themselves, What are schools for?

Michael Farris said...

"First off, this fractured fairy tale is completely bogus, because any heir to the throne that's being forced to marry is in that position for the sole purpose of producing an heir and continuing the royal line,"

Are you one of those offended by the term 'breeder'?

I'll agree that the term has mostly outlived its usefulness (if it ever had any), but when royalty enters the picture, the label is almost entirely appropriate.

That said, Cinderella and similar fairytales end before the unglamorous, stressful business of producing a son gets underway as well (never mind what would happen to Cinderella if she turned out to be sterile or had just girls....)

Fitz said...

I pointed out above the way this post and most news articles seem to be trying to “hide the ball” as to the real issue presented by King & King. I go on to state the issue as…

(1) “Ought we be using the public schools to normalize homosexuality?”

Michael Farris expands on my point and adds (two other possibilities)

(2)-"Ought we be using the public schools to stigmatize homosexuality?"
(3)-"Ought we try to ignore homosexuality in the public schools?"

I believe this is an exhaustive list.
Given that the opposite of teaching youths that homosexuality is good, is teaching that it is bad, I support option number three. Its illustrative to note that when one side (social conservatives) start their argument advocating basically against #1 and tacitly in favor of #3, they end up on the defense. Perhaps it would be strategically better if they advocated strongly for #2, and therefore the #1 people would be forced to except #3 as the reasonable approach that it is.

AlaskaJack said...

Fitz Alert! Readers beware of jesuitical logic; it can be devastating.

Michael Farris said...

Actually, I'd say there are four possibilities (I got sidetracked by Joan equating normalizing and supporting.

(1) Use the public schools to actively support homosexuality.
(2)-Use the public schools to actively stigmatize homosexuality.
(3)-Ignore homosexuality in public schools as much as humanly possible.
(4)-Present homosexuality as a fact of human sexuality (including legal status and religious attitudes toward it) when appropriate.

I'd support number four partly because I think it's the most honest.

Joe Baby said...

Sad. We continue to wage our battle of values over the heads of kids trying to get an education. I think the general concerns over bullying/intimidation could be dealt with by administrators who deal swiftly and harshly with those who are out of line, but those days are over.

Public schools aren't failing -- they have failed. Yet we will continue to argue, stumbling amidst the ruins and yelling at those with shovels.

Joan said...

Joe Baby, don't be so negative. My kids attend a public charter school and we are thrilled with the staff, curriculum, and environment. No school is perfect, but I have a lot of choices, both public and private, and I'm very happy with the decision we made.

It's true a lot of schools are floundering. But I refuse to believe that my kids' school is the only one in the country that's accomplishing its primary mission, educating children, and doing a good job at it.

Marghlar said...

The thing is, I think that a book such as King and King basically exists in the fourth category. It isn't teaching kids that they ought to be gay, merely that some people are, and those people can fall in love and settle down just like anybody else.

That's largely a descriptive statement, told in fairy tale form. Ergo, I think that the category error being made is the assertion that this amounts to gay advocacy in the schools. I'd say that all it represents is inclusion of gay experiences among the universe of stories presented to kids.

Marghlar said...

Joan,

Princes don't marry poor women either, but we tell that fairy tale all the time. Fairy tales aren't about promulgating an accurate depiction of royal life -- if they were, they'd have almost no relevance for children growing up in a democracy. Rather, they are a fanciful way to talk about the world around us, and teach kids lessons about the world around them.

As far as the book's quality, I haven't read it, so I can't say. I'd say that poor writing quality or such is a fine reason not to use it. But I don't think that is what this is really about. I also find it interesting that you view a preference for same-sex partners as inherently sexualized -- why can't it just be that this prince loves that person, and not the princesses? None of these stories are explaining the mechanics -- why is a heterosexual love story not inherently sexual, while a homosexual love story is? I don't get it.

As far as advance notice to the parents goes, I have no problem with that.

Ann Althouse said...

Marghlar: "It isn't teaching kids that they ought to be gay, merely that some people are, and those people can fall in love and settle down just like anybody else."

But no one ever argues that someone OUGHT to be gay. The strong gay rights position is simply that it's fine to be gay if that's way you feel inclined toward. The book is clearly promoting that position, and a school that uses it clearly has the agenda of normalizing homosexuality.

The views of traditional parents are being opposed, and they feel quite aggrieved.

Cousin Don said...

I still think the big point and fact everyone is missing is that gay marriage is the law of the land in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Therefore, no one has the grounds to say that the law can't be taught in school.

This book does not talk about sex merely marriage so; therefore, it does not really violate what is appropriate for second graders.

It doesn't matter what some people believe or their religions teach them anymore b/c in Lexington and the rest of Massachusetts gay marriage is legal.

I am still trying to figure out what is going to happen between the powerful Catholic Church presence in Boston and the State House when speaking out against gay marriage becomes a hate crime, but that is a different discussion topic.

Even my mother, who is as liberal and tolerant as they come unlike her son, was a bit surprised to read the Boston Sunday Globe and come across the announcements page with the picture of engaged and married same sex couples. It is a bit of a culture shock and people will take awhile to fully come to terms with it.

