Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Homosexuality and Junior High Civics

My oldest son is a student at one of the junior highs here in Fort Smith. A week ago he came home and told me that his civics teacher shared her views on homosexuality in class. The gist of her comments were that it's okay for people to be gay and that there is nothing wrong with it. She also made another comment that later in the year they would be discussing this more in class. My son took it that it would be a part of the class material in the future. Apparently the comments of my son's teacher not only caught his attention but also the attention of others as it was a topic of discussion among my son's peers over lunch that same day. A very good friend of my son's (who is also a member of our church) commented over lunch, "Doesn't the Bible say that homosexuality is wrong?"

My son came home telling me all this and several thoughts went through my mind and have been running through my mind over the course of the last week.

First, I am thrilled that my son feels free to come home and share all these kinds of details with me. It could very easily not be this way.

Second, I was struck that, even though he is only in junior high, he has officially joined the "big leagues" of the adult world. It doesn't get more cutting edge, culturally, than a discussion on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality.

Third, I was reminded of the tremendous influence teachers have over students. I have no problem at all with teachers, through the course of a school year, letting students see who they are as people. Even if they do not represent the values we teach in my home. This is all a part of life and I know that I can't keep my children in a bubble. At some point they need to learn how to interact with the world and I would rather them learn this while under my roof and under my guidance than later in life when they go to college.

Fourth, I am very concerned that there would be an extended discussion on homosexuality in the future as part of any class unit. This is a civics course. My brother who teaches civics in an adjacent town served on the task force that wrote the course standards for civics for the State of Arkansas. I checked with him and he assured me there is NO unit on homosexuality as part of the civics curriculum. They will not be tested on it at year end and it is not a bench mark. I am further concerned because any discussion or education on homosexuality in a civics class would prohibit including the Bible and its teachings on the basis of church/state separation, thus it would be an incomplete discussion or education.

Fifth, I was struck by a desire that my son expressed that he really wants to see his teacher bring the topic up again because he wants to debate her from his biblical worldview. This makes me very proud as a father. This whole thing has caused my son and I to talk a lot about homosexuality, why some people think the behavior is okay and why we as Christians do not based on the clear teaching of God's Word. We've talked about how people become gay, are they created that way or is it learned. We've talked about why God prohibits the behavior. And we've talked about God's best for all people, even people who are oriented toward same sex attraction. It's not necessarily the kind of thing I was looking forward to him bringing home from civics, but overall it's been a healthy experience…for my child. Obviously this may not be the case for others in the class.

Sixth, I am reminded that I have to watch very carefully to see what is really going on in my children's classroom(s). I am their parent and I am charged to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

My son's civics teacher is a wonderful woman. My son just loves her as a teacher (he had her last year as well), and he says that she claims to be a Christian. All the interaction I have had with her these last couple of years through conferences and open houses has been positive and professional. In no way is this blog post an attack on a very good teacher.

But, I also want my son's civics teacher to, first and foremost, teach him CIVICS. I have no doubt she is, and the personal social commentary, while appropriate at certain times in the course of a school year, should not make its way into the curriculum of the course.

My wife and I pray for all our children's teachers.

And we will continue to do so…and watch as well.



1 comment:

Sassylassy5 said...

I am praying for you as I do all families today. I also pray for teachers, Christians and non-christian alike. It is so important that we teach our children and their parents in our churches how to face these issues and how respond in Christ's love. Most of all it is important that we know and internalize what God says about the issues of today. We are taught that it is wrong to speak up because we are being intolerant and unloving. We are where we are today I am afraid because we Christians have been much too tolerant. Thank you for being bold in your teachings yet loving in your approach.