You will be made to care: Sex Ed Edition
Conservative columnist and radio host Erick Erickson coined the phrase “you will be made to care” to describe the tendency of big government supporters to assume that all people should adopt their world view.
The Star’s “letter of the week,” titled “Sensible Sex Education Works,” provided a perfect example of this concept. In it, a retired healthcare executive from Johnson County, Kansas, implored the state to take action on preventing unwanted pregnancies. Given that unwanted pregnancies are by definition unwanted, trying to decrease them seems like a good idea.
But he goes off the rails in his second recommendation when he argues that the state should “develop comprehensive sex education in our schools, with no opt-outs.”
No opt-outs. Your children will be made to care.
Now, I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill here—it’s not clear that the author has any particular sway with any local education system. Nor am I opposed to schools teaching sex education. But I am bothered by the principle that schools should be able to force certain value-laced information on children, parental preferences be damned.
Kansas City would not be the first place where such a battle might be fought. In Fairfax County, Virginia, it took huge parental outcry to get an opt-out provision in the district’s sex education curriculum. Our friendly neighbors to the north have created mandatory sex education programs. It’s not far-fetched to think that some school might try that here.
In 1925, the US Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters that children are “not mere creatures of the state.” Just because someone believes that a certain sex education program would decrease unwanted pregnancies, that doesn’t trump a parent’s right to shape their child’s education. If that means opting students out of sex education class, so be it.
But more than this, it should mean that parents have the right to opt out of the traditional public system entirely, and send their children to the charter or private school of their choice.