While HRC and its homies were living it up, New Jersey’s Evesham School District put the smack down on a video called That’s a Family! A raw piece of educational material, the tawdry film features swaths of families, including a family with gay parents and another with – gasp – single mothers! A number of concerned parents called the video “disturbing” – a word we don’t think quite sums up the horrors of realistic pedagogy – and rallied for the film to be banned from the curriculum. After two weeks of deliberation, the board has crumbled to the hysterical parents’ demands and the children’s education will continue to be safe against anything progressive, true or in anyway relevant to the world, their lives and/or rationality.
We may make light of this story, but we’ve been growing increasingly interested in the state of America’s education system. We’re not sure why. We think it comes from the time we saw Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings on Celebrity Jeopardy. Alex Trebek asked her how America’s education system compared to the rest of the world. Spellings lamented that it wasn’t doing well, but then proceeded to donate her winnings to an international literacy campaign. We’re all for international education, but we found it a bit ironic.
Regardless, we’ve been thinking about education, especially after how ex-gay supporters PFOX used the first amendment to spread their flyers at a Maryland County School. That case came up again in our coverage of the lawsuit against a Lexington, Massachusetts school in which parents allege the school meant to brainwash their children by having them read a gay book, King and King. In that post, we wrote:
The argument goes that public schools cannot discriminate against PFOX because they’re constitutionally required to include all viewpoints concerning sexual education.
Apparently we misspoke. A reader named Colin wrote:
This isn’t true. The Constitution is not this all encompassing. Rather, the requirement MAY be only that schools have a responsibility to provide all scientifically valid viewpoints. Otherwise, every crackpot organization could demand that their views on sex be taught. The PFOX/Montgomery County case had to do with fliers being handed out by outside organizations. If you allow one outside organization to distribute fliers, you can’t discriminate based on viewpoint. This has nothing to do with sex-ed curricula.
Well, we agree and disagree. For example, while 2005’s Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District may have been struck down, effectively barring unscientific teachings such as intelligent design from being taught in public schools, that decision rested more on the separation of church and state, rather than science. From an MSNBC report:
We find that the secular purposes claimed by the board amount to a pretext for the board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom.
Intelligent design couldn’t be taught, because it’s not a science and therefore counts as a religious teaching – it’s that final ruling, it being religious in nature, that made it unconstitutional. Thus, science isn’t really the problem here.
The argument we referenced comes stems from the First Amendment Center’s advise that school boards not take sides in whether or not it’s right to teach about sexual orientation. The paper, “Public Schools and Sexual Orienation” reads:
Some [schools] are convinced that the only way to address this sisue is to insist that one view be imposed on all students and parents… If schools are going to win the peace it will not be by choosing a side and coercing other to accept it… It is possible, however, to find areas of agreement if school officials create a climate of mutual respect and honest dialogue.
It seems to us that they’re saying both sides of the great gay divide should be addressed evenly, regardless of scientific evidence.
There is no scientific evidence, for example, behind PFOX’s pro ex-gay propaganda. On the contrary, a number of organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, say that reparative therapies meant to “cure” homosexuality” cause more harm than good. Further, its seems that the scientific cover-up argument (that is, that fake science has been used to conceal religious leanings) could be made against the PFOX pamphlets. But, we’re not lawyers. And, we’ve gotten way off track.
We meant to tell you that Republican Senator Chris Buttars got a little sneaky on Friday, when he tacked on what many to perceive to be an anti-gay amendment to a bill that had previously been cleansed of such language by the House. From the AP via Salt Lake City’s Daily Herald:
Public schools would be allowed to prevent students from forming gay-straight alliance clubs if they think such groups would threaten the “moral well-being” of students or faculty, under a bill the Senate will debate.
The version of House Bill 236 approved Friday by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee is much different from one the House approved earlier this week that required parental consent for students to join clubs.
That’s because Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, substituted the bill in a Rules Committee meeting and then directed it toward the committee he’s chairman of.
Buttars is a longtime opponent of gay-straight alliances. Last year during debate on a similar effort to ban gay clubs, he called the clubs recruiting tools for homosexuals and contended they were tearing down the moral pillars of society.
It appears Buttars has been in cahoots with party peer, Aaron Tilton, the man who proposed the original bill. If passed by the Senate, the bill still has to go to the House for final approval. While it’s unlikely the House will pass a bill containing all the things it just cut, we think it’s worth mentioning simply because of Buttars’ brazen attempt to pull one over. Sleazeball.