Recently the Helena Public Schools’ plan to teach an expanded sex-ed program has hit some pot holes. Unfortunately, there was widespread opposition to the plan when the details were released. Some people believe it is their duty to use the classroom to teach kids about sexual orientation rights. They want kids to have a better understanding of those who are gay in the hopes of lessening the societal stigma attached therewith.
The struggle for rights is the story of America. Instead of trying to censor the conversation, shouldn’t we amplify the discussion on the battle for a wide variety of rights? If we are to raise up a generation of critical thinkers, then we must challenge our young students to question all answers and to seek the truth for themselves. Exposing kids to controversial topics does not mean that there will be universal agreement, but encouraging them to form their own opinions is a vital part of their lifelong learning process. Limiting the conversation on rights to sexual orientation and sexual freedom is doing our youngsters a great disservice.
While we are at it, let’s include some other rights, which are under constant attack in this country for the classroom as well. Shouldn’t we augment the teaching of our U.S. Constitution by discussing the first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights? If the kids learn that the 2nd Amendment is not about hunting, they will grasp with great clarity how timeless the right to bear arms is.
Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman political writer who lived from 106-43 BC. He is credited frequently by the founding fathers for identifying the universal rules for a great and just society termed Natural Law. Natural Law simply codifies the “rules of right conduct.” Some of the tenets of natural law that might be familiar to you include unalienable rights, habeas corpus, limited government, family, the institution of marriage, and the right to bear arms among many others. You see the right to defend yourself, your family and your property is one of many checks and balances that is essential to maintaining a free and respectful society. Although hunting is a great sport, when you get down to brass tacks, the Second Amendment is not about hunting. Understanding the rights of our U.S. Constitution would be a solid foundation upon which to build a discussion of other rights.
The Helena school board was also trying to gird our kids with the knowledge to increase their chances of remaining disease free and of eliminating accidental pregnancies. They were simply trying to keep students safe. Likewise, if we equip students with basic gun safety knowledge, we can also keep them safe from the improper use of guns. Students could learn in an age-appropriate way to secure and disarm a gun if found. This knowledge would help to prevent accidents now and in the future. Additionally, few things give a well-trained vulnerable young lady a better chance against a would-be rapist than the proper use of a handgun.
Does the idea of discussing the merits of individual gun rights in the classroom seem inappropriate? Don’t worry; that is just one form of bias. Others felt the same way about the teaching of homosexual rights and sexual freedom rights. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to confront what he or she considers to be taboo topics.
A Helena school expanded sex-ed type program will again appear before us. If the curriculum is too narrow in its scope, critics will be able to successfully assert that it is indoctrination and not education.
We should seize the opportunity to discuss a greater diversity of rights and responsibilities in the classroom.
Rick Dow lives in Havre.