A recent federal court decision tried to give public schools control over their pupils’ lives that those students’ parents usually exercise. “There is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters for their children,” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Fields v. Palmdale School District. “No such specific right can be found in the deep roots of the nation’s history and tradition or implied in the concept of ordered liberty.”
The U. S. House of Representatives disagreed, by a vote of 320-91. But, putting a hold on the court’s decision may not stop the increasingly intrusive public school bureaucrats at work today. In Lexington, Massachusetts, “David and Tonia Parker objected to the book Who’s in a Family? It was included in a ‘Diversity Book Bag’ that their kindergarten son brought home from school,” according to The Education Reporter. “The book by Robert Skutch illustrates same sex couples and contains descriptions about them, such as ‘Robin’s family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad’s partner Henry, and Robin’s cat, Sassy.’”
When David Parker showed up at the school to voice his objections to the book, school officials had him arrested, thrown in jail and charged with criminal trespassing. The county District Attorney refused to prosecute the case.
Not too surprisingly, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), endorses the book. Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, which publishes The Education Reporter, does not.
Meanwhile, in Lexington, “The superintendent of schools, Paul Ash, announced in September that he had ordered all teachers not to notify parents in advance when discussing homosexual relationships because they are teaching about diversity and citizenship,” according to The Education Reporter.
Public school administrators may think that they are ahead of the diversity curve, but some of them fail basic civics, not to mention ethics. “A gay man charged with helping his lover loot a wealthy school district has asked a judge to rule that [New York] state law protecting spouses from having to testify against each other also applies to same-sex partners,” the Associated Press reports. “Stephen Signorelli, fighting charges that he stole at least $219,000 from the Roslyn, N. Y. school district, is seeking to bar testimony by his longtime companion, Frank Tassone, the district’s former superintendent. Auditors say that in all, $11.2 million was taken from the Long Island district. It is considered among the largest thefts from a U. S. school system.”
Against this backdrop, students would be understandably reluctant to fill out the TeenScreen questionnaire Columbia University concocted. Currently making the rounds of public high schools, and favorably considered by the Bush White House for national use, the survey includes the following questions:
• In general are you happy with the way things are going for you?
• Do you get along with your family?
• Do you ever use laxatives or throw up on purpose after eating?
• Do you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco?
• Do you drink alcohol?
• Have you tried any drugs (pot, crack, cocaine, heroin, acid, speed, etc.)?
Respondents might try taking the Socratic approach to this inquiry by answering a question with a question, namely, what business is it of yours?
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.