A free society puts parents above the state and educators. Thankfully, that’s what Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson wants to do.
While on the mid-August campaign trail, the Progressive Conservative premier proposed four new parental rights for the Public Schools Act:
- The right to be informed about curriculum.
- The right to be involved in addressing bullying and other behavioural changes.
- The right to advance notice about any presentations by people outside the school system.
- The right to consent before any image of a child is made, shared or stored.
It’s hard to argue with such changes, unless someone wants to foist agendas on children that parental scrutiny would not allow. Then again, it’s an election campaign, so opponents will at least try. NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Stefanson and her party were “trying to divide Manitobans” by “blowing a dog whistle about LGBTQ folks.”
But parents aren’t dogs, and the clash of values was not created by any politician. How should contentions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity teachings best be resolved? Is the answer to keep parents in the dark about their children’s education, lest they protest? Surely not.
An education system that would exclude parents to exercise its preferences already has a values problem. The belief that children belong to the state and not their families is contrary to the values of a free society. Alas, such divergent values have been espoused before.
In The Republic, Plato wrote, “Our men and women should be forbidden by law to live together in separate households, and all the women should be common to all the men: similarly, children should be held in common, and no parent should know his child, or child its parent.”
Plato believed that the family and other civic institutions not controlled by the state would threaten the utopian rulership of philosopher-kings. People with traditions and ideas of their own could only undermine such elites.
Last century, Cultural Marxists like German-American philosopher Herbert Marcuse, launched critical theory to wither western institutions to nothing and pave the way for a new society. The revolutionaries of the new left, he said, would be racial minorities, homosexuals, feminists, and university students.
In his 1955 book Eros and Civilization, Marcuse also called for “polymorphous perversity” to “liberate non-procreative eros.” Think beyond birth control to people whose sex cannot produce babies and you’ll realize where this leads. His concept of repressive tolerance has also taken hold, where all things leftist are tolerable and everything on the right is not.
Since Marcuse’s death in 1979, those university-educated leftist revolutionaries have flooded society. Some became professors to repeat the cycle. Community activist Saul Alinsky added another element in his 1971 book Rules for Radicals. “In a fight, almost anything goes,” he said, insisting that the only immoral tactic was none at all.
The embodiment of all this is a university educated feminist (ideally a racially ethnic minority and sexual minority) who believes western society deserves to be blown up by all means possible. From here, the values of the parents should and must be undermined lest the unjust society perpetuate itself.
Add the word “teacher” to this profile, and imagine the results. “Polymorphous perversity” is advocated in a “pleasure-based” approach to sexual education. Right becomes wrong, and wrongs are made into rights. Values are overthrown, the “common sense” is changed and free speech is cancelled.
The “new left” of past decades has become the “woke left” of today. Its revolutionaries are eager to influence educators, curriculum, governments, and students. Parents who disagree can only get in the way, so they are cut out. Issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender ideology (SOGI) are a great method to create this wedge between parents and children, their values and the next generation’s.
Imagine when a child, educated through social media and schools, starts to question whether their gender and sex match. If the young student thinks parents won’t approve “who they really are” (something difficult to define once biological sex is dismissed), the school equips and affirms the child all the way in an environment never allowed to be challenged. The parent is stripped of relationship, relevance, and respect, and left to feel like an entire system has ambushed them and their child.
None of this can happen in a parentally-informed and empowered environment, nor should it.
Although some credit New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs for starting Canadian momentum on parental education rights, Stefanson also seems a catalyst. Days after her parental platform was introduced, the Saskatchewan government made parallel announcements.
Third party sex-ed is out of Saskatchewan schools, parents must be informed on sexual health curriculum and have the right to withdraw their child, and schools must seek parental permission to change names or pronouns for students under 16.
Mom, dad, or guardian usually know what’s best for their child, and even when they don’t, it’s wrong for schools to keep them in the dark. After years of gender-affirming policies, it’s nice to see parents affirmed for a change.
Lee Harding is a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.