America’s outraged parents and the indoctrination of children

by Liam Gibson

On 16 February, in what amounts to a political earthquake in the solidly Democrat state of California, over 70 per cent of voters in the San Francisco United School District backed the dismissal of three members of the city’s school board. The board provoked the anger of parents when it decided to prioritise a name change for 44 schools that currently honour historic figures, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, now denounced as racist. Parents complained that the board wasn’t doing enough to address the educational needs of children. The three officials, who were the only members eligible for a recall election, bore the brunt of the backlash. It is widely acknowledged that there is a growing number of parents dissatisfied with the politically correct ideology that has taken control of America’s public schools. But that such an overwhelming rejection of a school board’s liberal agenda should take place in one of the most liberal cities in the United States serves to highlight the level of concern over the issue of education. 

At present, around 137 Bills are making their way through state legislatures that will place limits on what teachers can tell students about contentious issues such as critical race theory. Some of the Bills would prohibit teachers from raising topics of a sexual nature or promote transgender ideology. Critics claim that these Bills will put teachers in the impossible position of having to negotiate with “outraged parents” and will force many of them to leave the profession. They warn that if American teachers are legally forbidden to talk to children about gender identity, sexual orientation and critical race theory then the country will be following in the footsteps of authoritarian regimes such as Russia and Hungary.

The wave of legislation to re-establish the rights of parents over the education of their children had been building for years when the restrictions resulting from the Covid pandemic literally brought home the kind of indoctrination going on in schools. It may have been critical race theory that caused the dam to burst but now the legal recognition of parental rights could potentially sweep away all the gains made by the sex education lobby after decades of work in the US. And if parents in the US can prevent this agenda from being taught in their schools, then parents in developing countries could get the same idea.

If that were to happen, it might even derail the plans of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the UN agency tasked with promoting birth control and anti-life, anti-family sex education. In January 2018, UNESCO dismissed the objections of UN member states and published its technical guidance on “Comprehensive Sexuality Education”. This guidance — prepared with the cooperation of organisations like abortion giant Planned Parenthood and the international LGBTQ advocacy group OutRight International — aims to promote a global standard for governments, educators, and sexual and reproductive health advocates.

The guidelines recommend assisting children as young as five to identify “trusted adults” other than their parents to “help them understand themselves, their feelings and their bodies”. It proposes teaching children from the age of five that gender is a social construct and, from the age of nine to “appreciate their own gender identity and demonstrate respect for the gender identity of others”. These objectives also include telling children about various types of “non-traditional families” and places a heavy emphasis on LGBTQ “rights”. UNESCO has made it very clear that it believes graphic sexuality education should be a mandatory part of the curriculum in all schools.

Contained in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is target 3.7, aimed at ensuring universal access, to sexual and reproductive healthcare services by 2030. This includes family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes as well as the introduction of laws and regulations that guarantee women, and even girls of 15, access to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education. 

Despite this, the Holy See welcomed the adoption of the SDGs in 2015. And in 2019 Pope Francis told reporters in an in-flight press conference:

“When we acknowledge international organisations and we recognise their capacity to give judgment, on a global scale – for example, the international tribunal in The Hague, or the United Nations. If we consider ourselves humanity, when they make statements, our duty is to obey. It is true that not all things that appear just for the whole of humanity will also be so for our pockets, but we must obey international institutions. That is why the United Nations were created.”

The architect of the SDGs is Jeffrey Sachs — the self-described “world-renowned economics professor, bestselling author, innovative educator, and global leader in sustainable development”. On 25 October 2021, Pope Francis announced that Sachs would join the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) as an ordinary member. Sachs, an advocate of population control, is an outspoken admirer of Pope Francis’ focus on environmentalism. 

The previous year, on 7 February 2020, at an event in the Vatican to promote the Pope’s Global Education Pact, Sachs presented a plan which would raise the projected $26 million needed to fund the initiative. He suggested that the Holy See should partner with the European Union, UNESCO, UNICEF and wealthy individuals such as Bill and Melinda Gates. It’s not clear whether the Vatican has acted on his proposals but it would be naive to assume that the potential partners Sachs suggested would be interested in promoting the values of Catholic education. It is much more plausible that philanthropists like Bill Gates or UN agencies would seek to promote their own agenda to the 60 million pupils in the Church’s 216,000 schools.

Education divorced from the Christian ethos has always been a preferred means of spreading extremist ideologies. Throughout history, the church has warned parents to resist attempts to deprive them of their rights. The warning issued by Pius XI in Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Concern) is, therefore, still relevant today:

39 “…Their rights and duties as educators, conferred on them by God, are at present the stake of a campaign pregnant with consequences. The Church cannot wait to deplore the devastation of its altars, the destruction of its temples, if an education, hostile to Christ, is to profane the temple of the child’s soul consecrated by baptism, and extinguish the eternal light of the faith in Christ for the sake of counterfeit light alien to the Cross. Then the violation of temples is nigh, and it will be every one’s duty to sever his responsibility from the opposite camp, and free his conscience from guilty cooperation with such corruption. The more the enemies attempt to disguise their designs, the more a distrustful vigilance will be needed, in the light of bitter experience. …Therefore, we shall never cease frankly to represent to the responsible authorities the iniquity of the pressure brought to bear on you and the duty of respecting the freedom of education. Yet do not forget this: none can free you from the responsibility God has placed on you over your children. None of your oppressors, who pretend to relieve you of your duties can answer for you to the eternal Judge, when he will ask: ‘Where are those I confided to you?’ May every one of you be able to answer: ‘Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one’ (John xviii. 9).”

The indoctrination of children in Nazi Germany is well documented. Perhaps less well known is the experience of the Soviet Union. In 1920, Aleksandra Kollontai, the first Soviet People’s Commissar for Social Welfare wrote: “Communist society will take upon itself all the duties involved in the education of a child.” This same view was expressed in Britain 60 years later by the eugenicist Helen Brook who pioneered the provision of birth control to children (as young as 10 years of age) behind the backs of their parents. In a letter to The Times, 16 February 1980 she stated: “From birth, till death it is now the privilege of the parental state to take major decisions —objective, unemotional, the State weighs up what is best for the child.” 

When the European Convention on Human Rights was being drafted in 1956, the UK delegate questioned whether the clause guaranteeing parents the right “to ensure that their religious and philosophical beliefs are respected during their children’s education” (now Article 2 of Protocol 1) was necessary in a treaty intended to safeguard democratic structures in Europe. The members of the Consultative Assembly from countries that had seen first hand how totalitarian regimes had successfully undermined democracy through the indoctrination of children, assured him that a repeat of this bitter experience should be “absolutely prohibited”.

In 2016, the United Kingdom Supreme Court was asked to rule on the legality of the Named Person Scheme in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. To the relief of parents, the judges found that the scheme (which is reminiscent of the UN’s guidance on the need for children to identify “trusted adults” other than their parents) breached Article 8 of the Convention and the right to family life. It concluded: 

“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.”

Far from turning America into an authoritarian regime, the re-emergence of the rights of parents to have a say over what is taught in schools may present a serious threat to plans of those global agencies that seek to reshape the world through corrupting the innocence of children and the destruction of the family.