Jonathon Van Maren

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When academics propose ideas, they’re laying the groundwork. Case in point: Parental rights

Ideas that germinate at the universities often end up on the streets, in the classrooms, and dictating the agendas of those who walk the halls of power.
Wed Jan 27, 2021 - 9:58 am EST
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January 27, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — For decades, social conservatives have laughed off the craziest ideas emanating from the ivory towers of universities. Campuses were always out of touch; they were packed with liberals; they didn’t represent the real world. And all of that was true. But as it turns out, academics were playing the long game. They were playing for the culture.

As it turns out, the ideas that germinate at the universities often end up on the streets, in the classrooms, and dictating the agendas of those who walk the halls of power (think Critical Race Theory; neo-Marxism; queer theory). When academics propose ideas, we should perhaps squint at them more closely rather than simply laughing at them. They’re laying the groundwork.

Progressives have long been frustrated by the presence of homeschooling communities and private schools because they believe they have a right to educate your children with their worldview. A Harvard professor recently proposed banning homeschooling in order to reduce the influence of “conservative Christians,” and many governments are beginning to demand that Christian schools include LGBTQ sex education (or else).

Worse, parents and educators who oppose this push due to their Christian worldview are presented as a danger to their own children by radical activists. These activists do not believe in parental rights. The government — informed by them — has a right to the impressionable minds of your children.

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Another example of this is unfolding in Ireland, where University College Cork (UCC) lecturers Dr. Aoife Daly and Dr. Catherine O’Sullivan have co-written a paper articulating one of the more popular progressive views — that sex education is “primarily a child’s human right, independent of state discretion and/or parental rights.”

In other words, your children have a right to be exposed to their views, and if you object, you are violating their rights. To address this problem, the Irish media outlet Gript noted, the academics “have proposed overturning a parent’s right to decide if their child will attend sex-education classes.” As Gript put it:

Published in the Human Rights Quarterly, the pair insist that framing the issue of sex education as “a child’s human right” would overcome the problem of parents opposing it, or the “notion” that parents have a right “to withhold this education from their children if they see fit.” Alarmingly, in an interview about the paper, Dr. O’Sullivan also shared her argument for “the creation of a new defence for young people charged with sexual offences in the absence of comprehensive sexuality education. This would be an exception to the general rule that ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Of course, the two academics insisted that state sex education is essential to ensure children learn about consent (words like “family” and “marriage” were absent from their paper). The implication is that children taught by their parents or outside state schools will pose a danger to those around them; thus, parents are violating the rights of these children by not granting the state access to their children on matters of sexuality. It is a transparent play to force parents into allowing their children to be indoctrinated, but it is an effective and dangerous one, too.

As Gript put it:

Appealing to various court decisions, including from the European Court of Human Rights, the UCC academics claim that parental convictions which are “incompatible with human dignity” or that “conflict with the fundamental right of the child to education” are not protected under human rights law, thus providing them with a basis for arguing “that the dignity of children requires the provision of sexuality education even against the wishes of parents.”

The paper concludes with a clarion call to lawmakers and judges, urging that their deliberations shift away from balancing parental rights with state obligations, to focusing primarily on the supposed right of a child to access the sexual education content which these academics and others think best for the individual and society.

It is easy to laugh off the ideas of academics as crazy, unrealistic policy proposals that will never happen. The last two decades should disabuse us of that notion. Implementation often follows these ideas like thunder follows lightning.


  aoife daly, catherine o'sullivan, family, parental rights, university college cork

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