Saturday, October 25, 2008

National 'Coming Out Day'

Brought to my attention through a recent news article, I learned of national 'Coming Out Day', celebrated on October 11th, and it's widely recognized status within schools, reaching as young as Kindergarten. In this day and age, there seems to be a day of recognition for just about anything; however, this new and particular holiday seems to raise questions regarding it's presence within our education system. In Hayward, California, parents of children being exposed and taught about this important holiday, are frustrated and furious because of their lack of inclusion and lack of permission. While it remains a highly debatable and popular issue in California surrounding the controversy over Proposition 8, it should call the attention of all parents with children in public, and private, education. Where do parents draw the line over what their children are being exposed to at school? Should parents allow a plethora of educational topics, spanning from GLBT rights, to abortion, to be taught to their children? At what age should children be exposed to these controversial, not to mention extremely complex issues faced within this current election and America, today. Lastly, in specific, do Catholic parents have a moral right to deny their children of these educational topics in light of their moral beliefs?

While I consider myself a devout Catholic and rather conservative voter, I firmly believe these issues should be taught within all public and private schools. I believe that all children have a fundamental right to be exposed and taught to the people of the world. However, I also firmly believe that these topics, in their density and complexity, have a time and place to be taught, as well. As Catholics, we can easily look to the seven aspects of Catholic Social Teaching in order to instruct us on this issue. We are called to respect the sanctity of human life, and the dignity of all people. We are called to a life rich in family and community, despite the orientation of a member. Lastly, we are called to a life of solidarity, in communion with one another, including every marginalized member of society. That being said, it would doing a downright disservice to our children, to our future generations, to deny them the knowledge and education of people different, or similar, to them.

7 comments:

Tyler C said...

There are many problems with the education system in America. While there is no clear answer on how to fix these problems, perhaps a solid education in the core subjects such as reading, math, science, etcetera would be a place to start. Schools in the current time are spending too much time focusing on irrelevant things in the classroom. However, in California, it seems that the Proposition Eight issue that will be on the ballots is very worthy to inform students about. Presenting a clear and informed statement about both sides of the issue would be a service to the children. I do not see anything wrong with schools teaching students about political issues, as long as both sides of each issue are presented to limit any bias the teacher already has regarding the issue.

Becca W said...

I agree that if a reform of the national school system were to occur, “coming out day” would not be my first complaint. I whole heartedly support awareness and acceptance being taught in schools, but I seriously question if most kindergarteners even know the word homosexuality. If the homosexual community were indeed trying to “push the gay lifestyle on kindergartners,” that probably isn’t the best demographic. Pertaining to “where parents draw the line” with topic exposure in schools, I think trying to shelter children from the changing political issues is futile. Looking at the protests of the teaching of evolution, segregation and sex education, the initial fervor of outrage has diminished into an air of acceptance, perhaps bitter reluctance in some cases, and I think the same will occur with the topic of homosexuality. As for Catholic parents having a “moral right” to deny these topics, I think today that right only remains within Catholic schools, and their “moral right” shouldn’t entitle them to a handpicked curriculum that may not reflect the views of the rest of the community.

DanaG said...

I agree that these issues should be addressed in schools (public, and hopefully private), but I also feel that age-appropriateness of the curriculum is crucial. Children should be exposed to differing ideas, values, and people - in a framework that they can understand. A 6 year old probably doesn't know what the word "homosexuality" means, but he might have a classmate who has two mommies, and he's likely curious about that. It is important too that children who come from different family backgrounds feel accepted and safe in their school. The serious discussion of these or other big issues can come later, when the children are mature enough to handle it. I recognize the tension between trying to best serve the students who are growing up in a diverse society, while also recognizing the rights of the parents to govern what their children are exposed to. However, in a public school setting, I do not support giving parents the right to veto whatever they please and insist on curricula that only reflect their beliefs.

Erin S. said...

First of all, this is a huge political issue. It is one of the reasons why there is such separation between Democrats and Republicans. I believe that parents have a fundamental right to decide whether or not their children are taught about homosexuality in public school curriculum. This is really a sensitive issue that can be taught in other ways than just in school. This may be one of the reasons why parents choose to home school their children or send them to a secular school instead of public schools. Nonetheless, I believe that it is the parent’s choice and right (not the schools) to teach their children the way they want them to think about this political issue and personal choice.

Amanda M. said...

I also believe that the idea of homosexuality shoud be taught, but it should not be taught to those in elementary schools. It should also be taught in an appropriate subject such as health. Teaching ideas such a homosexuality should not be a priority in schools though. There are so many schools that do not meet the standards that are expected that core subjects should be what is being paid attention to. Having students that are informed is important but being informed needs to come after knowing how to add and subtract or read. It almost seems that schools do not know how to handle everything going on outside the walls of the classroom and that needs to be addressed first.

Megan L. said...

While I can appreciate the desire to educate and expose our children to the many differences in the world, I would not want to explain to my child the inner working of the GLBT world and the issues surrounding it as young as kindergarten. I feel as though the parents should, at the very least, be informed if not asked permission before exposing such young children to such controversial issues. I do not believe these are things the school should be teaching, I think these are issues for the parents to decide when and how to educate their children on the differences in the world.

rachel gielau said...

Legally I don't see a problem with teaching about homosexuality in public schools as long as there is not 'right or wrong' being taught with it. I believe it may be important for students to learn what it means to be homosexual and what social and political implications go along with being homosexual in order to have a well-rounded education preparing them for participation in the real world. That being said, I don't believe an elementary school is the place for such education, whereas it would be far more appropriate in a high school setting. As for the religious objection to such education, as long as the topic is taught without bias, I don't see a persuasive religious exemption argument.