by Karen R. Effrem, MD
Politico’s Morning Education recently discussed the efforts of a California education committee to comply with a 2011 state law requiring that social studies textbooks teach about “the role and contributions of” eight different identity groups including “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans…and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America.”
The law also prohibits the adoption of:
…any textbooks or other instructional materials for use in the public schools that contain any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation…
This highly subjective statute is the latest in a long line of California laws that undermine parental rights and authority and wade deeply into identity group politics. This will base the study of history not on achievements, but on membership in some identity group, totally undermining the concept of E pluribus unum – “Out of many, one.”
Among many concerning items, Politico quoted a second grade textbook that normalizes every kind of family structure:
“Different Kinds of Families” is a section title in a second-grade textbook [pay wall] by Teachers’ Curriculum Institute that includes a photo of two moms and their daughter. “There are many kinds of families. Some children live with one parent. Others live with two parents. Some families have two moms and two dads. Some children are raised by their grandparents,” the text explains.
The law also continues this concerning but long-standing family structure diversity philosophy for California’s youngest children in their preschool standards:
Help children learn how to include diverse peers, including children of different genders, ages, abilities, family structures, and ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. The term inclusive means more than simply “being together.” Inclusion comes through in the ways the child is connected with other children, is an active participant, and “belongs”—has full, unconditional membership in the classroom community.
Several other states have similar standards on family structure diversity and have waded into the very messy controversy of preschool gender identity. Florida, which is supposed to be more conservative than California, defines family in the state’s current standards as “a group of people living together,” and in its proposed standards wants to delve into the highly subjective and controversial area of bullying, presumably including LGBT issues. Minnesota’s 2005 standards and Alaska’s of the same era had nearly identical language, no doubt inspired by the Head Start standard. The Minnesota standard required the following of three year olds:
Begin to develop awareness, knowledge, and acceptance of own gender and cultural identity.
Note: Minnesota’s current standards rearranged the words but still have the same concept of gender identity:
The indicators for preschoolers focus on how children show confidence and self-direction, identify gender and self as part of a family, community, and culture…
Regardless of one’s position on same-sex marriage, sexual orientation or any other LGBT issue, is it developmentally appropriate to expect preschoolers to understand and have an awareness of these issues that are so problematic for adults? A California public charter school that held a “transgender reveal” ceremony without parental knowledge or consent in a kindergarten class created much confusion and trauma. How much more difficult will it be for younger children in preschool?
This is an area that should be dealt with by parents at home, not by government entities with a political agenda. To achieve California’s standard of inclusiveness quoted above, someone’s beliefs are going to be violated on something. In this case, it will be the deeply held religious beliefs of parents who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, as well as the inherent right undergirded by centuries of tradition and multiple Supreme Court cases that parents should direct the education of their children, especially on controversial matters like these.
Even with this difficult situation, there are a few reasons for hope. First, the State Board of Education still has to adopt these textbook recommendations, and according to Education Week, the Board does not always go with the recommendations of the commission.
Second, the law does not mandate that the districts adopt a particular curriculum, so elected school boards will still be able to choose and even not adopt any of the recommended texts. There are no specific mandates or penalties for failure to adopt the approved materials.
Third, although this law was enacted in 2011, it has taken until now to even adopt a curriculum framework or recommend materials. The process has been complicated and fraught with controversy, with even the LGBT groups not totally happy with the outcome.
Finally, despite this horrific onslaught, there is some evidence that freedom of conscience based on sincere religious beliefs is still protected in this country. Hobby Lobby’s victory in the Supreme Court and the recent executive order benefiting the Little Sisters of the Poor are good examples. This situation also appears analogous to the upcoming Supreme Court case regarding the refusal of a baker to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding based on his religious convictions. Although California is much less hospitable to religious freedom than even the Supreme Court, for all of these reasons there is some hope that Christian parents could stand against this curriculum or opt their children out based on the same arguments.
This assault on innocent children, especially young ones — combined with Common Core, social emotional learning and data mining — is just one more reason parents ought to carefully consider how they educate their children. Regardless of the machinations of these various groups and government entities, parents must stand and protect their children against this tyranny of the mind imposed by a radical minority and out-of-control government. We owe them and the nation nothing less.