Warning: Graphic content included below.
When it came down to the wire in the battle over legalizing gay marriage in New York, the final sticking point was religious freedom protections.
In the end, four swing-vote Republicans supported it, citing assurances that sufficient protections for people of faith had been added.
But in the aftermath, it’s now abundantly clear that the promised protections were mainly a ploy to win votes, and they don’t really add up to real-life safeguards for everyday individuals—like the small-town marriage-license clerk and the limo driver—who are already agonizing over how they will follow their religious convictions.
One of “the most glaring omissions”—as Alliance Defense Fund attorney Austin Nimocks put it—is protection for parents, students and educators in public schools.
“It does not protect our children,” said Nimocks in an interview with the Baptist Press.
What does this mean exactly? What will the impact be in New York schools?
To understand the ramifications, we need look no further than Massachusetts—(keeping in mind the ripple effect could be far-reaching, as activists try to spin off the New York momentum to push for civil unions and gay marriage in other states like Colorado and New Jersey.)
First, a little history: Massachusetts was the first state to legalize full-fledged gay marriage. Not long after it was legalized, National Public Radio (NPR) featured an interview with an eighth-grade teacher, Ms. Allen, who was exuberant about her new-found freedom to talk about homosexuality in the classroom.
“In my mind, I know that, ‘OK, this is legal now.’ If somebody wants to challenge me, I’ll say, ‘Give me a break. It’s legal now,’ ” she told NPR.
The NPR reporter went on to explain that the teacher now discusses “gay sex” with students “thoroughly and explicitly with a chart.”
Ms. Allen herself offered more details about exactly how she explains this chart to kids: “All right. So can a woman and a woman kiss and hug? Yes. Can a woman and a woman have vaginal intercourse?, and they will say no. And I’ll say, ‘Hold it. Of course, they can. They can use a sex toy. They could use’—and we talk—and we discuss that. So the answer there is yes.” (You can listen to the interview here. )
It’s also disturbing to hear what’s happened at the elementary level. Consider the parents in Lexington, Massachusetts, who were upset to discover that their kindergarten and first-grade age kids had been exposed to books promoting homosexuality and same-sex marriage without their permission.
Even more worrisome were the school officials’ response to those concerns, as reported by The Associated Press: “Officials there say that since same-sex marriage is a part of life in Massachusetts, it comes up naturally and it’s impossible to notify parents every time the issue is discussed.”
“It certainly strengthens the argument that we need to teach about gay marriage because it’s more of a reality for our kids,” Lexington Schools Superintendent Paul Ash said. (“Gay Marriage Foes Face Issue in Schools,” Associated Press, May 5, 2006. )
Suddenly, the parents found that any control they once had over when, how and if their kids are exposed to controversial sexual topics had disappeared. One parent even went to jail after refusing to leave the school premises until educators promised to notify him before teaching his children about homosexuality. Obviously, he never got that promise. (Archived stories about the parent’s arrest are available here and here for a fee).
Even worse—the federal court system backed the schools’ complete lack of respect for parents.
In Parker vs. Hurley, Judge Mark Wolf basically concluded that since same-sex marriage is now part of Massachusetts society and culture, it can be taught to public school students without parental permission. So now, homosexuality lessons can be brought up in any Massachusetts classroom under any number of topics—such as “diversity” and “citizenship”—whether parents like it or not.
Here’s how the judge’s reasoning went: “Students today must be prepared for citizenship in a diverse society. … As increasingly recognized, one dimension of our nation’s diversity is differences in sexual orientation. In Massachusetts, at least, those differences may result in same-sex marriages.”
The judge even went on to conclude that the younger children are exposed to those topics the better—“As it is difficult to change attitudes and stereotypes after they have developed, it is reasonable for public schools to attempt to teach understanding and respect for gays and lesbians to young students …”
As we’ve said many times before, we wholeheartedly believe that all human beings should be respected as sacred creations of the loving God and equally protected from harm—and children should be taught that basic tenet.
But teaching “respect” should never translate to mandatory same-sex marriage and homosexuality lessons against parents’ will.
Sadly though, as Massachusetts so clearly illustrates, once same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, parents can lose all control over those decisions.
In light of these facts and public news accounts, is there really any serious question that legalizing gay marriage will tangibly and concretely affect our public schools? It’s simply disingenuous to claim otherwise.