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Katherine Kersten weighs in on 'gay is OK' curriculum

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Katherine Kersten weighs in on 'gay is OK' curriculum

Katherine Kersten weighs in:
"Parents say school undermines their authority over kids"

[Excerpt from Katherine Kersten's column below followed by a comment by Doug Mann]

[Katherine Kersten:]

FeLicia McCorvey Preyer, who has second-grade twins at the school, was also incensed about "Families All Matter." Before the school year began, she told Sage and school officials that she didn't want her children reading books with homosexual themes, she says. "They knew my wishes and they defied them," she adds.

"Families All Matter" is supposed to teach tolerance. In fact, says Bounds, her daughter has learned that people who believe that a mother and father are best for a family are discriminatory.

After Sage read "Asha's Mums," he "told the class that his grandfather had believed that black people are stupid," she says. "He said that other adults had helped him see that his grandfather was a bigot." The implication? That parents who don't share Sage's views on family matters are bigots too.

Sage touched a nerve by claiming the mantle of the fight against racism for his own agenda, says Preyer. "I'm appalled that he, a white man, would use that tactic to push his views on African-American children."

But Bounds and Preyer are most upset at the school's message that kids don't need to listen to their parents when the school and the parents disagree. "The school is undermining my authority as a parent, at a critical, formative stage of my daughter's life," says Bounds.

[End of quotation from Katherine Kersten's column]

Doug Mann responds: As I stated at the Insight News public policy forum, I believe that the parent's complaint about the [Families All Matter] curriculum should have been seriously discussed, and given the parents perception of what was happening in the classroom, one has to consider how the issue of sexual orientation was presented. 

The interdistrict school and the Minneapolis School District has a legitimate interest in creating a safe environment for all students to learn, including those who may deviate from the norm with respect to sexual orientation. Discrimination against and harassment of individuals because of their sexual orientation are recognized as civil rights violations under federal and state law. It should also be noted that the Minneapolis Public Schools are widely recognized as a relatively safe haven for gay/lesbian students. So discussion about homosexuality can't be off limits, even with second graders.

On the other hand, the district should avoid getting into a "values-based" curriculum. A teacher who tells their class that one or another type of sexual orientation is good or bad is talking about values. This opens the door to the teacher presenting their own values and biases as a model of "right thinking" for the students. You can imagine where that can go when you have a curriculum that deals not only with sexual orientation, but also race and racism in an institution where racially discriminatory practices are deeply entrenched and produce results that reinforce negative stereotypes of black students and families, creating fertile ground for racism per the standard dictionary definition: A belief in the superiority of one race over another and discrimination based on that belief. In my opinion, most of the explanations for the racial learning gap that I have heard from teachers and board members - arguments supporting the contention that the district is doing a good job with hard-to-educate students - are racist and wrong.

In approaching this issue it is important to consider how the discussion about "family matters" was dealt with, and suspend judgment about the political correctness of Gina Bound's family values. If Ms. Bounds got the impression that the teacher was teaching a family values curriculum, and the teacher was holding up his own views are a model of right thinking, she has a legitimate concern.

The other point that I attempted to make at the Insight News forum, which did not get into print, was about having a double standard for gay and "straight" teachers. If a certain type of personal information may be shared by a heterosexual teacher, it would be wrong to prohibit gay teachers from sharing comparable information.

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