middle school class

The introduction of mandatory sex education classes for middle school pupils (10- to 12-year-olds) in New York has brought criticism from a leading US academic.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Robert P George, a professor of politics at Princeton University, and one of his doctoral students, Melissa Moschella, argue that not only morality and parental rights are at issue.

They contend that a limited opt-out available to parents applies only to classes covering contraception and birth control, leaving children exposed to classes that, for example, graphically name “a variety of solitary and mutual sex acts” as alternatives to intercourse and ways of avoiding STDs. They say the “effect of such lessons is as much to promote a certain sexual ideology among the young as it is to protect their health.”

Beyond “rival moral visions”, however, is the deeper question of the rights of parents.

Parenting, especially in moral and religious matters, is very important and highly personal: while parents enlist others’ help in this task, the task is theirs. They are ultimately responsible for their children’s intellectual and moral maturity, so within broad limits they must be free to educate their children, especially on the deepest matters, as they judge best. This is why parental rights are so important: they provide a zone of sovereignty, a moral space to fulfill their obligations according to their consciences.

Read the whole piece here — it’s not long — and arm yourself with the arguments.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet