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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Teaching "Diversity" in Schools - or is it Brainwashing?

                                      "Train up a child in a way he should go,
                                        And when he is old he will not depart from it."
                                                                                 - Proverbs 22:6 KJV

I recently visited one of my children's former elementary school. On my way out of the building, a boy skipping happily in the hallway caught my eye. He was wearing a bright yellow shirt with very puffy sleeves over what seemed like an ordinary Hanes blue shirt. I thought, "what mother would send her son to school in what was obviously a girl's frilly shirt?" But I didn't think much of it. Perhaps it was just one of those ooops things when a half-awake, half-asleep mom pulled out a wrong shirt and put it on on her son.

That's until I came home and  turned on the TV. I only caught part of the news clip but the message was clear enough. A school representative was talking about promoting diversity by encouraging elementary school-aged boys to dress like girls and vice-versa. This was to happen during the school's bullying prevention week. My thoughts went back to that boy in a puffy sleeved-shirt in my child's old school. Was "diversity to prevent bullying" the reason for his pretty girlie shirt?

This is not the first time we've heard of this story. A parent in a San Francisco middle school stepped in to prevent the cross-dressing theme of "Spirit Week". She was given the option of keeping her son home if he didn't want to participate in the event. A group of first-graders was bused to a field trip which was actually the wedding of their lesbian teacher. A book,  My Princess Boy, written by a mother whose son loves sequined dress and pink heels, is used at the boy's school to promote acceptance and tolerance.

I have known some gay men who were beaten to a pulp by their fathers when they were young boys in the hope that that would "straighten" them up. I have heard of some tomboys roughed up by young boys to show them that's how tough boys are. Acceptance, not sympathy, is what the LGTB community wants from our society. Most of them have probably lived confusing and torturous lives figuring out and finally accepting who they are. It takes courage to finally come out and be comfortable in their chosen lifestyles. For that, they have my respect. And even though homosexuality runs counter to my faith, it is not my place to judge them. I just know that it is so much better for people to be happy (no pun intended) than feel like the world is against them.

However, teaching sexual orientation diversity under the pretext of bullying prevention is misleading, if not downright deceiving. Parents welcome teaching of diversity at schools but to single out homosexuality appears to be political imposition of gay rights and movement on captive impressionable audience. A slow and subtle brainwashing. Yes, gays and lesbians are targets of bullying, and so are overweight kids, kids with disabilities, poor kids who cannot afford to buy trendy clothes, Jehova's Witnesses girls wearing long skirts everyday, Sikh and Muslim kids wearing turbans and veils, foreign-born kids speaking with heavy accent and broken english, foster kids, pimply teens, the nerds and the geeks, blacks, browns, whites. There are many sub-groups of kids who happen to stand out and get picked on by other students. These are bullied kids who also  dread going to school in fear of being abused every day, verbally and /or physically. Yet, it is unheard of for a school to set aside a specific day to promote bullying prevention of stutterers or a "Spirit Day" in honor of students with unpronounceable surnames.

Bullying is a serious issue and every student deserves to learn in a safe and least restrictive environment. But we cannot cherry-pick one special group and devote a chunk of schools' limited resources in addressing that one issue  to the detriment of others. People with special needs deserve as much respect and acceptance as the gays and lesbians, just like the Jews and everyone else, regardless of their gender, race, religious affiliation and cultural background.  Bullying prevention is a multi-causes, year-round endeavor. Let's keep the policy that way.

Also, schools cannot be all things to everybody. We must reinforce the parent-teacher partnership. Let the teachers go back to teaching the basics again. Based on 2009 assessment, American students lagged behind among 34 developed countries in math, science and reading. We are ranked  25th, 17th and 14th respectively while the Chinese ranked first in all three categories.  We must do better. We must give the teachers back the creativity and flexibility to make students excited about math, science and reading again. We need to be grooming more future engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Parents, on the other hand, cannot surrender their parental responsibilities. Character-building and hardwork, teaching empathy and tolerance, training children to be kind and respectful to others, are first and foremost duties of the parents. Parents must raise good citizens. Teachers should groom productive citizens. Partners in shaping the future leaders of our world, that is one thing we can all be happy about.

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