And although on some base level I don't like it, I'm intelligent enough to realize that gay marriage will soon become legal in more states than just Massachusetts. I still wish that it had become legal through a vote and not the courts, because then I'd be more willing to see it as the will of the majority of the people.

Ann Althouse said...

Cousin Don said "I still think the big point and fact everyone is missing is that gay marriage is the law of the land in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Divorce is legally permitted in Massachusetts. Does that mean a parent shouldn't object if schools present divorce in a positive light. Adultery, fornication -- both legal. Just fine to teach that these are perfectly acceptable. All sorts of things are legal -- lying to your friends, insulting your children, caring nothing for the happiness of other people. Making something legal doesn't mean that it's been accepted as good and that children ought to be taught that it's good!

Hunter said...

To get back to the original question, short answer: no, schools should not be catering to parents with "traditional values." (Which is a term that has itself become pretty much meaningless, except as a code -- for those who think in codes.)

Among their other functions, schools teach wider social norms and ideals. It's called "transmission of culture" and is at the core of education. In this case, it involves the validity of same-sex relationships, which in Massachusetts have legal support.

If parents don't agree with the norms and ideals being taught in school, they can do what my parents did: sit their kids down and say, "Although some people believe in this, we don't because. . . ." This may be a real stretch for some people: it involves acknowledging that not everyone believes the same thing, and that we live under the rule of civil law. (In theory.)

No, I don't think parents should be able to opt out of any lessons they don't personally agree with -- I think they should take on the responsibility of explaining to their kids why they don't agree with it.

Look at it this way: if you believe the earth is flat, should you be able to yank your kid out of geography class?

AlaskaJack said...

Hunter: "...schools (should) teach wider social norms and ideals."

What does "wider" mean?

How does one determine whether a given social norm or ideal is "wider"?

Who is to determine for the rest of us whether a given social norm or ideal is "wider"?

Joan said...

Hunter: we know the earth is round, and can prove it. If we were talking about a matter-of-fact, there wouldn't be any controversy.

Marghlar: I don't know if I generally view a preference for same-sex partners as inherently sexualized, but I certainly do in this case. The Prince himself says, "I never cared much for Princesses," while his pageboy winks. It's pretty clear here that the Prince just doesn't like girls -- but then he's instantly happy with the first like-minded Prince he meets. That seems to boil everything down to whether or not your partner has the right plumbing.

I took a look at this book over on Amazon, and while the illustrations have some merit -- the backgrounds are cute -- the content is suspect from start to finish. The Queen wants her son to get married because she's tired of being Queen. The son does nothing but lay around the castle, anyway, but now he's fit to rule? The wedding invitation concludes with this exhortation: Bring lots of presents!

For confirmation that these authors are just a bit... off, I submit the sequel, "King & King & Family". The two kings go on their honeymoon, and a little girl stows away in their luggage. When they get home and find her, they decide to keep her. Let's hear it for kidnapping as a way to build a family! There's a lot of twisted thinking going on here, and not all of it has to do with sexuality.

Marghlar said...

Ann said: But no one ever argues that someone OUGHT to be gay. The strong gay rights position is simply that it's fine to be gay if that's way you feel inclined toward. The book is clearly promoting that position, and a school that uses it clearly has the agenda of normalizing homosexuality.

And Joan said: If we were talking about a matter-of-fact, there wouldn't be any controversy.

It is a fact that some people love and are attracted to members of their own gender, and not to persons of a different gender. It is a fact that some such people settle down, and form happy, loving relationships. That isn't an argument or an opinion, it is a fact. I am staying at the house of two such people as I write this.

So, by portraying the formation of a happy gay relationship, is the book making an argument? I'm not sure that it is, for the most part. Sure, you can draw a lot of inferences from it -- that since this makes some people happy, and doesn't seem to cause much harm, it should be permitted -- but telling a tale in which something like this is permitted is just describing a state of affairs that actually exists in the world. Nothing prevents parents like Joan from explaining her concerns about the possible social effects of gay relationships to her children, to counteract any positive inferences that the kids might draw.

Ann Althouse said...

Marghlar: "It is a fact that some people love and are attracted to members of their own gender, and not to persons of a different gender. It is a fact that some such people settle down, and form happy, loving relationships. That isn't an argument or an opinion, it is a fact."

It's not the fact of homosexuality that I said the book was promoting, it's the belief that it is perfectly fine to be homosexual. That is not a fact, but a subject of great controversy.

Joan said...

Thanks, Ann, for expanding on my "matter-of-fact" comment as I had originally intended.

I'm sure you're aware, Marghlar, that there is a fair amount of data that has been put forth that shows that it's not perfectly fine to practice homosexuality. Higher incidences of STDs, suicide, risky behavior, and lower life expectancies are among the statistics cited. Please note:I am not saying this data is accurate, since as far as I can tell, none of it has been collected in a rigorous manner. I think it would be very difficult to collect this data and verify it -- but I also think it would be useful data to have. I know that not all homosexuals engage in promiscuous behavior, but it seems that many do, and promiscuity in itself is risky.

