The fierceness of the recent backlash to CRT and gender ideology in schools took the public education bureaucracy by surprise. The parental uprisings were the bill coming due for the activist agenda that had swept through public education in recent years. As the Black Lives Matter movement marched through American life in 2020, school boards—already dominated by progressives—redoubled their commitments to the most extreme pedagogical concepts involving race and gender, without pausing to consult parents.
In response, parents across the country began emerging as a formidable political force. Moms and dads suddenly were signing petitions, holding protests, and demanding answers from a school system grown accustomed to operating without parental scrutiny. In lieu of bake sales and library drives, parents were pulling together to lobby for curricular change. Read more
As cited by Pullmann, the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institute conducted a survey of 1,600 teens ages 11 to 18 in May 2022. Participants reported “using digital media an average of 10 hours and four minutes per day, on such entertainment activities as social media, video chat, texting, shopping, and gaming.” Researchers found that teens living with both their biological married parents spent an average of nine hours per day on their devices, while those in all other household situations were plinking away on their devices for nearly 11 hours daily. Read more
The most common books that school districts have restricted student access to include “Gender Queer,” “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” and “Out of Darkness.” These books have been criticized as pornographic and promoting LGBT content. For example, “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” a book aimed at adolescents, contains graphic descriptions of male homosexual sex.
PEN America argues that the removal of such books from school libraries “impede[s] free expression rights” and that such efforts do not “uphold free speech rights.” For PEN America, free expression rights “must be the bedrock of public schools in an open, inclusive, and democratic society.”
Such an understanding of free speech and free expression is wrong. Any sort of “free speech absolutism” that recognizes no limits is not the ideal for those concerned about ordered liberty. Men and women who care about their communities and their nation ought not to desire a public square that is laissez faire in its approach to speech. Just as true liberty is not license but liberty to do what is good, free speech is not freedom to degrade public morals. Speech expresses morals, and some morals — some ways of life — are beyond the pale for societies that are oriented to what is good and right and true. Read more