It's a rare, if not historic pushback—tens of thousands of people across the Canadian province of Ontario are announcing loudly that they oppose the new sex education curriculum proposed by the province’s premier, Kathleen Wynne. Large numbers of protestors have made their voices heard in front of Wynne's office, in front of the provincial legislature at Queen's Park, and at the offices of Members of Provincial Parliament across the province. Harking from every culture and ethnic group, the protestors are demanding one thing: Let kids be kids.
The entire phenomenon is startling for a number of reasons. First of all, school systems have been implementing sex education programs that parents have disliked or outright opposed for decades now—but never has a movement of this size and tenacity congealed around opposing a curriculum and the politicians seeking to implement it, until now.
Second of all, this movement is not made up simply of the “usual suspects” – socially conservative Catholics and Protestants – but rather, includes huge numbers of Indo-Canadians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Chinese immigrants. Perhaps Wynne's sex-ed curriculum is simply the straw that broke the camel's back, one tiny step too far for tens of thousands of parents who are sick of our politics and education being dominated by discussions of sex that are often in direct conflict with the values parents seek to pass on to their children in the home.
Peter Hitchens: “We find that despite the greater and greater extent of sex education in our society…the number of people becoming pregnant when they didn't want to continues to rise and the number of people contracting sexually transmitted diseases continues to rise.”
Many of those parents, of course, fundamentally oppose the idea that the school system or the State has any business imparting “education” on sexual matters and their accompanying post-modern values to their children. That is, they say, not the task of the education system. And when the government disagrees, it simply increases their suspicion that another agenda is at play—that it is not simply the mechanics of sex that the State wants to teach, but rather the idea that all sexual activity is morally permissible and that these ideas should be ingrained into children at a very young age to ensure that they stick.
Peter Hitchens, a well-known journalist, author, and cultural commentator from Great Britain, has had much to say about the idea of modern sex education in his various writings and media interviews. For more insight into how modern sex education in the West came about, I interviewed him for a one-hour special on my radio show, The Bridgehead. According to his analysis, the suspicions of many parents are absolutely correct. In his view, the entire concept fails on its own terms.
“The problem with sex education,” he told me by phone, “is that the ostensible purpose for which it is advocated turns out not to be true. I did a sort of study a few years ago of the development of sex education in my own country, and what I found is that it's been justified really since the middle part of the Second World War, when of course there were a lot of venereal diseases, on the basis that if people were better educated about it, then it would reduce the amount of sexually transmitted disease and the amount of unwanted pregnancy. And yet if you watch the figures for both sexually transmitted disease and for unwanted pregnancy, and increasingly now for abortion, we find that despite the greater and greater extent of sex education in our society, more and more frankness about sex, and more and more pornography (which is also supposed to end repression), the number of people becoming pregnant when they didn't want to continues to rise and the number of people contracting sexually transmitted diseases continues to rise.”
This is partially because, as National Post columnist George Jonas pointed out in his column, that educating young people in an activity will of course increase that activity. Thus, the risk of abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and early-age pregnancy will only go up. If sex education's intent, however, is not simply to prevent these things, but rather to re-educate, then it still can suit the purposes of the State.
“It's said,” Hitchens noted, “that Gyorgy Lukas, who was commissar for education in the short-lived Bela Kun Soviet Government in Hungary in 1918, openly said that the purpose of sex education when he introduced it then – I think he was probably the first person to do so – was to debauch the minds and morals of religiously-brought up young women particularly. It seems to me to make a certain amount of sense…because the kinds of things that people are taught in sex education are disinhibiting things. When I was in school no one ever mentioned masturbation. It would have been extremely bad manners to mention it anywhere, let alone for an adult teacher to talk to quite young children about it and about other sexual practices in class. The moment these things start being discussed, it disinhibits people, it takes restraints off them that previously were there. Now you may believe, and a lot of people do believe and have believed for many years, that these inhibitions are bad for us. That's a point of view, I don't happen to share it, and if you follow that belief as a parent, I suppose you're entitled to introduce your child to this sort of thing as early an age as you wish in a free country, but what bothers us in many cases [is that] parents don't realize what is being done in classrooms until after it's happened.”
Parents across Ontario, it seems, are discovering precisely what it is that their children are being taught and what the Government of Ontario would like to teach to their children, and are balking hard. One of the reasons is quite simple—they know that teaching children about sex without correlating value judgments is, as Hitchens pointed out to me, disinhibiting.
