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The Observer

Taking the Education of Children Seriously

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on

It's Thursday, March 31 2022. I'm Joshua Claycamp. And this is the observer. A Kamloops Christians reflection upon the news from a biblical perspective.

In order to understand how Christians need to think and feel about current events, Will Smith has apologized to Chris Rock for slapping him. At last Sunday night's Academy Awards after the comedian made a comment about Will Smith's wife. The Academy announced a formal investigation and of course condemned Smith's actions. The story dominated social media eclipsing even the war in Ukraine. However, I don't want to discuss the issue between Will Smith and Chris Rock today on the observer. There's another story from the Oscars that has received far less coverage and which I believe is far more important. The hosts and the various presenters at the Oscars last Sunday did not miss an opportunity to castigate Florida's parental rights bill. Regarding education. The legislation has been dubbed by its adversaries as the don't say gay bill. Wanda Sykes during her time at the Oscars last night presenting slammed the bill in her opening monologue. She and fellow hosts Amy Schumer and Regina Hall repeated the word gay multiple times as the crowd applauded, Florida's governor Ron DeSantis, nonetheless signed the bill into law the very next day on Monday.

I'd like to discuss what the legislation does and doesn't do and identify the larger cultural narrative that this controversy represents. Ironically, the don't say gay Bill never uses the word gay. And it does not actually prohibit its use at all. Rather, the measure bars classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity. For children who are in kindergarten through grade three. This will be from about ages five to nine in Florida public schools. The law takes effect on July 1, and it allows parents to sue school districts they believe to be in violation. Republicans argue that parents should discuss these subjects with their children, that this is a matter of parental concern, and that it does not need to be a matter of public educational concern. Democrats claim that the law demonizes LGBTQ people by excluding them from classroom lessons. Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters when he signed the bill, quote, we will continue to recognize that in the state of Florida parents have a fundamental role in the education, health care and well being of their children. And quote, he went on to add in that same press conference quote, I don't care what the big corporations say, Here I stand I'm not backing down and quote.

Big corporations have indeed said much about the law. For example, a Walt Disney Company spokesperson recently claimed that the bill quote, should never have been passed, and should never have been signed into law. And the spokesperson went on to say, quote, our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts and quote, and there you have it, the Walt Disney Corporation, what was primarily previously a children oriented entertainment institution, has now officially identified itself as a public political activist Corporation.

But my concern today is to think critically about why it is that LGBTQ activists are focusing on children. My purpose isn't to provide a comprehensive discussion of the quote unquote, don't say gay legislation, but rather, as an observer, a Christian observer, I want to focus on the worldview issues that it presents, since they are relevant to each of us whether we live in Florida, or whether we live here in British Columbia, whether we have young children or whether we don't have children at all.

Nathaniel Blake is a postdoctoral Doctoral Fellow at the ethics and Public Policy Center and he's the author of a rather interesting article that was published in Public Discourse. He notes that many in our culture now believe the LGBTQ activist narrative that humans are born this way. Blake explains the argument he says, quote, each of us is born with an immutable sexual orientation and gender identity and quote, now this would mean that some children are born LGBTQ. And for listeners of The Observer, I'll break that acronym down for you that essential means L means lesbian. G means gay B means bisexual T means transgender. And que means queer, which is somehow to say, none of the foregoing. 

So, the argument as Blake explains it in his article on public discourse is again quote, each of us is born with an immutable that is to say, an unchangeable sexual orientation and gender identity, which again would imply that some, some kids are born as LGBTQ. Now, the argument as Blake is trying to present it is accurate to what LGBTQ activists are attempting to assert, however, the argument is self defeating. The argument is that we are born with a particular sexual orientation, or a particular gender identity. However, when they seek to make this argument they want to separate gender identity from any biological connection. And so while it could be clearly stated that we are indeed born with a particular gender identity, and subsequent to that we have a particular sexual identity that's to be understood in light of our gender or biological gender, the LGBT activists want to say no, you are born with something different than that, which of course is immutable, it cannot be changed. However, the LGBTQ movement incorporates transgendered individuals into their movement. And transgendered individuals are individuals who have actually sought physical surgery that would change their sexual identity in terms of whether or not they are a man or whether or not they are a woman. So the argument that we have an immutable gender identity is not intended to suggest that we are incapable of altering our biological capacity to match that gender identity. It's a bit of a confusing argument, it is a bit contradictory, I admit. Nevertheless, this is the argument that is presented by LGBTQ individuals, since this is what they believe that everyone is born with an immutable sexual orientation and gender identity, and naturally, some of us are going to be born as LGBTQ. As a result, the LGBTQ movement argues that children should learn about their sexual orientation, and gender identity as soon as possible so they can discover their authentic sexual selves, or at least that's how their argument runs.

