By Jonathon Van Maren
The commentary surrounding the decision of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government to respond to parental requests and repeal former Kathleen Wynne’s radical sex education curriculum has been predictably infuriating. First, there is NDP leader Andrea Horwath (who has been spurned by the voters of Ontario in her attempts to become premier many times), who has labeled the PC government’s creation of an accountability system that allows parents to report on what their children are being taught as a “snitch line,” since she and her union buddies apparently don’t want the actual parents of children finking on teachers should those teachers decide to ignore the sex-ed repeal and pretend that Kathleen Wynne is still premier, or that Horwath had been elected instead of Ford.
And then there’s the news coverage, which has been even more bizarrely one-sided than usual. The media, which has already picked up on Horwath’s “snitch” smear, as if parents were tattle-tales for wanting some measure of input into what their children are taught, is in universal agreement: Doug Ford and the parents that he represents are bigoted cavepersons and should be condemned as such. Consider this little snippet from earlier this week in the Toronto Star, penned by the columnist Rick Salutin (who, despite his wokeness, is in his late seventies):
On his decision to kill Ontario’s first updated sex-ed curriculum in 20 years, Doug Ford said he was going to put parents’ rights first. My question is: Who’s going to put kids’ rights first? This matters because for many kids, their biggest problem is their parents.
The natural answer to “Who’s going to put the kids’ rights first?” is “their parents, you idiot.” But Salutin is way ahead of you—it is parents, you see, who are the big problem for kids. Parents, for example, might not tell them about masturbation when they are small children, or let them know that it is possible for them to switch genders. That’s what we need state-funded education for. More:
I don’t mean kids don’t love their parents but they know parenthood is a difficult, confusing phase. Most parents today grew up when no one talked about consent, LGBT, gender or cyberbullying. The last people you should talk to first are parents.
The first people you should talk to are kids. The second people are their teachers. If you thought parents knew everything, you wouldn’t even need teachers or schools, you could leave it all in the home. You can talk to parents, but the smart ones will say: “Have you talked to my kids and their teachers? What did they tell you?” Those parents probably already have.
Salutin is proof that the progressive social engineers are precisely what many parents fear they are: Condescending totalitarians who genuinely think that parents are too stupid to have any reasonable input on what their children get taught. In fact, parents are probably so burdened down by archaic worldviews and traditions that they should be skipped entirely, and the children should be asked directly what it is that they want to be taught—and just in case the fact that they are children should mean that they might be unclear as to which ideological boxes they should tick, the teacher’s unions are there to help. Don’t worry about the parents at all, says, Salutin—the smart ones will agree with him, anyway.
The parents Doug Ford is going to talk to probably haven’t. They just tell their kids what to do. It’s my experience that traditional, authoritarian parents tend to be people who had rigid, unlistening parents themselves and went through predictable teenage rebellions before turning into their own parents, as Doug Ford seems to have done.
This takes us right back to the 1950s when guess who knew best? Father. They’re really just recreating patriarchy in Ford Nation.
Leaving aside for a moment that fact that it has been well over half a century since Salutin was a child, pay attention to what he is saying here: “Traditional, authoritarian parents” should be dismissed as “rigid” and, essentially, unfit. And who do you think he is referring to? He is referring to those parents that he disagrees with, especially on some of the more controversial aspects of the sex education curriculum. He believes that his worldview should be taught to other people’s children, because they are too stupid to understand that he is right and they are wrong. If you listen to the parents, he drones irritatingly, we’re going to go back to the hellish 1950s when “Father knew best” and “patriarchy,” whatever that means, reigned supreme. Now, don’t you want your kids to learn that stuff?
It is disgusting the way parents are being so universally slandered without the slightest bit of pushback from anyone in the media. The consensus appears to be airtight: Teacher’s unions, Kathleen Wynne, the NDP, and columnists at the Toronto Star know what is best for kids, and they say that parents do not (unless those parents happen to agree with them, of course), so that is that. One woman on Twitter responded to Salutin’s column by tweeting at Doug Ford: “parents not comfortable w the curriculum always had a right to opt out. But now you’ve taken away my parental right to opt in. Be frank: its not about rights; it’s about ideology.”
This is precisely wrong, at least in the sense that this has anything to do with Ford’s ideology. This woman has every right to teach her children whatever she wants. She can opt her kids into whatever worldview she chooses. What she is protesting is the fact that her worldview won’t be the default for everyone’s kids—that it will not simply be assumed that she is correct and that her perspective should be entrenched in the curriculum. If diversity is our strength, as the impeccably progressive Trudeau always likes to assure us, then it must be recognized that Ontario is home to many communities with many different views on many different issues, and that schools allowing parents to address certain things is precisely the way to respect that diversity.
Again, it is important to remember that parents can teach their children whatever they want. If parents want to teach their kids about gender fluidity and various sexual practices at a young age, they are free to do so. This is about a handful of parents and their ideological allies demanding that such things be taught not just to their children, but to all children. That is what this fight is all about—and that is why the parents who refuse to agree with them are being slandered by progressive politicians and the media.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.