jasonbwatson

September 26, 2014

Misguided

This post contains explicit content that may be offensive to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Today I came across an article posted this past Wednesday on the web site of the Washington Times entitled “Las Vegas schools consider teaching kindergartners about masturbation, homosexuality.” I read the article and found it difficult to fathom that even in Las Vegas would a school board really think it was a good idea to pursue such a course. So from there I checked the web site of the Las Vegas Fox affiliate and found that they had posted a story on Tuesday called “School district considering big changes to sex ed curriculum.” Some of the information there was quite similar to the Washington Times piece, prompting me to think either it’s true or there is still more to the story that is being overlooked because it would be less sensational. So I decided to go straight to the source, so to speak, because the Fox story mentioned the following: “Some changes the school board may consider are outlined [in] a 112-page document called Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, which was put together by a national task force of educators and health experts.” I assumed such a report would be easy to locate and I found, within just a few keystrokes, that I was right. The document is available on siecus.org, the site of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. Much to my amazement, the document has a copyright date of 2004, which caused me to think right away that either no other school district is using these recommendations or the assertions about what the curriculum would teach kindergartners was inaccurate. So I determined to find out.

Along the way, I found some interesting things, none of which were encouraging. First, this report already contained, ten years ago, guidelines for teaching adolescents that some babies are born with genitals that do not match their chromosomes, which is basically another way of saying that some people are born transgendered. This is a means of supporting the rapidly-growing transgender movement in the United States which I have addressed elsewhere. The September 2014 issue of High School Today, the publication of the National Federation of State High School Associations, includes an article entitled “Developing Policies for Transgender Students on High School Teams.” The thrust of that article can be understood with these two sentences: “It is important for policy-makers to understand that transgender girls (who were assigned a male gender at birth) are not boys. Their consistent and affirmed identity as girls is as deep-seated as the gender identity of non-transgender girls.” This is what the guidelines I read through are teaching as well.

I read on. One of the developmental messages recommended by the guidelines for children at Level 1 (which the guidelines define as middle childhood, ages 5-8) is this: “Vaginal intercourse – when a penis is placed inside a vagina – is the most common way for a sperm
and egg to join” (p. 26). While this is true, do I want it being taught to my kindergarten student? Absolutely not.

One of the developmental messages for Level 2 children in the topic of reproduction is this: “Sperm determine the biological sex of the fetus.” Sounds safe, perhaps, but notice what it is really saying–the “biological sex” means that ones gender and biological sex are not necessarily the same, which means that, again, this guideline is paving the way for teaching transgenderism to students. And while the transgender message described above was for adolescents (ages 15-18) this one is recommended for Level 2, ages 9-12. Upper elementary school, in other words.

To be fair, the guidelines include some very good points about Body Image. Level 1, for example, includes this: “All bodies are equally special, including those that are disabled.” Level 2 includes, “Most people do not look like what the media portrays as beautiful” and this: “The value of a person is not determined by his/her appearance.” “The media portrays beauty as a narrow and limited idea but beautiful people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities” is a Level 3 message (ages 12-15).

But then it gets worse, again, because the next section/topic is Sexual Orientation. The Level 1 messages include teaching that people can be attracted to people of the opposite gender or of the same gender and that homosexuals are all called gay men and lesbians. At Level 2 the guidelines expand on heterosexual and homosexual to provide instruction about bisexuals, as well as this statement: “The origin of people’s sexual orientation is not known.” Really? Quite the worldview being assumed there…but at least it is relatively vague. That changes at Level 3, when one of the messages is this: “People do not choose their sexual orientation.” Level 3 also includes this message–“Many scientific theories have concluded that sexual orientation cannot be changed by therapy or medicine”–without any inclusion of the fact that there are also scientific theories which conclude that sexual orientation indeed can be changed.

The sexual orientation discussion gets very interesting at Level 4, though. For example, one of the messages is this: “Sexual orientation is determined by a combination of a person’s attractions, fantasies, and sexual behaviors.” This is interesting because we see a progression. At Level 2 students are told we don’t know where orientation comes from. At Level 3 they are told that, wherever it comes from, it is not a choice. And now, at Level 4, they are told, “this is where it comes from.” This is, to me, evidence of the tenuousness of the position, because if there were certain of where it comes from it would make absolutely no sense to develop curriculum guidelines that include telling elementary students “we do not know something” and then simultaneously include telling high schoolers, “we do know, and here it is.” This is akin to telling elementary students “Santa Claus is real” then telling them later “actually, he’s not.” If it were accurate, this would be prescribed lying. Since it is not accurate, it is simply a program for gradually preparing students to accept something that is not true.

Interestingly, though, Level 4 also includes this message: “The understanding and identification of one’s sexual orientation may change over the course of his/her lifetime.” Really? I agree with that, but here is why it is so interesting. If the identification and understanding of one’s sexual orientation can change that means that one’s sexual orientation can change, too–which means, quite simply, that sexual orientation is a choice.

Sadly, the final message in this section for Level 4 is this: “Civil rights for gay men and lesbian women are being debated in many states and communities across the United States.” As I have explained in this space on numerous occasions, homosexuality is not a civil rights issue. By teaching students that it is, though, we would be prepping them to approve the “equal rights” that homosexuals are increasingly demanding.

