Growing up, whenever Wayne Newton came on TV, my late father would shoo me out of the room. When pressed for a reason, my dad said Newton was a “pretty boy.” I still didn’t understand.
And that was the point.
My dad didn’t want me to understand his gratuitous reference to the singer’s supposed sexual orientation. He didn’t want to discuss such topics with me or have me hear about them. He felt I was too young at the age of 9 years to think about matters that touched on sex.
Now that I’m a parent, I know in my gut he was right. Not so much about Wayne Newton, but about keeping sex out of the larger public conversation for the sake of our children.
Understanding The Issues
It’s been a problem for me as a parent. In our current political climate, gay marriage and abortion are a part of our everyday discussion. Yet in order to understand the issues of gay marriage and abortion, children have to have some understanding of sex.
As a parent, I would prefer that conversation to take place in the context of naturally occurring questions about the facts of life: “Where do babies come from,” and not from the perspective of a current events-induced “Adam and Steve” discussion of sexual identity. Short of hiding my children under a bucket until they turn 18, however, I can’t prevent them from learning about such things.
I believe this type of knowledge can come to children at the wrong time, when they are still puzzling out their identities and attempting to form a clear sense of self. They are already under so much pressure: pressure to be popular, pressure to get good grades, pressure to grow up. Such knowledge just confuses them. It makes them anxious about a process that is somewhat mysterious. It makes them think about all the “what ifs?” of themselves as sexual beings.
Parents Have Little Say
But even if I, as my child’s parent, would prefer to keep him in the dark on matters sexual that have less to do with the birds and the bees than with a highly politicized social agenda, there are others willing to step into this supposed breach and assist him. Between the Internet and the mainstream media, a parent has little say in the matter.
It’s not just the knowledge of alternative lifestyles that disturbs me. Once upon a time, the focus of the debate was tolerance. And that was fine. I can appreciate that not everyone is like me and I hope I have taught my children to be respectful to all. Everyone should be treated with dignity.
The problem is the tenor of the debate which has changed from one of tolerance to one of outright advocacy. The advocacy efforts target not just mature adults but teens, too. In the US, the indoctrination starts in middle school, even earlier. Teens, like my children. And teens being the digital natives they are, have a plethora of websites designed to teach them what I, as a parent, don’t want them to learn.
The websites teach these children sexual exploration as a value.
I spent several days researching this topic: the way politics have infringed on my right to protect my children from knowledge I believe to be age-inappropriate and harmful. I looked and looked, but failed to find kindred spirits. I found agony aunt columns in which parents are encouraged to send in questions. One parent said her daughter had seen “two dads kissing” and wanted to know what it meant. How should she, as a mother, discuss this issue with her daughter?
Numerous parents volunteered opinions. Most of them pumped the narrative of, “Tell your daughter that all love is good.”
Only a few parents broke from the party line to instead preach religious platitudes: “Homosexuality is a sin before God.”
I couldn’t find myself in there. I wanted there to be the mother that would say to her daughter what I would say to MY daughter, “That must have made you feel very uncomfortable. Would you like to talk about this?”
I felt despair at being so woefully underrepresented in the public discourse.
Dr. Grossman’s website opens with the following words:
I’m a doctor, a doctor who’s fed up.
With its defective approach to sexual health, the medical profession is failing all of us.
It arms vulnerable young people with half-truths, and sends them out to play in a minefield.
Now THAT was powerful. That resonated with me. I wrote to Dr. Grossman and the discussion that followed deeply satisfied and pained me, by turns.
I was glad to find someone who felt as I did, that early sexual knowledge is harmful to children. I was pained to find that even according to Dr. Grossman there isn’t much I can do to shelter my children. They are under constant bombardment by a deadly narrative driven by a popular social agenda.
In Dr. Grossman’s book I learned that websites like sexetc.org, gURL.com, GoAskAlice, and positive.org, encourage teens to explore sexual orientation as “a work in progress” and a “lifelong adventure.” Here they are told that confusion about gender identity is normal and healthy.
According to Dr. Grossman, a child psychiatrist, this flies in the face of all that is known about adolescence and human development. As Grossman states, for adolescents,
It’s the resolution of doubt that promotes emotional stability—and the sooner the better.