I think about all the legal things we tell our kids not to do, like smoking or drinking alcohol. I think just about anyone would be upset if a pro-smoking story showed up in a 2nd grade reader, or on a high school reading list, for that matter. For a good portion of the population, homosexual behavior is not just immoral, it's dangerous. Why should such people sit back and shut up when the school is telling their kids that dangerous behavior is OK?

Marghlar said...

Ann and Joan: I disagree that this story is making an argument -- that this is something you should do.

Rather, it is showing an instance in which people had a nice time doing this thing. That might support an inference that doing so is a good thing to do, but that is a generalization from a single case, and not an argument made within the story as far as I can see.

It is a fact that some gay people have a good experience being gay -- do either of you really dispute that? So all this story does is show an instance of this factual scenario. You both seem to be assuming that kids can't be taught the problems with generalizing from a single fictitious example, or that Joan's concerns can't be separately communicated to kids.

Now, I agree with you that just because something is a fact, it need not be communicated to children, if it is likely to lead to problemmatic behaviors. Ergo, Joan's smoking example. However, I don't believe that being gay is a choice for most people in the same way that smoking is. Nor do I think that a story like this will significantly change the likelihood that an adolescent will discover that they are gay.

The propsect of harm coming from this story requires believing that it is likely to make straight kids gay (which I doubt) and that being gay, in and of itself, will cause these kids harm. I doubt both premises.

Lastly, Joan, I never suggested that you should "sit back and shut up" if you disagree with a school board re: appropriate curriculum. By all means, complain, petition, support candidates who agree with you, or run yourself. Make this a campaign issue -- I have no problem with that. But if the majority disagrees with you, I don't think this is an appropriate topic for court intervention.

Ann Althouse said...

Marghlar: I stand by what I wrote. This story and its use in school is obviously meant to promote the normalization of homosexuality. I don't think the concern is that the story will make anyone gay. Traditionalists want to teach their children that it is wrong to pursue an inclination toward gay sex. Teaching kids that homosexuality is perfectly fine thus goes against the way they want to bring up their children. I think all of this is quite clear.

Joan said...

Marghlar, I think these particular parents turned to the court when the school administrators were intractable. Certainly there are many avenues to be explored before filing a suit, and it seems that they tried those first. Ann noted that there is a state law that requires parental notification of such topics so parents can opt their kids out, and these parents were denied that. If those are the facts, it would seem to me that they have a decent case. From a common sense perspective, I think we agree that all would hope it wouldn't escalate like this.

I've been meaning to link to Maggie Gallagher's latest article, Banned in Boston. It brings up a lot of issues all relating to the legalization of same-sex marriage. If Gallagher and those she interviewed are right, this case is just one of the first drops in a potential deluge of lawsuits.

Cousin Don said...

Prof. Althouse,

I would argue that divorce is already taught to be perfectly normal and in certain cases even good.

My generation was indoctrined not to treat divorce as a big deal. As a matter of fact, much like "Brokeback Mountain" is today, I would say "Kramer vs. Kramer" was the movie equivalent for divorce. It didn't necessarily say it was a good thing but it say this is a normal part of society.

Of course, divorce was legal for a long time before it had become an accepted part of society. As matter of fact, the Catholic Church still doesn't permit divorce, but it has become a part of American society with very little stigma attached to it. But the comparison breaks down because divorced people aren't considered a minority group fighting for their rights.

Now your other two examples (fornication and adultery)I believe fall out of the boundaries of appropriateness for second graders. But I and many others were definitely taught in middle school to see Hester Prynne as a sympathetic even heroic character.

Lying, while not always illegal, definitely can be, especially, when it results in fraud. Insulting your children can also be prosecuted when it is deemed abusive. Our laws do have a moral underpinning even in Massachusetts;)

I would bet that gay marriage follows a similar arc as divorce and becomes more and more accepted as time goes by.

Legalization of gay marriage and allowing gay couples to adopt are two a big steps along this way.

The genie is already out of the bottle on gay marriage, and this genie looks like Robin Williams wearing Barbara Eden's outfit.

Ann Althouse said...

Don: My point is entirely about respecting parents as they make decisions about how to raise their children. The respect doesn't go on forever. I myself support gay rights. But I don't like to see this kind of aggressive indoctrination that is such an affront to parents with traditional values.

My point is not about predicting how successful the gay rights movement will be (or should be). It's about relating to real parents who are compelled to send their children to school and really struggling with it.

Marghlar said...

Ann, I'd agree that giving parents choices is important, and I don't have a problem with this suit to the extent that it seeks prior notice (under state law -- I think the constitutional claim is crap). If parents would prefer to know in advance, so they can keep their kids home that day, that's dandy by me.

But I think that characterizing this story as "indoctrination" is a tad extreme. To me, it just seems inclusive.

Ann Althouse said...

Marghlar: I know it's going to seem as though I'm just here to disagree with you, even when you're trying to agree with me, but I have to say that I don't think the lawsuit should succeed. I simply want the schools to volunarily show respect for the parents' grievance.

Michael Farris said...

"I simply want the schools to volunarily show respect for the parents' grievance."

How? What exactly do you propose that they do?

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