Well, the guideline is 112 pages long and, as of the paragraph above, I am only through page 31, so unless I want to bore you to tears I better get to the point and tell you whether or not the guidelines really do teach kindergarten students about masturbation. After all, that was launched this quest in the first place.

Sexual Behavior is Key Concept 4 in the guidelines. The developmental messages for Topic 1, Level 1 of Key Concept 4 are only two: “Most children are curious about their bodies” and “Bodies can feel good when touched.” Both of these statements are true and do not, explicitly, teach masturbation. I still would not want the school teaching my child this, but it is not as horrific as the reports made out. So I am relaxing a bit. But then I go to the next page. Topic 2 of Concept 4 is called, simply, Masturbation, and the developmental messages for Level 1 are as follows: “(1) Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation; (2) Some boys and girls masturbate and others do not; and (3) Masturbation should be done in a private place.” So there it is. The results are unmistakable and unavoidable–these standards do, in fact, advocate teaching kindergarten students what masturbation is and where it should be done.

Oddly enough, Topic 4, on Sexual Abstinence, does not include any developmental messages for Level 1, and includes this for Level 2: “Children are not physically or emotionally ready for sexual intercourse and other sexual behaviors.” Realize, please, what that means. It means that teachers are asked to explain to children ages 5-8 what masturbation is, but are not supposed to tell them until ages 9-12 that they are not mature enough, physically or emotionally, to engage in such behavior. And this makes sense how?

The information addressed here should cause real alarm among parents. True, in this instance we’re talking about Las Vegas, but it will not stay there. This report has been out for ten years, and it is from a national organization. This is simply the beginning of the path that public schools will soon be taking if we do not take a stand and say “No, you’re not teaching that to my child.” In fact, while we cannot and should not dictate what parents teach their own children, we should take a stand and say to schools, “You’re not teaching that to any child.”

September 24, 2014

No joke

This morning MSN posted an article on its web site by AP television writer David Bauder. The title of the article is “Rape joke on Fox cartoons draws attention.” Drawing attention would be entirely understandable, in my opinion, since there is, in my humble opinion, no such thing as a “rape joke.” The two terms are mutually exclusive. It simply is not possible to joke about rape.

The article explains that there is a much-anticipated crossover episode of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” scheduled to be broadcast on Fox this Sunday. In the episode, Bart Simpson is attempting to teach Stewie Griffin how to make a prank phone call. Such childish behavior has long been a staple of Bart Simpson’s schtick and the local tavern is usually his chosen target–as it is in the upcoming episode. As is often the case, Bart’s prank call results in the bar keeper calling out to the crowd in the bar what he thinks is a first and last name but is actually, in this case, a bit of bathroom humor. This is childish, immature and disgusting, but the same could be said of much of what alleges to be “comedy” on television today.

But this is where the line gets crossed. Bauder explains that Stewie is quite impressed by Bart’s prowess and wants to make a prank call of his own. So, he calls the same bar Bart just did and, when Moe the bar owner answers the call, Stewie says, “Hello, Moe? Your sister’s being raped.”

Dictionary.com defines “prank” as “a trick of an amusing, playful, or sometimes malicious nature.” Stewie’s statement, however, is neither amusing nor playful and it goes beyond malicious. It is insensitive and abhorrent. There is no excuse for such idiocy and for a major television network to think that such a line is acceptable on a television show marketed at families and aired during family viewing time is likewise inexcusable. If a student at any school in the country were to use the same line at school he or she would, I certainly hope, be disciplined. I know that if a student at the school where I serve were to utter such a “prank” he would receive a swift and significant consequence.

Amazingly, Fox does not see the line as inappropriate in any way. In fact, Seth MacFarlane, the creator of “Family Guy,” said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that he predicted getting some heat for the line, but, “in context,” he said, “it’s pretty funny.” Really? I find that statement unconscionable. I cannot fathom any context in which it would be funny to “joke around” about someone’s sister getting raped. Not only does MacFarlane find it funny, though, apparently programming directors at Fox do too, because the line is included in the commercial trailers for the upcoming episode! According to Bauder, Fox’s entertainment division said, through a spokesperson, that it would not comment on the line.

If what I have written above is not dumbfounding enough for you, it actually does get even more dumbfounding. Bauder also writes that Katherine Hull Fliflet, a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), “said she did not find the line offensive” (emphasis mine). Bauder quotes Fliflet saying that she thinks the show makes “it clear that rape is not funny by how they are positioning the joke.” Really? That does not even make sense. The only two ways the show could make clear that rape is not funny would be to (1) not joke about it in the first place, or (2) have Stewie be immediately and sternly lectured on the seriousness of rape and promptly disciplined for his ridiculous behavior. (I have to confess that I have never watched “Family Guy,” but my guess is that the idea of the parents on the show disciplining the children would be a foreign concept….)

RAINN’s web site touts that the group is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. It operates a National Sexual Assault Hotline. Actress Christina Ricci is affiliated with the group and is pictured on the RAINN web site homepage in front of a graffiti-style banner that says “Join the fight against sexual violence.” The site’s statistics page includes numerous statistics about sexual assault, including rape specifically, in an effort to ensure that the public is well informed about what sexual assault is and what can be done about it. How such an organization could not be repulsed by the “joke” about rape is far beyond my comprehension.

When Bauder quotes Fliflet saying that she thinks the show makes clear that rape is not funny she ends with, “It’s my hope that would be the viewers’ ‘take-away.'” Forget the take-away, here’s a better idea: stay away.

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