Furthermore, says Dr. Grossman,
Young bisexual women and gay men have the highest rates of genital infections, due in part to early sexual activity.
Based on this knowledge, Dr. Grossman posits that educators should be preaching abstinence, since early sexual activity is downright dangerous to a teen’s health. Rather than adopting this commonsense approach, to the contrary, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement calling on sexually active LGBTQ teens to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).
Cigarettes come with a warning on the package from the surgeon general. Shouldn’t the medical establishment take similar responsibility regarding early sexual activity and warn teens of the inherent dangers? Shouldn’t a statement be made, loud and clear?
Enabling The Murderer
Sex is killing our children. And our establishment is enabling the murderer. If the medical community remained silent, it would, at the very least, be culpable for damages and deaths. But in the actual promotion of values that run contrary to good emotional, physical, and mental health, the so-called experts, responding to changing societal norms actually aid and abet the peril to teenage life and limb.
The wider community is catching on fast. Facebook users, for instance, can now choose between fifty-six gender options. We have morphed into a society that promotes a cult of death through the sexualization of our children. And no one dares speak out.
That’s because there’s a covert agenda here and decorous behavior for public consumption has no place in it. Decorum isn’t consonant with the atmosphere of a truly liberal society in which the development of the self is central and sexual freedom is pivotal to getting there. If we want to unleash our creative energies we must be unbound by classical notions of restraint and moderation which might dry up the very real humanity buried in there somewhere, in each of us, at the core. We root for our sexual freedoms because we are, we want to be, a free society. And a free society is all about the development of the self.
Sacrificed On Freedom’s Altar
If all are free, then the individual is free to act as he wishes with respect to his own person, his own self. Self (and selfishness) is at the center of all of this and everything is sacrificed on its altar. The notion of sexual freedom is allowed to supplant the notion of sexual health even when it comes to the sexual education of our children.
For the sake of self, we look the other way as we condemn our children to death. We gloss over the dangers of early sexual activity, the real and stunning statistics about the inherent risks because we tell ourselves that liberty slash sexual freedom trumps death. And oh, there’s money in it, too. There’s the Hollywood factor, the voyeurism, the ad money. The sleaze factor of anything goes attracts a crowd and they’ll pull out their wallets to pay for it, too, the Halloween costumes that turn three year-olds into doxies and the parents that tell them they’re cute.
As human beings we have certain inalienable rights. We have free will. We get to decide how we will use our bodies. We can choose to have an abortion. We can choose to set up a home with a gay partner.
As a religious person, I believe it is our God-given right to make these choices. I would defend to the death your right to make your own choices.
Because the opposite of free will is coercion.
An Ugly Imposition
And coercion is an ugly imposition that cheats us on the score of purity of intent.
But some freely made choices, such as gay rights advocacy, are coercion in disguise since they threaten society at large with their unbridled public discussion of what properly belongs in the bedroom.
It is your right to advocate for gay marriage. But gay rights advocacy means taking the struggle public. In your open advocacy for a sexual cause I lose some of my freedoms as a parent. I lose the ability to protect my children from knowledge I feel they are too young to know—sexual knowledge—knowledge that is proven to jeopardize their health.
Aside from the hazard to my children, the insistent nature of this debate is disturbing in its implications. I don’t want or need to know what others are doing in their bedrooms. It is as if some sexual Big Brother is in play here, working toward my reeducation until I share these same Big Brother sexual proclivities and sensibilities. Society wants to protect me from my own idiocy on the subject of sex, on the assumption that I am somehow incapable of critical thinking.
Others have made the determination that all love is good irrespective of gender. Some parents have made the determination that it is okay to give children the straight dope on matters sexual, no matter their age. But the science is there in spite of them.
Science tells us that age is a crucial factor in determining the right time to tell children about the birds and the bees. Must I disregard the science and the wellbeing of my children because a lot of people say so? Does this Big Brother other get to decide for me—to rob me of the free will I freely agree you all should have?
Out Of The Closet
The fight for gay rights is out of the closet. But the battle is fought with parades in the street, with rights becoming advocacy, forcing me to place my children back into the same closet from whence it came. It’s the only way for me to protect them from adult knowledge of carnal relations.
It’s the only way for me to keep them alive.