Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in elementary, middle, and high schools, for specialists to try to teach children to be better humans. School is more than just learning your multiplication tables and parts of speech (and sometimes, unfortunately, it is much less than either of those). It’s a place where you can participate in arts and in cultural activities; where you can play team sports and have nearly unlimited access to pretty awesome libraries. It’s a glorified babysitting service as well, where parents get upset when they find out that teachers are permitted Professional Development days so that they can learn better and more effective ways of teaching. Even more than that, it is the primary source of socialisation for a lot of people.
So there are classes – about things like racism. Your kids will learn why we don’t say nigger, kike, chink, nip, spic, kraut, squaw/brave, towel head, mick, frog, paki, etc.. At least not to people’s faces. Actually, they won’t. They might learn that it’s mighty rude to call people names. Because it hurts our *feelings*.
They might learn that it’s naughty or wrong to think about or to mention any kind of religious belief. They might learn that people who express their religious beliefs are weird and untrustworthy. Your kids might even learn that even though religious beliefs may be *normal* and *expected*, someone mean won’t let us express our religious beliefs at school.
But there are entire teaching units about bullying. Your students will learn that bullying is dangerous. Because bullying? Leads to maladjusted kids in trenchcoats shooting people. In schools. I mean, when did *racism* ever cause mass shootings? WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!???
Would you like to know what nobody talks about at school? Sex. Gender. It is *still* the last taboo. I wonder why, in this modern age of the electrical toasting oven and the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine, why we cannot shave some of the time off of the fear-mongering from the THOU SHALT NOT BULLY section and allocate it to teaching children a) about sex and b) about gender and c) about the difference between those two things.
Not just because every time I hear someone say something about ‘the opposite sex’ or ‘what’s your baby’s sex?’ I cringe. Because to me, the opposite sex is “no sex at all”, and my baby’s sex is “none of my business, unless they choose to involve me in that part of their lives someday”. So remember: sex is sexual activity, the act of sexual intercourse, or to determine the GENDER of something. Gender, on the other hand, is determined by how many X and Y chromosomes you have.
But. I may have ranted about this before. Why can’t we start teaching our kids about their bodies in grade one? At the same time they’re learning about the digestive system in grade four, why not learn how their bladders and colons work? Because it’s dirty. You can’t talk about the different genders because it’s dirty and naughty and wrong.
Except that it’s not. The problem lies squarely with the grown-ups in this scenario. Teachers are scared of offending parents. Parents are afraid teachers will think the children are being abused if they know “too much”. Administrators don’t want anybody to know anything. So sure, it’s up to us as parents to teach our kids about sexual intercourse. But it’s also our jobs as parents to teach our kids how to cross the street, how to sing the alphabet, how to eat, how to use the toilet…we don’t have a problem with all of that, do we? So what’s the big deal with teaching our kids about their bodies and about sex.
Now, to take a left turn here, what *really* makes me angry is that while my kid learns to be sensitive to others’ skin colour, religion, heritage, family’s marital status, etc., it’s not a big enough deal when a boy calls another boy ‘gay’ in a derogatory sense. Or says “don’t be such a fag”. And worse than that, when that boy KNOWS what he’s talking about – when he’s trying to tell my boys that homosexuality is somehow wrong or dirty.
Where’s the spokesfag at my kids’ school talking about sexual-orientation-based hate crimes? Why isn’t there a flashy movie about what it means to go through school and work and the rest of your life as a gay man or woman? How come there aren’t entire displays of books in the school library about anti-homophobic actions? Where is the “wear a rainbow shirt for anti-homophobia day”? Why is it that there are *absolutely no resources* available to straight *or* gay kids in elementary school?
Kids are going to be bullied. It’s part of growing up and it’s part of being an adult. I know plenty of bullies over the age of 20. They don’t just go away because we had a frank discussion about bullying. But maybe if there was someone at school saying: “you know what? Some people are attracted to people of the same gender, and some people are attracted to people of the opposite gender, and some people are attracted to both genders, and that’s just the way it is”, I wouldn’t feel like tearing out my hair every time I hear about one of the middle school kids trying to make my own kids scared to death of fags.