Only one thing remains as urgently needed now: a ‘bullymeter’ in every schoolyard
Things have been relatively tranquil these past two months on what might be called the “sex-ed issue,” which simmers just below the boiling point in three Canadian provinces and innumerable American states. The controversy centers on the intense campaign of the so-called “gay lobby” to coerce the general citizenry to accept, endorse, admire, cheer and otherwise celebrate forms of sexual conduct that 15 or 20 years ago were widely viewed as perverted if not depraved.
However, if you listen to the champions of change, we have now advanced beyond all such darkness into the pure light of “openness” and “tolerance,” not to say asininities. The fervour generated by the innovators behind this campaign is not easily explained. It masquerades as an attack on school “bullying,” but the evidence for this bullying is rarely ever quantified. How could it be? How do you measure degrees of “bullying?” Will there be a bully meter in every school yard. Are we having a good day for bullying or a bad one? Is there more of it or less? Who knows? The media know, that’s who! How did the media find out? Because the gay lobby told them,
Anyway, one of the achievements of the campaign to date is the phenomenon of the annual “gay pride parade” — with the mayor of the town prancing along at the head of it, waving to the people, and trying to look as proud as possible under the somewhat less than edifying circumstances. And on the floats behind come the gentlemen dressed only in jock straps or less to simulate copulation and thereby demonstrate how advanced our tolerance has become as a community.
However, of far more lasting consequences are the sex-ed courses being pushed in the schools by the governments of British Columbia, Ontario and above all Alberta. The message implicit in all three programs is the same: — “If it feels good, go for it. Don’t worry about the old rules of chastity. They’re gone. Don’t worry about pregnancy; we have abortion for that. Don’t worry about diseases. We have medicines for that. (It’s notable, however, that in a grandiose sex-ed brochure, published by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, there’s not a single mention of sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs), while U.S. health authorities are warning of an “alarming” rise of these afflictions among males in the late teens and, early 20s.
Meanwhile, to their undying credit, Alberta’s Catholic school boards have drawn the line and refused to allow Gay-Straight Clubs in the Catholic schools. The Alberta education minister, David Eggen, came out with his accustomed threat: “De-fund! De-fund! De-fund!” — the same howl he raised when three little Protestant schools defied him. So far nothing has happened to any of them. The Catholic boards submitted a sex-ed program of their own, consistent with Christian teaching. In response the minister declared that he didn’t read it and, implicitly, that he didn’t intend to. Tens of thousands of Catholic kids in Alberta’s RC schools and he won’t so much as read what their elected trustees after much thought are recommending. How’s that for arrogance?
Looking back on this controversy to the fall of 2014 and even then an oncoming crisis begins to emerge around the question: Can practicing Christians allow their kids to attend the public schools as constituted by the likes of Mr. Eggen? I found a document in which the Catholic bishop of Calgary had advanced five reasons why Catholics cannot allow the government-sponsored sex clubs in their schools. Each of the five was countered by Dr. Kristopher Wells of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies. Dr. Wells carefully took the bishop’s case point by point but then often answered something else. Examples:
No. 1: The Bishop: The clubs infringe upon parental rights, by refusing to divulge to the parent their child’s membership in them. Dr. Wells: , GSA’s do not infringe upon parental authority any more than participation in a chess club or volleyball team. Has the U.S. government recommended regular sexual disease testing for chess students or volleyball players? (Answer no. The Master of the False Analogy has scored again. )
No. 2: The Bishop: By denying the parent access to the fact his child has joined one of the sex clubs, the clubs restrict the parents’ freedom to impart to the child the Christian view of the activities the club defends and endorses. Dr. Wells: The creation of a GSA in a school does not interfere with the ability of any parent to provide religious instruction, because participation by students is voluntary. (The child’s membership in the club would probably be the direct cause of the parental intervention. If the parent is denied this information that obviously obstructs him from meeting his parental responsibility.)
No. 3: The Bishop: The clubs interfere with Catholic worship and the practice of religious beliefs. Dr. Wells: “It is unclear how creating safe spaces for vulnerable youth interferes with the right of any person to practice his or her religion.” (Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, has always taught that certain sexual practices are unbiblical, unnatural and extremely unhealthy. Christians are urged to pity people subverted by them. but this does not make those practices right, nor excuse us from warning against them.)
No.4: The Bishop: Catholic schools must have the right to determine both the name and content of initiatives in accord with Catholic doctrine. Dr. Wells: “Students have the right to create, name, and advertise their [clubs] in their school environment, Silence, invisibility, and erasure only serve to make students even more isolated, alienated, and marginalized. (Response fails to refute the bishop’s contention, unless Dr. Wells means that students should have the right to overrule their own teachers and their own church.)
No. 5: The Bishop: The clubs single out [some] students and privilege them above all the others. Dr. Wells: “The clubs are about far more than addressing bullying; they are critical alliances to help understand and celebrate our differences as inherent gifts that we all possess.” ( Response does not appear to relate to the bishop’s point.)
In pursuing the details of the sex-ed issue, one discerns a growing chasm within our communities between those who believe in God and those who don’t. The disservice done to us by the likes of Mr. Eggen is that he intensifies and widens that gulf. His handling of the sex club issue in the Catholic schools seems so brazenly irresponsible it’s hard to believe this isn’t purposed. But what is that purpose? Does anybody know? Does he? That’s the scary part.
Ted Byfield was founder and publisher of Alberta Report news magazine, general editor of Alberta in the Twentieth Century. a 12-volume history of the province, and general editor of The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a 12-volume history of Christianity. His column on education appears in The Christians.com, a web journal. He has recently authored two little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters and The Revolution Nobody Covered. You can order both copies here.