In this view, teachers of elementary age children are therefore on the front lines, helping their students to discover and embrace their sexual identities. Parents, and the rest of us should simply be affirming of our children's discoveries. Anyone who rejects LGBTQ ideology is, by definition, suspect and dangerous to children. Now, this ideology can even lead to non affirming parents losing custody of their children. As we've all seen here in British Columbia, there was a case that is recent that was recently battled out in the courts and is still ongoing, whichever is a father, who objected to his daughter's transitioning. And as a result of his objection, he lost custody of his daughter.

Blake in his article reminds us that the this is all built off of an idea that we are somehow born with an immutable sexual identity, something that is just how we are born into this world, and that it cannot be changed. Now of course, listeners to the observer will recall that a massive study was conducted several years ago in which nearly a half million genomes were studied. That is a half a million people had their genomes sequenced. In order to identify whether or not there were any common DNA markers associated with altered sexual behavior. When after a comprehensive study that took more than 10 years and looked at more than 500 million people. This comprehensive study determined that there was no genetic or biological link between a person's DNA and their sexual expression or gender identity. Nevertheless, we understand that LGBTQ activists are pressuring our culture, our school curriculum and even churches to affirm this ostensibly intrinsic, immutable sexual identity and gender orientation.

We see this happening as well here in British Columbia. Two years ago, there was a BC teacher who was suspended for 15 days for sharing a stop so G 123 pamphlet with several of her parents. Global News reports that a BC teacher was suspended for 15 days without pay by her school district after she shared to anti Soji 123 pamphlets with parents in her classroom of students in her classroom, of course, you'll recall so G 123 Is the curriculum in British Columbia. It stands for sexual orientation and gender identity, and it is actively taught from kindergarten to grade 12. Coming back to the article Dory, while Dean Hannibal is an elementary school teacher in the Coquitlam School District, and according to a decision from the BC Commissioner for teacher regulation, Hannibal was approached by a member of her school's Parent Advisory Committee on June 18 2019, to talk about a school matter. After that discussion, Hannibal brought up the PAC meeting that night, and gave the parent two pamphlets to hand out the pamphlets republished by parents United Canada, which is a Langley BC based group that advocates for parents rights, and included the phrasing, stop. So G 123, referring to the BC Ministry of Education Resource on sexual orientation and gender identity again, that provides guidance and support for LGBTQ students, and speaking to the parent.

Annabelle also made what the parent described as quote unquote, inflammatory statements about the Soji 123 curriculum, including that it is harmful to students again on October the 15th, she was suspended for 15 days without pay by the school board. So this is an issue that clearly applies to us all in North America, whether you're in the United States, whether you're specifically living in Florida, or whether you're here in Canada, specifically living in British Columbia.

In response to this rising threat to our children in which LGBTQ activists are seeking to pressure children into exploring and experimenting with their gender identity or their sexual orientation. We need to understand that there are two biblical conclusions which are vital. The first is that it is urgent that you and I understand, embrace, proclaim, and defend a biblical sexual morality in all of its holistic relevance and beauty. God's word clearly teaches that humans are created in his image as male and female, to fully image or to reflect the image of God would require both genders. The genders are created distinct from each other, yet complementary to each other. And it takes both it takes to in order to fully reflect all that is intended to be reflected by the character and the person of God. Additionally, we understand that sex is intended only for a husband and a wife within the covenant of marriage. This is expressly stated numerous times throughout scripture, and affirmed over and over again. And we also need understand that homosexual relationships are outside of God's design for us, they are forbidden as being contrary to the image which we are created in contrary to the purposes which God has for our lives.

But there's a second thing we need to consider as well. Parents are responsible for every dimension of their children's lives. This includes not only their academic and intellectual instruction, but it also includes their spiritual formation. One way that I am praying to God to redeem the frightening rise of LGBTQ activism within our school districts, is that I am asking God, that parents will become more and more engaged in the entirety of their children's educational experience. For far too often, parents have essentially been subcontracting the education of their children to the government. And the mistake that is being made when we do this is that we assume that we can divide the blessing that God has given to parents of the spiritual formation of their children, from the blessing of educating our children in various subjects, such as math or science or English, there is no division of spiritual formation from academic instruction. All education, therefore, is in effect discipleship.

Jesus Himself teaches this concept clearly. He says, a student is not above his teacher. But when a student is fully trained, he is like his teacher. Now, Jesus wasn't saying when a student is fully trained, he's able to master mathematics and English and language arts. That isn't what Christ was saying. That is not the truth of Scripture. When teachers teach, they are always modeling, and they're always operating out of a particular worldview. And as is clear in British Columbia with the implementation of the Soji 123 curriculum and is clear all across Canada, the government educational system, the public educational system does have a worldview. And that worldview is contrary to the worldview that God calls parents to hold to, and to model and to teach to their students. And frankly, I have to step back and ask the question, very, for a very long time now, we have been talking within Christian circles of this presumable red line, a point in time in which parents will withdraw their students from the public education system as a result of the corruption and the morality that is being taught in the classroom. And I just have to ask a question for any parents who are listening to the observer today. What is that red line? And however, you might answer that question as a Christian, I would suggest to you that we crossed that red line a long, long time ago, however, you might define it, whatever parameters you might place upon it, if you are going to define that redline biblically, if you are going to understand the pressures and the influences that are being exerted within public education, there is no escaping the conclusion is inevitable that the government and our public education system cross that red line over a century ago.

