When PCs clash

In the world of presidential elections, we’re watching the fascinating spectacle of clashing identity politics.  Neither Hillary nor Obama has a strong resume (or even a medium resume).  Each is distinguished from the other, and from others in the field (remember Silky Pony?) solely because of gender or race.  He’s black (sort of); she’s female (sort of).  It’s hardly been an edifying show, although anyone familiar with the demands of identity politics could have predicted the way in which this particular race would shape up.

Since liberals live for labels and hierarchies  of victimhood, I’d like to direct your attention to another clash, this time in Britain, and this time involving differing groups that have been deemed worthy of homage from the PC crowd:  gays and Muslims.  It turns out that, some time ago, Britain passed a gay rights law mandating school curricula aimed at preventing gay bullying.  Now, I am entirely in favor of preventing gay bullying.  Indeed, I’m strongly in favor of preventing any type of bullying.  If it were up to me, I’d have a strictly enforced, broad-reaching, no-bullying rule in all schools.

The problem in this case arose because the schools at issue felt compelled (either because the law requires it or because that’s how they interpret the law — I’m not sure) to teach 5 year old kids about homosexuality.  Thus, the schools included in their kindergarten curriculum books touting homosexual and lesbian relationships, something that seems a bit premature for the 5 year old set, most of whom are dealing with such intricacies as shoe laces, the alphabet song, and counting to three digit numbers.  Throwing in non-traditional relationships seems a bit much.

As it is, the school picked some rather cute sounding, appropriately make-believe-ish books to make the legally mandated points:

One story, titled King & King, is a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before marrying one of their brothers.

Another named And Tango Makes Three features two male penguins who fall in love at a New York zoo.

I’m that all would have been well if a conservative Christian group stepped forward to object to this curriculum.  We know, after all, that conservative Christians (a) hate gays and (b) don’t have to be listened to because, in the PC hierarchy, they’re victimizers, not victims, thereby invalidating their concerns.  The problem is that it wasn’t conservative Christians who were upset by the indoctrina . . . er . . . education their kids were getting.  Instead, it was Muslim parents:

Two primary schools have withdrawn storybooks about samesex relationships after objections from Muslim parents.

Up to 90 gathered at the schools to complain about the books which are aimed at pupils as young as five.

***

They were intended to help prevent homophobic bullying, it said.

But the council has since removed the books from Easton Primary School and Bannerman Road Community School, both in Bristol.

A book and DVD titled That’s a Family!, which teaches children about different family set-ups including gay or lesbian parents, has also been withdrawn.

The decision was made to enable the schools to “operate safely” after parents voiced their concerns at meetings.

Now, as it happens, I am sympathetic to both sides in this argument, although more so to the parents.  With regard to the schools, they had a legal mandate they had to follow and, as I said, I’m extremely opposed to bullying.  (And to clarify for new readers, I don’t have a problem with adults engaging in homosexual relationships although I’m resistant to suddenly jettisoning 30,000 plus years of human history by suddenly legalizing gay marriage — I may ultimately agree to doing so, but I’d prefer to stop and consider the societal ramifications first, rather than rush of with the trendy idea of the year.)

Having expressed these sympathies, though, I am still troubled by introducing the whole concept of adult sexuality to the 5 year old set, even if that sexuality is cutely dressed up in penguin or prince clothes.  I just think it’s a topic that these little people are neither emotionally nor intellectually ready to deal with, and they don’t need it on their plates as they struggle with the practicalities of learning basic life skills.  For this reason, I hew to the view of the parents, who present themselves in the article as very reasonable people indeed:

Farooq Siddique, community development officer for the society and a governor at Bannerman Road, said there were also concerns about whether the stories were appropriate for young children.

“The main issue was there was a total lack of consultation with parents,” he said.

“The schools refused to deal with the parents, and were completely authoritarian.

“The agenda was to reduce homophobic bullying and all the parents said they were not against that side of it, but families were saying to us ‘our child is coming home and talking about same-sex relationships, when we haven’t even talked about heterosexual relationships with them yet’.

“They don’t do sex education until Year Six and at least there you have got the option of withdrawing the children.

“But here you don’t have that option apparently. You can’t withdraw because it is no particular lesson they are used in.”

He added: “In Islam homosexual relationships are not acceptable, as they are not in Christianity and many other religions but the main issue is that they didn’t bother to consult with parents.

“The issue should have been, how do we stop bullying in general, and teaching about homosexuality can be a part of that.

“This was completely one-sided.

“Homosexuality is not a priority to parents but academic achievement is. This just makes parents think ‘What the heck is my child being taught at school?’.”

I agree with everything Siddique said.  Schools shouldn’t be high-handed with regard to these sensitive matters, parents weren’t given a say, it’s not (in my opinion) age appropriate material, and the school’s decision may well extend beyond the legal mandate.  (I do wonder, though, whether the bulk of the parents were as reasonable as Mr. Siddique.  I’m sure you caught the factthat the school backed down from its position because the school needed to “operate safely.”  That sounds, of course, as if the schools were receiving threats.  The article provides no further information about this cryptic phrase.)

