Spain Found Its Voice. Will We?

Over in Spain, the Vox (“Voice”) party is standing up for parents’ rights in education. Vox is promoting a policy that allows parents to opt their children out of “talks, workshops or activities with an ideological or moral leaning against their leanings”.

Not surprisingly, the policy in defense of parental rights has sparked a firestorm from pro-LGBT advocates in Spain. And also not surprisingly, the rhetoric around the issue has slipped into Orwellian double-think, where it is difficult to keep track of what is actually going on.

To listen to the protests of pro-LGBT advocates, Vox’s attempt to uphold the parental right to choose what sexual content their children are exposed to at school is tantamount to fascism. Eight education leaders from the Spanish Socialist Party accused Vox of trying to impose “blind and uncritical authoritarianism.” The Spanish education minister asserted that children are not the property of parents, implying that while the state has the right to teach children whatever it wants, parents do not.

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In lobbing accusations of authoritarianism and fascism at Vox, these LGBT advocates miss—or disguise—the truth. Vox isn’t authoritarian: their opponents are.

This is a crucial element to the discussion about parents’ rights: when the state starts mandating moral education for children that goes against parents’ beliefs, it has started down the road towards totalitarianism. The language of the debate in Spain is telling—whereas Vox is advocating for parents to have the right to choose what content their children are exposed to, pro-LGBT ministers and advocates are pushing to eliminate that choice. They accuse Vox of hate and homophobia simply for saying that parents might have a variety of views on issues of sex and gender.

American parents would do well to sit up and take notice of this clash, because this fight is coming to our shores—and fast. State governments across America seem to think that they and not the family have the right to facilitate children’s moral education. Even now, children in many American public schools are regularly exposed to graphic, progressive sex ed curricula that directly undercut Catholic and Christian teachings about sex and gender. These curricula often include graphic descriptions of sexual acts, photographs of symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, and lesson plans affirming same-sex attraction, sexual experimentation, and transgenderism.

It is especially important for Catholic parents to be aware of what is going on, because the Church is crystal clear in teaching that parents—not the state—bear responsibility for the moral education of their children. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially: the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family’s own moral and religious convictions… the freedom to profess one’s faith, to hand it on, and raise one’s children in it.

The family is truly the basic unit of society, and it is within the family that children begin to learn about morality, truth, and justice.

But this truth about the family’s role in moral education is in danger of being totally overwhelmed by government intervention. More and more states are moving in an authoritarian direction of mandating curriculum content. Last year, my home state of Colorado passed a law requiring that all public schools, including charter schools, that teach sex ed adopt a state-wide curriculum in which teachers are required to teach that any sexual activity is fine as long as everybody involved has consented—never mind that this is being taught in elementary school classrooms starting in fourth grade when children are usually around nine or ten years old. This year, parents in Washington State are protesting an even more extreme bill that would require all public schools to teach state-mandated sex education containing similar progressive content… starting in kindergarten.

Beyond state-level sex-ed curricula, public schools have begun hosting drag queens as guest speakers in elementary schools. An organization called Drag Queen Story Hour sends drag queens to classrooms to spread transgender indoctrination, reading stories like Jacob’s New Dress and Red: A Crayon’s Journey, in which a crayon “mislabeled” as red learns to identify as his true color of blue.

Now, in most states, parents still have the option of whether to have their children participate in sex education, including indoctrination events like Drag Queen Story Hour. This requires them, however, to be aware of what is going on in the classroom—and information from schools is not always forthcoming. Many parents only find out when their children come home with disturbing new ideas and questions. In August 2017, a teacher at a school in California staged an event “reintroducing” a gender-confused five-year-old boy to his classmates as a girl. The event was complete with a midday change of clothing from pants to a dress and a classroom reading of two books affirming transgender behavior. Parents had no idea this was going to happen and were shocked when their five-year-olds came home from school, some of them terrified that they might spontaneously switch sexes if they weren’t careful.

The alleged parental option—unless there is a substantial increase in communication from schools—simply does not give parents enough say in their children’s moral education. And it does not take much imagination to picture the ability to opt-out going away entirely. Just last month, California rejected a bill to switch the state’s sex education from an “opt-out” system to an “opt-in” system, which would have given parents much more say in what content their children are exposed to. Right now, only four states have opt-in systems, which means that thirty-five, plus the District of Columbia, have opt-out ones. Complicating the situation is that eighteen states do not require sex ed material to be made available to parents—meaning that parents may encounter problems in trying to find out what their children will be taught.

In other words, states are making it difficult for parents to be even minimally involved in their children’s moral education. And things will probably get worse rather than better. As the situation in Spain shows, it is only a small step from saying that the state has a responsibility to ensure that all public school curricula include this content to saying that the state has a responsibility to expose all children to it regardless of their parents’ moral convictions.

Image: Vox leader Santiago Abascal (Getty Images)


  • Jane Clark Scharl

    Jane Clark Scharl is a senior contributor at Crisis. Her work has previously appeared in National Review, The American Conservative, and The Intercollegiate Review.

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