“Discussing these things in the way that they're discussed [makes these] things sound normal,” Hitchens pointed out. “So it's assumed that children will have underage sex or unmarried sex or promiscuous sex, and it's assumed that they will do so, and all the precautions they're supposed to take is based on this idea that this will happen. 'If you can't be good, be careful.'”
That, of course, is why our schools are so involved in handing out condoms and ensuring ready access to birth control pills—because it assumes that people, even children, are entirely incapable of abstaining from sex outside of marriage. Sex education, in essence, proceeds directly out of that assumption. And that assumption is very much promoted by our current political class.
“There is politics in sex,” says Peter Hitchens. “Much of those politics are about…the family and the State. The state is increasingly hostile to the strong family, and the strong family is sustained by lifelong marriage and by a pretty stern and puritan attitude towards sexual relations—whereas the strong state benefits in many ways, as does modern commerce and the modern employer, from weak marriages and relaxed sexual relations. There's also the point that Aldous Huxley makes, which is that we are increasingly going to embrace our own enslavement in the pursuit of pleasure, which I believe actually the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm made…that there is absolutely no congruence in human history between sexual freedom and political freedom. Slaves have always been allowed to copulate, what they haven't been allowed to do is marry.”
“And this,” Hitchens continued, “is an extremely important point. There is no necessary connection between a society which is sexually free and sexually uninhibited, and a society that is politically free and has free speech and freedom of assembly, it doesn't necessarily follow at all. So we're all doing it with a very, very profound philosophical battle about the nature of society, and it needs to be conducted in a very serious fashion. The difficulty is in finding anyone to give you a hearing.”
It's a fascinating perspective, especially coming from someone who was once a radical Trotskyist. When I pointed this out to him, Hitchens responded by noting that this is precisely the reason he is so well-versed in the way the Left thinks and does business.
“I decided to stop believing it because it seemed to me to be morally wrong and highly dangerous,” Hitchens told me. “But the great advantage which it gives me is that I know what left-wing people say and think in private when they're not trying to please people on television shows. I know just how dogged and devastating this project is, which they want, and I know that the fundamental engine of left-wing activity, really since the 1960s, has not been to seize the post office and the barracks and the railway station, it's been to seize the television station and the newspaper and the university, and to obtain victory through capturing the minds of people, and also to alter society not through the nationalizing of railways, but through the nationalizing of childhood.”
The nationalizing of childhood. A chilling idea, but one that makes much sense. Giving to the State and its education system the task of teaching children what to believe and which values to hold, and you've essentially co-opted the family structure.
“When they say children should speak for themselves,” Hitchens pointed out, “what they actually mean is that the parents should be removed from the discussion. They don't actually want them to speak for themselves, they want the children to do what they want them to do, and they know the parental home is the biggest obstacle to this thing.”
This is why many states seek to ban practices that threaten this goal, like homeschooling: “There's a certain amount of it in Britain, it's actually illegal in Germany to this day because of the National Socialist law passed under Hitler, which has never been repealed, and attempts are being made to restrict it in Britain. They're in their infancy, but they're on their way, and I think parental resistance to it on that scale is probably the only effective answer. You say, 'Alright, well if you feel that this is how you want to drive your power into my home and into my life, then I thank you very much, but I'm not going to let you. We'll educate our children at home.' And quite honestly, I don't know what your public school system is like, but if it's anything remotely like ours, it'll probably come up with a much better general education on top.”
Parental resistance is, at the end of the day, the answer to the State's attempt to educate and red-educate children. And the historic pushback of Ontario parents against Premier Kathleen Wynne's radical sex-ed curriculum is a positive step in the right direction. Protests, pressure, and eventually, homeschooling may all be necessary. But seeing huge numbers of people wake up to the reality of what the education system is attempting to do is hugely encouraging way.
As Hitchens said: “Be incredibly vigilant. [Do] not assume that these things are being passed on. A mistake I might say I made, was not to realize until quite late on, just how serious the problem was. It is very serious. Find out what they're telling the children. You'll be surprised, and not necessarily favorably, and having found out, see what you can do to make sure that you can pass on that which you inherited and which is our fundamental duty to pass on to the next generation. Because if you don't do it, nobody else will.”
NOTE: Part 2 of my analysis of sex education will be coming next week.