The one thing I can assure you is that this will be an interesting battle, and it won’t revolve around the actual merits at issue:  preventing bullying, respecting the complete sexual innocence of 5 year olds, acknowledging parents’ right/need for input regarding sensitive issues, etc.  Instead, it’s going to boil down to a battle of specially protected classes:  gays vs. Muslims.  One of them will win quickly or the whole thing will get very loud and very ugly.  The only thing you can be sure of is that the children’s age-appropriate educational needs will not be taken into consideration.

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  • rockdalian

    From School Library Journal
    PreSchool-Grade 2– A first title in a new line of books for children with homosexual parents , told in a straightforward manner. A young boy describes his father’s relationship with his roommate, Frank (they “live together, work together, eat together, sleep together . . .”)(from Amazon)

    A similar picture book, Leslie Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies (In Other Words, 1989) presents a lesbian family. ( also Amazon)

    We have similar problems here.

  • Mike Devx

    Radical social activists see government-mandated schools as the perfect place to push their agendas. Get ‘em early enough, and the naive little open minds are yours forever. Every revolutionary has always known the importance of brainwashing the children against the wishes of the parents.

    The end of mandatory government-monopoly schools cannot come soon enough.

    We can yell all we want: “Leave The Children Alone!” But they won’t ever leave the children alone.

    The situation will change only when outraged parents can put their children into the school of their choice. Radical social activists won’t be able to even get a TOE into the schools once the parents have full choice. They’ll have to win their arguments in the ADULT public arena, which takes so much time and is just SOOOO frustrating to them! Adults tend to be rational and demand proof, and we mustn’t have that!!! It’s all sooo frustrating; especially with all those naive little open minds are just there to be taken, against their parents’ wishes: a captive audience for the Glorious Message!

  • jj

    A rock thrown into a pool: I’m sort of in favor of English school bullying. And there was a time when the English were artists of bullying in school – refer to “Tom Brown’s School Days;” or “Stalky And Company;” or even “Takes of St. Austen” for a more (nearer to) contemporary version.

    And what was the result of all these bullied kids? England ran the world. The English public-school (which means preppies, who were the most bullied because they didn’t go home at night) kids were in charge of administering the planet, and the British Empire did so for a couple of centuries. (Centuries, let us remember, are hundreds of years.)

    When England made education more nationalized, and outlawed things like bullying – the Empire went right to hell and fell apart.

    When we gave free rein to bulllies in schools, and fights in empty lots down the street – we conquered the continent, and in various wars whacked England, Spain, Mexico, Germany a couple of times, England, Japan – you get the idea. Now we are “civilized,” and out boys are not allowed to bully, and Heaven forbid an actual fight in the schoolyard!

    And look at the problems we’re having getting a grip on a bunch of clowns who never managed to invent toilet paper.

    I don’t necessarily propose there is a connection – but I do feel free to wonder about it.

  • USMaleSF

    One of my regular rants, as a righty gay man in San Francisco, is that it is perfectly acceptable to trash Christianity but an absolute silence must be maintained in regard to Islam. I live right in the heart of the ghetto. I overhear a lot of conversations. Regular condemnation of Bush, Republicans and the Christian Right. But I have never, not once, overheard even a civil criticism of the Muslim jihad or of Islam, a religion that easily outstrips all others in its harsh treatment of homosexuals, to this day. And when I make such criticisms, there is a clearing of throats and a changing of subject all around, if I manage to escape being branded a racist.

    If the gays beat out the Mohammedans in this British match, I will be well and truly astonished.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    You’re absolutely right, USMaleSF. If a person is going to condemn a religion for taking an antagonistic approach to his beliefs, lifestyle, biology, etc., he’d better be willing to condemn all religions that do so. Otherwise, instead of appearing principled, he starts looking like someone who is either ill-informed or has a vendetta.

    In this regard, you might find interesting an article Jonah Goldberg published today about the snide attacks on the “Jesus fish.”

  • USMaleSF

    Great minds, etc., Bookworm. It was my blog entry for today.
    http://usmalesf.blogspot.com/2008/04/islam-makes-strange-bedfellows.html

  • Ymarsakar

    The British Empire went down hill when they lost the American Colonies. Then they took another hit from WWI and still another when they refused to prevent Hitler’s rise to power.

    I’m sort of in favor of English school bullying.

    Like all bullies, they may be able to acquire a relative force advantage in the short term but in the long term, they have no staying power. Nor do they grow towards an ideal maximum potential.

    Now we are “civilized,” and out boys are not allowed to bully, and Heaven forbid an actual fight in the schoolyard!

    Civilization means you give up essential liberties for essential securities. If you wanted to live back in the Wild West and in which people could duel to the death over the slightest of social misunderstandings, then you are going to have a more hardy people. You’re also going to have more dead people and wasted manpower, but if that’s the price you want to pay, then go ahead.

    You might think that’s a good trade off, until people realize that you can’t reverse time and bring back the Indians, Comanches, and Apaches. Then people start realizing that if they want to become “hardy”, government will have to create threats out of thin air. Which is what the Muslims have done and the black community of America as well.

    America is at a position in which individuals no longer need to fight because they can solve their disputes in more fair and bureaucratic methods. Fair, if only because it is a pain to everyone.

    You can no more bring back the steppe barbarian culture than you can rewind time, JJ. That kind of nostalgia is worse than useless.