From the PITT Substack:
I have to say that I am confused.
I never ever in my wildest dreams thought that I would be speaking at a random school district’s board meeting to help spread the idea that parents are the real constituents of their child’s educational experience. I personally thought this was common knowledge or a commonsense value. Teachers work for the parents, and the administration is democratically elected to facilitate in service of the needs and interests of the parents. Parents are interested in having their children receive an education, and they have entrusted you to fulfill that task.
Your primary task in that endeavor should be that of continued transparent communication. In fact, much of this problem could have been avoided by sharing all aspects of a child’s educational experience, including sex education, up front. This would include full log in access to all curriculum materials regardless of copywrite rules. Parental access should be part of the negotiated contract with the curriculum publishers. Publishers, school administration, and teachers should have nothing to hide. With technology, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal unless you have hired people that don’t understand their job.
I also never imagined that this discussion point, parental rights in education, would be politically divisive in any way. I am constantly flabbergasted that all parents, all teachers and all administrators in all schools, whether public or private, would not wholly and completely agree with this simple principle. I never thought I would have to state out loud that I have been a registered Democratic voter my entire adult life in order to prove that I am not some sort of right-wing extremist (whatever that means), merely because I believe in family values and autonomous parental rights. Something odd has happened within our political system that has forced so many of us to be shamed into submission. As an educator myself, I never thought I would witness teachers willing to throw my, as well as their own, parental rights away while asserting that somehow my ability to understand and know my own child could be less than theirs.
I never thought the grownups in charge would be too busy to take the time to understand a massive social phenomenon that is happening amongst young people- young people whose childhood is vastly different than mine and most of yours given the unfettered access to unlimited information. With that access comes the impact of psychological disruptions of development when children are exposed to age-inappropriate content with which this generation is bombarded. Have we all forgotten how socially significant our adolescent and young adult years were? And how easily influenced we were? I know I am not alone in this thought. Imagine being that age now with the exponential rise in the use of technology and social media beyond any of our wildest thoughts. A perfect vehicle for the planting of bad and harmful ideas.
This is a vulnerable age and we have to ground our youth in reality. I never thought schools would be complicit in fueling this new social contagion. The reality is you cannot change your sex, so why are we promoting this as a normal thought experiment. Experimenting with the idea of transgenderism (which is a relatively new concept/term) is not the same as exploring one’s sexuality. Frankly, it is a type of psychosexual abuse. “Transgenderism” is about decoupling yourself from your sexed body, which at another time in history would have been classified as body dissociative disorder, which would have warranted a call home to parents. And then parents get to decide which trusted adult, including family, would be equipped to best help their child. This is a task that should never be undertaken without the expressed written consent of parents. In fact, I believe consent rules got changed without full public discourse but that’s a conversation for another time.
Wondering if you are gay is vastly different than wondering if you were born in the wrong body. One allows you to completely retain a healthy physical body. The other tries to convince you that you were born “wrong” and need harmful body modifications via drugs and surgeries. Does that seem like a healthy idea? Who benefits most in this scenario? Whistle blowers are speaking out. Why are you not doing your due diligence?
You know back when I was growing up teachers did not share many aspects of their personal lives with their students. We rarely knew what teachers’ relationship status was outside of school. They didn’t have personal photos hanging around their room. The focus was on educating us and keeping us physically safe. So, I find it quite peculiar that teachers would be discussing or proclaiming their personal sexual interests and proclivities. And likewise, if a student has a conversation with a trusted adult at school that crosses over curriculum topic boundaries and into an area of concern, a caring and ethical teacher’s first course of action should be to facilitate a conversation with parents in a timely fashion.
The bottom line is parents know and love their child best, and that should be the presumptive, default position for any school employee. We have always told children that if an adult asks you to keep a secret from your parents, that adult is suspect. So it also stands to reason that any teacher or adult keeping a secret from parents is suspect. Best practice is full transparency.
(Feel free to use/read on a concerned parent’s behalf at your local meeting – Permission Granted.)