“Forced” Indoctrination

I was arguing with one of my friends on Gather; we were specifically talking about laws in California with regard to teaching children about sexual orientation and gender diversity. Now this is a personal issue for me, for a number of reasons. One is simply that we have very similar laws regarding teaching in the province of Ontario,and I’m supportive of them. I’ve been in involved in a number of discussions about the subject lately, and feel it is very important to teach youngsters the truth about gender diversity. I have my own horror stories from when I was young: and I was sufficiently quiet (I know, hard to believe) that I did not get picked on very much. But I absorbed a lot of nonsense and misconceptions about LGBT people: even though I was one of them. I wish those had been corrected in school.

He called this kind of teaching “forced indoctrination” (hence the title). I’m not sure we’re on the same page here. I call teaching Sunday School to kids who don’t want to be there, “forced indoctrination”. I call preaching to the homeless before giving them some food, “forced indoctrination”. Teaching kids about the diversity of gender expression is not indoctrination at all, though I see the confusion. I’m sure that teaching about the equality of racial expression was considered “indoctrination” in the pre-civil war South. I’m sure that teaching about the equality of ethnic expression (especially Jews) was considered “indoctrination” in Nazi Germany.

The practical reason that this is important to me is, of course, the spate of bullying and suicides that have reached the news. Much though I continued to repeat this in my posts, it never seemed to get any traction. I can’t believe people are so uncaring about their children. Don’t they realize there’s a chance (my experience says one-in-ten, but many people quibble with the numbers) there’s a chance their kid will be queer? There’s a chance (much smaller, true, but still a chance) he or she will be bullied and/or commit suicide, for exactly the reasons we’re talking about? The blindness of some people boggles the mind. Religion (most of their arguments stem from people’s religious upbringing) is supposed to enlighten, not extinguish curiosity.

I wonder if this is what it was like to enter the dark ages?

One guy claimed I was trying to “oversexualize” his children. I had to laugh. He obviously doesn’t know me very well. The only thing I try to get too much of is books. Well, it used to be books: now it’s “subscriptions to online content” and “access to information”. That’s all I stand for. In an age when children learn “street-sexuality” whether parents want them to or not, I think it’s essential to give them access to the right information. It would seem that the same people who don’t want their children taught about gender diversity are the same ones who believe that if their kids aren’t taught about condoms, they’ll magically keep from getting pregnant.

I don’t know where we’ve developed this myth of the parent’s “right” to have sole input to a child’s upbringing. It’s certainly never been part of human experience before the last century; I don’t think it’s healthy. In most cultures and in our past, children picked up what they could from the streets and only the most privileged few got to attend school… where parents had little input on what was taught. Except for the windswept plains of the middle states, with kilometres between houses and each homestead bearing its own totalitarian kingdom (which Americans seem to idolize), children were educated by whatever means they could and whoever they met in their daily life. Today kids have the Internet and more possibilities than they know what to do with. They will explore and they find out about these things: I just pray it’s not painful when they do so. Parents who deny their kids information are doing them no service. When they hide their heads in the sand, they are being irresponsible to their offspring and their world.

The best method I’ve seen to raise children to be functional members of society is not a system of “one man and one woman”. That does not mean that I don’t think parents are important: but to have them be the only inputs into a child’s life is exhausting, under-stimulating and does not fully prepare that child for adulthood. Rather, the best system involves a community: a group of people who interact and share responsibility for the child’s upbringing. That does not mean parents’ aren’t paramount, but it does mean they’re not alone. The community should be balanced, unified and diverse.

“Unified” does not mean “uniform”. That’s what we’re trying to build. From what I’ve seen, it’s working in Canada, though we have some elements that are America-like. It’s unfortunate that some parents can’t see beyond their own limitations. Ultimately, they’ll just reproduce those limitations in their children.

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