As a father of four, board-certified physician, Marine Corps veteran and former student in the public school system of California, I have a few points I would like to make, regarding a recent Journal Star editorial (“Health standards fight teaches wrong lesson,” Sept. 9).
In the first sentence of the editorial, the writers say that students “desperately need to learn about health.” I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. What I do not agree with however, is how they use the term “health.”
As a physician, this term means a lot to me. I am charged with the duty of ensuring my patients have a very strong focus on their overall health and well-being. Teaching kids about healthy eating and taking care of their bodies is important. How far should a school delve into the depths of “health”?
I am of the mindset that schools need to teach the academic basics. They need not get involved in the areas that are more appropriately addressed by their healthcare providers and parents. What we do not need is further obfuscation on the topic of “health.”
Many make the argument that there is a large percentage of children that don’t get the appropriate tutelage at home and do not see a physician regularly. Does this mean the state is now responsible for stepping in and replacing the parent? No. The vast majority of children do have those support systems, and a one-size-fits-all approach never actually fits all.
The editorial goes on to state we have a need for an adult that will teach our youth what they must know. I respond with: Who is this adult and how do you define must? Who is it who gets to decide what kids must know?
The editorial postulates the real “losers” are K-12 students who are supposedly being denied “age-appropriate” guidelines regarding health. They argue that this protects against sexual abuse and bullying. I cannot wrap my head around that, especially considering a large survey of adolescents, conducted in 2015 by the Barna Group, regarding the teens' sexual education found that, after being taught such “guidelines,” many felt more pressured into early sexual activity, and that such curricula normalizes the behavior and makes it an expectation.
The editorial further devolves into straw-man tactics by saying “opponents” are unwilling to compromise. I ask: What would this compromise look like? Most “regular” people believe these topics are best left to the primary educators of children, i.e., the parents.
For decades, such arguments never existed, and parents were never put in such a position. The schools stuck with the “Three R’s,” focusing on teaching children the standard topics for which schools were created. Slowly, we have seen the usurping of this as we alter history lessons to better fit current social policy, progressive sexual education that goes far beyond biology, and “education” on race that ultimately pits students against one another based upon the color of their skin. As a United States Marine who fought alongside fellow Americans from every background, I find this to be quite upsetting and unfortunate.
The editorial speaks of working together to solve disagreements, but this “disagreement” was interjected into a system that was operating perfectly well at the local level.
We do not attempt to teach young children about other concepts that are far beyond their ability to grasp, yet there is now a strong push to expose children to sexual education related topics that have no place in the K-12 setting. We do not attempt to teach them about the complexities of astrophysics at this age, because we rationally understand it would only serve to confuse them and ultimately be more detrimental than fruitful.
Finally, I wish to address the topic of “misinformation,” as mentioned in the editorial. The context in which they use this word is clearly meant to undermine any statements that do not fall in line with current progressive ideology. For the record, I view it to be great misinformation to teach children to deny the biological reality of being male or female.
Let us leave schools to teach our children the things they need to know to be successful in life. Let us leave politics and social agendas out of the classroom and allow kids to be kids. We should not place such a weight upon little shoulders that currently are being forced to carry far too heavy a burden.
Dr. Arthur Grinstead is a board-certified physician. He lives in Lincoln.