The right to make your child ignorant.

A Greek Orthodox man in Hamilton is suing the Hamilton School Board because they refuse to notify him when his children’s teachers are about to teach family, marriage or human sexuality in class. He says that he wants to be able to teach his children what his religion believes and that because other religions, such as Muslim or Jehovah’s Witnesses can be excused from certain subjects, others, such as Christians should be afforded the same courtesy.

the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods” – Oxford Dictionary

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” – Dictionary.Com

Why this is happening? Because of a recently passed bill, Bill 13 to be exact, parents of strict religious opinions are concerned that the anti-bully bill promotes acceptance of all types of diversity, some of which the parents disagree with on religious grounds.

At the very essence of this movement is the power of a parent to decide what their child is taught at school, and what should be taught at home, based upon the religious beliefs of the parent. So if there is a health lesson concerning medical procedures and pain killers, Scientologists may choose to keep their children away from school. Satanists would probably prefer it if their offspring did not hear about the word of God. As for those parents who practise Witchcraft as their religion, their children’s attendance record won’t win any awards.

While every parent should have the right to have their children raised how they wish, there is a difference between raising a child and teaching a child. It often seems that parents believe that teachers should be raising their children as well as teaching them. A child who is raised as a Christian will interact with friends of different religions, unless forbidden by their parents, so why not learn about these other religions in an unbiased settings, such as a school, as to better understand both the religion and their friend?

If someone’s belief is strong enough, it should be able to withstand a couple of lessons on another religion. Avoiding something that your religious beliefs do not agree with does not make that something disappear. It only makes it more difficult for you to deal with when faced with it.

The other possible issue is that rather than having someone who has been trained, has text books to work from, and has other teachers to refer to, the parent is choosing to educate their child by themselves. Yes, parents should want their children to be raised right, with the beliefs they want them to believe, but raising a child isn’t the teacher’s job. The teacher teaches knowledge, and if that knowledge doesn’t match up with a parent’s religious belief, then that parent should trust that their child will understand the difference between their belief and what they are being taught?

Taking them out of class means that future generations may not understand about their next door neighbour, their co-worker, perhaps someone that they will fall in love with. If children are not taught in school that the country that they live in allow same sex marriages, how will a child react if they are invited to a class mates birthday party only to be greeted by that child’s two mothers or fathers? By not allowing a child to have a diverse education, the parent may be limiting how that child is able to interact with others.

I was raised in a Christian setting, although my parents are overtly religious. I went to church for Christmas service, in school they said the Lord’s prayer every day. I was undecided in what I believed in so I went along, with an open mind, learning for myself what religion was. I work in a very religious workplace and while my personal views do not line up with the majority, I do not see any form of conflict. I respect my co-workers religion, I don’t question it and nor do I try to make them see things from my point of view. Why would I? They are happy with theirs, I am happy with mine.

I have faith that my children will learn all that they can from their teachers, and that when they leave school, they are comfortable with all religions, sexual identities and can decide for themselves what they believe in. We send children to school to learn, not to be pulled out to avoid learning something that the parent disagrees with.–stock-letter-asks-school-to-warn-when-sensitive-subjects-arise

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  1. I think the problem is that as a taxpayer, this parent has no input into what his children are taught, how these topics are taught, when they are taught, and by whom.
    If those who objected to Prayer in our Public Schools, had the ability to have morning prayers removed from schools across this country, it seems such a small thing for this parent to insist that he be notified when topics with which he disagrees, are going to be taught.
    Just because they won’t be taught to his children in school, doesn’t mean that they won’t be taught.
    The omnipotence shown by the whole School system is a symptom of the “Professionalization” of sectors of our society – the belief that only the schools can teach our children what they need to know.

  2. Just because we don’t like something, or it doesn’t suit us, doesn’t make it wrong.

    Prayer was not removed from schools because of any anti-christian bias. It was removed from schools because our charter of rights wisely keeps government and religion separate. Schools, being operated by government, fall into the ‘government’ definition and therefore, can’t advocate one religion over another. (Because of this, the funding of separate Catholic school boards is a debate that goes back to the 1840s).

    We forget in this global world that the separation of church and state was deemed a good idea because of conflicts between the two main religions of the day; Protestantism and Catholicism.

    The addition of non-Christian faiths to our society – and the successful separation of church and state – has moved the focus away from divisions within Christianity but the reason is the same; religion causes far more division than unity. We have enough trouble with right and left political leanings. Having political parties, and thereby governments, aligned with religions would be disastrous.

    This parent does have choices, including the right to change schools, change communities and to home school. Some might be extreme, but they are choices and he can decide what’s most important to him. Like any choice, it comes with pros and cons that are not necessarily the responsibility of the community to deal with. I’m grateful for a society that makes many choices easier, but the choice and its consequences are for the individual.

    I think the recent legislation passed in several provinces put the lie to any claim of ‘omnipotence’ by a school system. To demonize professionalism is sophistry; professionalisation brings standards, accreditation and accountability that ensure consistency and quality that then help the child become an independent contributing member of society.

    To complain about this discounts the necessity for many families of having a) someone better qualified than they to educate their children and b)a safe place where their children can spend the day while their parents work.

    No system is perfect. But this one works pretty well.