A group of Albertans has launched a campaign to protect “parental rights” and, if you don’t look too carefully, it might make a bit of sense.
After all, what parent doesn’t want to know what their child is learning, to have conversations about what is happening socially and culturally in school, and to help guide children through the minefield of peer pressure?
The group, Parents for Choice in Education, wants educational funding to follow the child and a school curriculum full of choice and discovery. It also talks about the parent being the key to all educational experience. And all of that make sense.
But there is much more here than initially meets the eye.
In a pamphlet it is distributing in protest of Bill 10 — which stipulates that a school must create a gay-straight alliance if a student requests it and enshrines protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation — Parents for Choice in Education calls for a rally to be held at the legislature on May 14 as part of an effort “to protect ALL children and the parent/child relationship.”
The pamphlet, subtitled “Parental Rights of Albertans Are Being Removed By The Alberta Government,” says: “Please do not believe that if you are against these guidelines that you are discriminating against the LGBTQ community.”
The group’s message, however, goes far beyond a modest effort to ensure parents know what children are learning.
It wants to mute the message of diversity and tolerance, and limit children’s exposure to 21st century Alberta. And it wants those children to believe that anything other than a traditional heterosexual existence is unnatural and unacceptable.
The Parents for Choice in Education movement is disingenuous, misinformed and close-minded. Ultimately, it is likely dangerous to the children it purports to protect, denying them the opportunity all children deserve: to find whatever honest knowledge their inquisitive natures seeks. To discover who they are, not who their parents deem them to be.
To the rest of us, this group’s strident campaign is yet another barrier on the road to an open and welcoming society.
All parents should encourage their children to understand the value of independent thought, the benefits of thorough analysis using all the facts and, in general, the payoff that a broad and inquiring perspective brings.
As a rule, parents should also help children gain enough perspective to realize that there are tired, exclusive and hurtful ways of life that are as damaging to them as they are to others.
So why is Parents for Choice in Education trying so desperately to cloister children and control their thoughts? Why does this group want so emphatically to reject the kind of expansive, inclusive and progressive society that most Albertans want?
It’s not about homophobia, according to the group’s website, which goes to great lengths to concoct a pretzel logic to prove that its rejection of alternate sexuality is not a phobia.
The group says the term ‘homophobia’ unfairly demeans those who don’t accept that “homosexuality is normal, natural, healthy and worthy of full social, cultural and political acceptance,” or that gay marriage should be embraced.
So if they’re not homophobic, what does this group believe?
“Implementation of (Bill 10),” it maintains, “would invariably set in place policies which would condition children to accept as normal a life of impersonation of the opposite sex.”
It believes that you can treat gender orientation like you would treat any other psychological condition, since it’s “an idea that exists in their mind.” It maintains the medical community is “overwhelmingly in support of treating individuals with gender confusion by helping them accept their gender identity dictated by genetics.”
In its view, anyone who isn’t heterosexual can — and should be — cured.
God forbid that their children should ever be exposed to — let alone discover the true nature of themselves within – anything other than heterosexuality.
Certainly not on their watch, and not in the schools they send their children to.
There is a plenty of scare mongering on the subject of sex coming from Parents for Choice in Education. Bill 10, we are told, will result in perverts in school washrooms. And gay-straight alliances will result in unbridled sexual behaviour of all types.
It’s a short, perilous trip from fear of differences to intolerance, segregation and even hate.
And by putting blinkers on their children, and attempting to do so to all children, this flat-earth brigade does a massive disservice to those children and, ultimately, to society.
Troy Media columnist John Stewart is a born and bred Albertan who doesn’t drill for oil, ranch or drive a pickup truck – although all of those things have played a role in his past.