And by over a century ago, I'm referring obviously to a story which has been making headlines of late the partnership between the Canadian federal government and the Roman Catholic Church dating all the way back to the late 1800s. To take Native American children away from their parents by force in order to educate them in residential schools. This week, a delegation from all across Canada has made its way to the Vatican City in Italy. In order to pressure the pope for what one article describes as atonement.

We read in global news quote Phil Fontaine and his wife Kathleen Mahoney, walked arm in arm up the cobblestone street from Rome into Vatican City. They pause at the border between them and glance at a dazzling and familiar sight. St. Peter's Basilica, one of the holiest Catholic shrines in the world. Quote, here we are in 2022. And I think this is one special moment, with great expectations and high hopes, says Fontane peering beneath the brim of a brown Fedora quote, I think this particular trip is different from previous excursions and quote, in 2009, Fontane walked up the very same cobblestones road to meet Pope Benedict, in a private audience. He and for indigenous delegates shared their heart wrenching experience of Canada's residential schools, most of which were run by the Catholic Church. Now much has changed in the 13 years between these two trips, and Fontaine believes that the Vatican is now ready to take more substantive action toward reconciliation this time, and at long last, delivering what he hopes to be a heartfelt apology that will open the door to healing for many survivors.

In this same vein, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is today traveling to Williams Lake meeting with BC First Nations at the site of a residential school. He is welcomed by First Nation elders and residential school survivors and Williams Lake on Wednesday. The visit comes about two months after Williams Lake First Nations announced that it had found 93 quote unquote, reflections indicating unmarked graves of children around the former St. Joseph's mission residential school. After Trudeau and crown indigenous relations Minister Mark Miller were greeted with gifts and songs. Both were then treated to a smudging ceremony, which was meant to drive away negativity and to begin the healing process.

Trudeau said in response to the smudging smear ceremony, quote, I am moved to be here and quote, he went on to say I am here to indicate that all of Canada grieves with this community at the feelings of loss that have come since the discovery of these reflections but also the deep loss that this community has felt over generations because of the legacy of the residential schools.

Now, it might be helpful for us to get a little bit of a background on this particular issue. Catholic involvement in the foundation and operation of Indian residential schools as they were known at the time, as part of a long tradition of Catholic engagement in education, health and spiritual ministry both to indigenous as well as to non Indigenous Canadians. The as they were known at the time, Indian residential school system, was consolidated by the federal government in the 19th century, sustained from then on mostly by government funds, overseen by government officials and run primarily by the Roman Catholic Church including diocese and religious communities within the Catholic Church. The Indian residential school system was rooted in the government's obligation what they consider to be their obligation to provide education to indigenous children. In practice, however, the policy was often aimed at assimilating a population often misperceived and misunderstood as nothing more than an obstacle to the nation's progress. In recent decades, the human cost of the quote unquote Indian residential school systems has now come to light, even if they are still being fully understood. Many former students and staff have spoken positively of their experiences at the specific schools that they attended. While many, many others are speaking today a far more painful memories and legacies, such as prohibitions about speaking in their native indigenous Aboriginal languages or embracing certain cultural practices. And there are also cases of emotional physical and indeed allegations of sexual abuse. What has widely been acknowledged is that the purpose of the residential schools was mostly to educate and convert indigenous youth to Roman Catholic belief and to assimilate them into Canadian society.

There were over 150,000 children who attended residential schools, and of that 150,000 There are an estimated 6000 children who died at those residential schools. We don't know this with any complete accuracy because the records are incomplete. They have been destroyed or otherwise obstructed from being viewed. In total, over 130 residential schools operated in Canada between 1831 and 1996. In 1931, there were over 80 residential schools operating in Canada and this was the most at any one time, the very first residential school to open in Canada was the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ontario. It began accepting its first boarding students in 1831. And the last residential school to finally close and Canada was the Gordon residential school in Punica, Saskatchewan, which closed in 1996. It was the last federally funded residential schools in Canada. What I find astounding is that the schools continue to run all the way almost all the way up until the millennium.

What really put this in the eye of the public was the discovery last summer in May of 2021 of 215 remains buried at the site of the to come up stash crap mech First Nation in Kamloops. The First Nation said at the time that the remains were confirmed near the city of Kamloops in the BCS southern interior through the use of ground penetrating radar.

