The Plague of Morally Toxic Public SchoolsBy Cathy Ruse Senior Fellow and Director of Human Dignity
Cathy Ruse is FRC's Senior Fellow for Legal Studies. This article appeared in Decision Magazine on February 1, 2020.
What would happen if a child were to spend most of his waking hours, during most of his formative years, in an institution bent on persuading him to adopt certain fundamental beliefs?
There is no mystery here. Children are easy to manipulate. They are eager to please, especially in a school setting where their grades and future careers depend on it. The child would eventually yield to the days and years of pressure and embrace the beliefs thrust upon him.
But what if those fundamental beliefs were at war with his family’s?
We should be speaking in the present tense, for this is what happens today—every day—to Christian children in America. While their parents sleep.
Many of America’s public school systems have become morally toxic, especially for the hearts and minds of children from religious families. So say authors Mary Hasson and Theresa Farnan in their bracing and deeply researched new book, “Get Out Now: Why You Should Pull Your Child from Public School Before It’s Too Late.” The threat does not come from the dedicated teachers who are just trying to do their jobs but from progressive ideologues who have become our nation’s education elites.
If you wonder why your fourth grader comes home sounding like a “social justice warrior,” you can thank the National Network of State Teachers of the Year for pushing a book list for elementary students with the themes of classism, racism, xenophobia, sexism and transgenderism.
Even while schools are becoming successful instruments for leftist social reform, they are failing at their core mission to educate children in basic academic subjects. The latest national assessment is “devastating,” says Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Two-thirds of American students can’t read at grade level, and reading scores have worsened in 31 states. “This country is in a student achievement crisis, and over the past decade it has continued to worsen, especially for our most vulnerable students,” DeVos says.
Sex education is the most obvious area for indoctrination. Well-funded international pressure groups have been extraordinarily successful at pushing “Comprehensive Sexuality Education” into American public schools, both in politically liberal and conservative regions. CSE promotes risky sexual behavior to vulnerable teens disguised as sexual “rights” and focuses on LGBTQ sexuality (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) as a victim class.
Lessons are carefully designed to encourage children to approve homosexual behavior and to reject the beliefs and the authority of their parents.
Examples are almost too graphic to print. Elementary children are taught that some people are born in the wrong body. Young teens are encouraged to experiment with anal and oral sex. High schoolers learn how to get secret abortions.
The indoctrination is not confined to sex ed lessons. The National Education Association wields tremendous power over the culture and character of America’s public schools.
Last year they invited the largest LGBTQ activist group in the country to co-sponsor their Read Across America day. NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia brought Human Rights Campaign spokesman Sarah McBride, a man who identifies as a woman, to share his transgender journey with kindergartners at a Northern Virginia public school without their parents’ consent. (Parents found out, but the school made no apologies.)
Mission America has researched the various celebrations that public schools now place on their calendars and found 15 for the 2019-2020 school year that involve sexual propaganda.
The third week of September was Bisexual Awareness Week, followed by Ally Week, during which students are pressured to declare themselves “allies” of students or teachers who identify as LGBTQ. National Coming Out Day was Oct. 11, and Oct. 16 was International Pronouns Day.
Speaking of pronouns, school policies that force students and teachers to use “preferred pronouns” are on the rise. It can mean forcing students to use “she” for males or invented pronouns like “xe” for the would-be genderless. One fifth grade teacher in Florida wrote a letter to parents explaining that her pronouns were “they” and “them.” “I know it takes some practice for it to feel natural,” she wrote, but the kids will “catch on.”
But it should never feel natural to call a single individual “they,” and no child should have to practice doing it. The transgender pronoun crusade must be taken seriously. Propaganda expert Stella Morabito says coercive speech practices have historically been used as a form of psychological manipulation. In public schools today, it is about enforcing conformity—conformity of feelings, attitudes, emotions, speech, beliefs and behavior. Nonconformity carries the threat of isolation—a terrifying notion to any child in school.
But it’s even worse than that for observant Christians. To be forced to use false pronouns is to be forced to declare acceptance of what we know to be untrue—that people can have a gender that is different than their physical body. That is a denial of God’s purposeful creation, which is a denial of God Himself. When government schools force Christian students to do this, it is tantamount to forced conversion.
Marriage and family scholar Pat Fagan sees a disturbing parallel in history. He says Christian kids in public schools today are reminiscent of the Janissaries centuries ago—14th century Christian children who were captured by the Ottoman Empire, forced to convert and turned into an elite army to battle the forces of Christendom.
Are children being converted and turned against their faith and families? It is difficult to conclude otherwise. Surveys show that college freshmen are less religious than ever—30% claim no religious belief.
This is not the result of the influence of some radical college professor. These are incoming freshman. It must be the result of factors in their childhood and adolescence. A strong case can be made that it is the result of the cumulative influence of 12 years of American public education.
Thirty years of surveys of over 100,000 children by the Nehemiah Institute show how decidedly Christian children who attend public schools lose their Christian worldview.
Fewer than 5% of children in the United States are homeschooled today. Approximately 11% attend private schools. The vast majority of American children are educated in public schools. And from their ranks will come our future teachers, doctors, lawyers, even presidents.
What happens in public schools really matters, to each student, to each family and to our nation. Because, as Abraham Lincoln said: “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of the government in the next.”