Almost 20 years ago, when our daughter Kaylee was in the first grade in a Florida public school, all of the classes in her school had a weekly class (mandated by the county) with the guidance counselor to discuss character traits. Every month focused on a different aspect of character. One month, the aspect was “respect.”
Kaylee came home from school after one of these weekly classes and admitted she was confused because she couldn’t understand what she’d learned about respect. At dinner, we engaged her about it and she told us about the book the guidance counselor had read to them. Kaylee had a nearly didactic memory and read it back to us. (The book was Max the Stubborn Little Wolf.)
To paraphrase: Max didn’t want to be a hunter like his father. Hunting is nasty, cruel, and horrible. He wanted to be a florist. His father was very frustrated with him about it and took him to work with him so he could see how much fun hunting was. Max scared all the deer away so his father couldn’t hunt them. His father killed a deer and covered it with flowers to make it more appealing to Max. The scent of the flowers was wonderful to Max and he exclaimed to his father that he didn’t want to be a florist anymore…his father was so happy…he wanted to make perfume. His father ate his hat.
I’d like to remind you at this point that this was the first grade – 6 and 7 year olds. And Max is a “little boy” in the book- not an adolescent or adult.
Kaylee’s issue stemmed from the fact that Max showed his father no respect, and in fact, infringed on his job which could make his family go hungry.
Gregg made an appointment with the guidance counselor to discuss it.
At first, she said that she didn’t recognize the book he was talking about, that Kaylee must be mistaken. A back and forth ensued and she insisted that book was never read by her. Gregg asked to see the curriculum. When she finally relented (and it wasn’t immediate), in the stack of curriculum about respect, there was the book. Then she (begrudgingly) admitted to reading that book to the class.
Gregg asked her what the book had to do with respect when Max clearly had no respect for his father or his father’s profession – going so far as to call his father’s profession “nasty, cruel, and horrible.”
No respect was earned, discovered, given. No one learned anything. Neither character ended up respecting the other in any way. This was not a book about respect.
The guidance counselor ignored that entirely and instead said, and I’m giving you the exact quote, “I’m not willing to discuss the pseudo-homosexual undercurrents of this book.”
To which Gregg said, “I’m actually not here about that. I’m here about Max’s blatant disrespect of his father. But now that YOU brought it up, the fact is they’re 6 and 7 year olds. They’ve had language skills for exactly 3 years. How do homosexual undertones come into play in a course about respect for first graders?”
The guidance counselor shut the meeting down. Gregg kept the book.
Gregg and I used it as teaching moment for Kaylee – how it was actually a book showing a mutual lack of respect and then launched a series of discussions about honoring our mother and father and what that looks like inside a home that seeks to honor God and follow His Word.
The point of my story is that there’s no surprise to me that there might possibly be enough of an issue inside of Florida public schools that there actually had to be legislation introduced to prevent curriculum from teaching anything about sexual orientation, etc., for 9 year olds and under. It’s not a new idea. It’s been happening for a long time. But while there was once just pseudo undertones, I imagine some of the lesson plans were rather the opposite.
And let’s not forget, we’re talking 3rd grade and under – children who have had language skills for 6 years or less. I understand the agenda – the subtle agenda that’s been in play for decades and the psychology behind young minds, etc. What I don’t understand is the spin and how so many – SO MANY – Americans have fallen for the spin over this law. I don’t care what side of any kind of political aisle I fall on – I don’t want a public servant teaching my second grader about sexual issues – even when those issues are taught with pseudo undertones.