A former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, once famously quipped: “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”
Unless, it would seem, the “nation” means schoolchildren ages 12-17, and the “state” is local school board bureaucrats and/or the provincial Ministry of Education. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (Ontario, Canada) plans to issue a survey which asks, among other things, for children to disclose their gender (four choices) and sexual orientation (nine choices).
Proponents claim the survey is voluntary, but rather than requiring parental permission for the survey to be administered, the onus is on parents to opt out in writing (by Nov. 19), if they do not wish their child to participate.
Not surprisingly the survey, which runs Nov. 22 - Dec.10, has sparked controversy:
Some parents say the survey—which also asks about students' religion, their ethnic backgrounds, who they live with at home, and their parents' employment [and educational] status—is an invasion of privacy.
Although the survey is touted as being anonymous, each form is tagged with a code that can be traced back to the individual child, and, by extension, his or her family. Critics wonder what kind of inferences will be drawn, and who will have access to information that involves the cultural, religious, financial, and educational status of students’ parents.
The school board, predictably, claims that such delving into personal information is crucial, and ultimately for the students’ own good, so that the school can offer better anti-bullying and anti-homophobia programming.
One has to wonder: will their new and improved programming be geared towards the student population, or towards parents with traditional values?
“Everyone has the right to be heard,” says Barrie Hammond, the [Ottawa-Carleton] board's director of education. Does that include students and parents whose beliefs do not conform to the current ethos of the public educational establishment?
The state celebrates sexual and cultural diversity, so long as it conforms to the official definition of diversity. The state mandates tolerance, but tends to be intolerant of those views and beliefs that diverge from the party line. Parents and opposition politicians alike wish the schools would forget social engineering, and get back to basics.
Says Toronto Opposition Leader Tim Hudak: "I'm just not convinced that quizzing students as young as Grade 7 on sexual orientation has much to do with classroom education."
One Ontario mother summed it up: "Teach my child to read and write and speak French," said Pothier. "They don't need to know where my grandmother was born or what level of university I attained."
To that I would add: “And stay the heck out of my child’s bedroom.”