In a statement that was released at the time the to come UPS test equipment said that he had hired a specialist in ground penetrating radar to carry out the work and that its language and culture department oversaw the project to ensure it was done in a culturally appropriate and respectful way. The release didn't specify the company or the individuals involved or how exactly the work was completed. But the statement was issued by Kukui Roseanne Casimir that quote, To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths and quote, quote, some were as young as three years old, we sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deep respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that to come up stash equipment is the final resting place for these children.

Indeed, as Christians, we understand that the deaths of children in residential care is a horrific tragedy that should never have taken place. And the result of this tragedy still has lingering effects, and long standing trauma continues to endure to this day.

I recall reading a while back an article on the gospel coalition Canadian edition website in which Clint Humphrey details and encounter he had with the First Nation lady in which he shared the gospel with her and as she was seeking to pray in order to receive Christ she turned to Clint and she said quote, is it okay for me to pray and Blackfoot? Clint goes on to write quote, it was a question I had never been asked before. And she went on to explain that at the residential school where she was educated. They were not allowed to play to pray in Blackfoot because it was associated with the ritual worship of native spirituality. So she had been striving to pray to this God whom she was still struggling to understand and to know. In fear and guilt in her second language of English, never fully confident that she was sharing her heart accurately with the God that she was seeking to draw near to. She went on again to explain that she had been praying and fear and guilt her whole life in English, never feeling the liberty of speaking to the true and living God as one of the multitude who are to be called to praise God from every tribe, and every tongue and every language and every people and every nation.

What does the heavenly father have to say about these things? You know, it's quite remarkable how often the Bible places the responsibility for training children upon their parents, and not on society as a whole and definitely not on the civil civil government. For example, Moses commanded the people of Israel that they should teach their children and the language of the verse assumes the setting of a household or a family. I'm referring, of course, to the Shema, which we find in Deuteronomy, chapter six, here, O Israel, the LORD our God, the Lord is One, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and these words that command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk, by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Indeed, to bring children up, as it says in Ephesians, Chapter Six in verse four in the discipline, and the instruction of the Lord includes teaching them about God and His ways. Much of the book of Proverbs consists of teachings from mothers and fathers to their children.

For example, we read in Proverbs, quote, here, my son your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching and quote, wise parenting is a joyful task, but it is also remarkably challenging and sometimes very difficult. It requires much wisdom from God. Wise parenting means that parents must understand their children, including their children's unique and often different gifts and interests. Parents must also remember that they are teaching their children by the example of their lives as much as they are by the words of their mouth. The instruction of Paul and Peter to leaders in the early church is also are also applicable to parents today, for example, rereading Titus chapter two and verse seven, show yourself in all respects, to be a model of good works. And in your teaching, show integrity and dignity, dignity.

Peter writes in First Peter, chapter five, serve not as domineering over those in your charge, but by being examples to the flock, when we are presented with the possibility of a government run educational system. Indeed, it can be tempting, it can be very tempting, because of how difficult and how challenging it is to educate children. And we may be tempted to take advantage of what is often marketed and promoted to us as a free educational option. However, the so called free educational option comes with undeniable consequences. We lament and we grieve over the horror and the trauma of what took place over the last 100 years in the Canadian residential school system. And we understand that it is a fundamental violation of the fabric of the family, which God created, which that fabric makes up the broader fabric of society. When we tear apart families, when we forcibly remove children, from their homes from their mother and their father, in order to educate them according to what we think is best. We commit a trauma, we violate a precept of Scripture, God has given children to their parents, we must respect the way God has ordered and structured the family. And this would mean that we could never take someone forcibly from their home, whether they're indigenous or whether they're Christian, to teach them in the erroneous theology of the Roman Catholic Church, or to teach them in the erroneous theology of SOGI 123.

In all forms of education, we appeal to the mind and we appeal to the heart, we do not seek to force an agenda, we do not seek to compel through the use of force or coercion, anyone to become a Christian, Jesus Himself, appeal to our hearts. And when he said to the disciples and Matthew chapter 11, I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and the understanding, and you have revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. He went on to say come to me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly and heart and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Indeed, Jesus appeals to us not by force. He does not seek to shove an agenda upon us. Rather, he speaks to our hearts.

Thanks for listening to the observer. I'm Joshua Claycamp. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com forward slash Joshua Claycamp. The observer is a ministry of First Baptist Church where Christians seek to discern the news differently. For more information on First Baptist Church, just go to first Baptist Kamloops dot o RG or for more information on first Baptist classical Academy. Just go to first Baptist classical dot o RG I'll meet you again tomorrow for more of the observer.

Tags: students, children, education, parents, gender identity, affirming, canada, lgbtq, sexual orientation, kamloops, indigenous, residential schools, residential school