I have a Catholic friend, born in Britain and proud of her heritage, who emigrated to the US with her husband in part because she wanted their children to have a decent chance at holding on to the faith. She did not believe that this was likely in aggressively post-Christian Britain. When I read stories like this from the Sunday Times, I understand that decision better:
Compulsory lessons to teach children from the age of five about gay and trans relationships will be outlined in guidance to head teachers to be published tomorrow.
The controversial new statutory guidance will also spell out for the first time the end of parents’ right to opt their children out of sex and relationships education classes in secondary school. The change will guarantee all children receive at least a term of lessons by the time they are 16.
The new classes will be introduced nationally in 2020 following a six-month consultation by the Department for Education.
Primary school pupils will learn about same-sex and trans families as well as staying safe online and developing “healthy, respectful relationships”. Secondary school pupils will receive classes on relationships and sex, including education about the “catastrophic” damage caused by female genital mutilation (FGM), the risks of sexting, online grooming, domestic violence and forced marriage.
Pupils will be told that FGM is illegal. Since July 2015, a total of 296 FGM protection orders have been made to protect girls at risk. Earlier this month, the mother of a three-year-old girl in east London became the first person to be found guilty of FGM in the UK.
The move by the education secretary, Damian Hinds, is likely to infuriate thousands of Jewish, Christian and Muslim parents. In Birmingham, a primary school using five picture books about LGBT relationships, including And Tango Makes Three, about a gay penguin couple bringing up a chick, is already being targeted by hundreds of protesters demanding the lessons be scrapped.
Look at how the BBC covers the issue. Amazing, the difference. This is called “burying the lede.” Here’s how it’s framed on their site:
Sounds so benign, right? The Guardian‘s report also buries the lede, but at least offers more information on why some parents find this objectionable. Excerpt:
MPs are to debate a petition on Monday demanding parents retain the right to opt their child out of sex education classes in schools after more than 100,000 people stressed parents’ “fundamental right” to decide when their children are taught RSE topics. Attendance is set to become compulsory at secondary schools from September 2020.
“We have grave concerns about the physical, psychological and spiritual implications of teaching children about certain sexual and relational concepts proposed in RSE and believe that they have no place within a mandatory school curriculum,” Dr Katherine Sarah Godfrey-Faussett, the petitioner, stated.
A protest organised by the lobby group Stop RSE to “protect childhood innocence” will take place outside parliament on Monday during the debate. They plan to urge MPs to offer parents the ability to withdraw their children from sex education classes.
Former education secretary Justine Greening first proposed the reforms for secondary schools in 2017, but she had said parents would retain the right to withdraw their children from sex education.
The row over whether children should be taught about LGBT rights has been brought into focus in Birmingham where a primary teacher has been the target of protests from concerned parents at Parkfield Community school, which serves a predominantly Muslim community.
It prompted an intervention from the head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, who backed the teaching of same-sex relationships in primary schools, as well as secondaries.
Ofsted is the government’s educational regulatory agency.
Notice that UK Muslim parents are taking the lead in opposing this stuff (which, note well, is coming from a Tory government). This is a good example of what one US Christian religious liberty legal expert was telling me recently: that conservative Christians had better get used to making common cause with Muslims on these issues.
When I post something like this, inevitably someone says, “Ah ha! Where’s your Benedict Option now? What are you going to do when you can’t opt out?” If they would have read the book, they would know about how the Benda family of Prague handled the issue of their own Catholic children being forced to go to communist schools with atheist propaganda shoved down their throats. There is no case in which a Ben Op strategy is needed more than those where parents have no choice but to submit when the state is propagandizing their children.
Far more worrying is this trend in the medical community. Writing in the American Journal of Bioethics, Maura Priest argues that the state should remove from parents the right to deny hormone blockers to their minor children. Here is the abstract:
In this article, I argue that (1) transgender adolescents should have the legal right to access puberty-blocking treatment (PBT) without parental approval, and (2) the state has a role to play in publicizing information about gender dysphoria. Not only are transgender children harmed psychologically and physically via lack of access to PBT, but PBT is the established standard of care. Given that we generally think that parental authority should not go so far as to (1) severally [sic] and permanently harm a child and (2) prevent a child from access to standard physical care, then it follows that parental authority should not encompass denying gender-dysphoric children access to PBT. Moreover, transgender children without supportive parents cannot be helped without access to health care clinics and counseling to facilitate the transition. Hence there is an additional duty of the state to help facilitate sharing this information with vulnerable teens.
The full paper may not be available to all readers. The website Bioedge summarizes the discussion. It quotes Priest here:
Just as it is the state’s duty to step in when naturalist parents are refusing insulin to their diabetic son or antibiotics to their daughter sick with meningitis, so is it the state’s duty to step in when the parents of gender-dysphoric children are avoiding medically recommended treatment.
This is not part of the law … yet. Here in the US, if you think the Democrats won’t push for this in the near future, you’re deluded. Republicans, can we please have a law unambiguously protecting the rights of parents to protect their children from a state official wanting to inject them with hormones? Is that too much to ask?
Seriously! If the Republican Party is not willing to go to the mat to defend parental rights (and the rights of minor children) against an activist-driven medical establishment that wants to kidnap children and jack them up with hormones, what good is it?