In the interests of “getting parents involved in schooling”, Alberta has passed a law requiring schools to notify parents when ‘controversial’ topics such as sex, sexual orientation or religion will be discussed.
Or, to put it another way, intolerant lobby groups have successfully enabled intolerant parents of innocent children to discourage intelligent debate and ignore facts that can influence their socialization, their health and their well-being. The “ignore it and it will go away” philosophy of education hasn’t really been a huge success in the past, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to work to anyone’s benefit this time, either. The law places limits on free speech that would be unacceptable outside a fascist dictatorship – having studied education, the free flow of ideas and the pursuit of knowledge through unlimited questioning of assumptions seems to me to be the most effective way of creating a citizen that is informed and willing to engage in their communities and the political process, not to mention increasing the odds that they can and will learn from other cultural traditions through a fair-minded and inquisitive approach to social interaction.
What Alberta is creating, by allowing reactionary parents to deny exposure to knowledge and controversy to their children, is another generation of reactionary parents. Ignorance breeds fear, which leads to hatred. That fundamental fact of human nature seems to have escaped the legislators out there. Take away the right of children to be educated through free inquiry, and you are robbing them of experiences that, while sometimes uncomfortable, can be life-affirming and character building. The parents in question obviously lack confidence that educators can protect children from the evils of sexuality and other religious views – I lack that confidence too, but that to me is a positive, not a negative. If I were a parent who were worth anything (as I consider Kevvy to be, for example), I would be there for my children to discuss anything they were disturbed by, to help give them context and the benefit of my experiences, not take away the opportunity for them to ask the questions out of a sense of parental laziness: “I’m too busy to set them straight on these liberal ideas, so it will save time if they are not exposed to them.” If parents were doing the job they are supposed to do, socialization into the family unit with all of its benefits and flaws, the law would not be necessary, and children would be free to form their own opinions.
You have done teachers, and especially children, an injustice. For the sake of political capital among the conservative ‘grassroots’, you have created the means to perpetuate ignorance and hatred, to place children’s health at risk, and to leave the impression to other Canadians that Albertans are ignorant hicks.
Not all of them are, I understand, but certainly the politicians are looking more and more like it.