Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mad Dad Doomed in His Fantasies

Lackaday for the two Lexington couples suing for:
  • Damages, real and punitive
  • Attorney and expert fees
  • Right to be notified and opt out of any discussions of diversity or religion
  • Right to sit in on such classes
  • Injunction against showing any physical contact by a same-sex couple
The briefs are hot and heavy. This post covers a very simplified recap of:
  • Original suit by four Lexington parents against school officials
  • The defendants' motion to dismiss
  • The amici brief by civil-rights, parents, and teachers groups for the defendants
  • The plaintiffs' rebuttal of the motion to dismiss
You can get links to all four off the MassResistance site. They are in PDF files. While you're there, you can browse that view of the matter. They most decidedly have a view that we do not believe or endorse.

Parker et alia allegation

Motion to dismiss response

Amici response

Parker et alia rebuttal

Interference into 1) moral upbringing, 2) familiar privacy, & 3) practice of religion

The reading materials not only did not interfere, but they met legitimate government interests and mandates for education.

Parents can supplement school teachings and even send their children to other schools. They cannot "“demand control over the ideas to which their children will be exposed."

Opting out of even singular activities and discussions are their right. The "fundamental right (of parents) to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children"” should extend into the classroom. By even mentioning such subjects as the existence of same-sex couples to the very young, the schools violate family privacy. The schools were covertly hostile to the parentsÂ’ religion, thus violating their practice rights.

Violation of Massachusetts Civil Rights Act with "“threats, intimidation, and coercion."”

There were none.

Mandatory school attendance is "coercive by definition."” Failure to honor the opt-out law is also coercion.

Indoctrination of students in violation of the state opt-out sex-ed law.

The opt-out law does not create a private action right. Besides there is no indoctrination.

The books in question are not, as the law requires, "“primarily about '‘sexual education'’ or '‘human sexuality issues'...and fall outside of its scope."

Even the choice of reading material is "intentional and coercive indoctrination."” The fact that the kids are so young nullifies the primarily-about-sex part of the law. The parents'rights to go beyond the strict wording is implied several ways.

Conspiracy to deprive plaintiffs of civil rights under U.S.C. § 1983.

"“The plaintiffs fail to state a viable conspiracy claim."”

A bunch of the school folk agreed to teach this material. So, as long as the parents have a right to control their kids'’ upbringing, it'’s a conspiracy.

· Notification of any questionable classroom discussion until until the kids are in the seventh grade.

· Chance to remove kids from any diversity lessons or anything that touches on religion.

· Right to observe any such classes.

· Forbidding of any images that show same-sex couples having any physical contact.

· Compensatory and punitive damages and all litigation costs.

As part of their positions, the school officials have qualified immunity.

It's possible if they get a successful judgment to show that the officials knowing violate laws and are thus liable. Plus, the teacher may not have any immunity.

Several disputed concepts lie at the heart of this manufactured conflict. Whether the Parker side believes them are less important than that the various forces promoting them have gotten them before the current court.

Key concepts include:

  • The contention that exposure to ideas and even legal realities can constitute interference in home life.
  • Belief from another view that children are exposed to ideas in school, on the street and through media that the parents may choose to differ with, explain or put in their personal context.
  • The assertion that parents have an absolute right under existing statute and tradition to forbid some curricula.
  • Another angle that school teachers, board and administrators, in adherence to state laws and regulations set the standards and curricula for their classrooms.
  • Far more dubious claims that showing the existence of legally married homosexual couples in a non-sexual context violates religious rights.
  • A modern and liberal view that even in kindergarten teachers may mention such unions that are part of classmatesÂ’ lives and the community.
  • The contention that the schools must respect the private moral and religious beliefs and practices of each parent, to the point of stopping discussions from a list.
  • The practice of accepting comments and suggestions from parents, but encouraging outliers to seek private schools that meet narrow personal criteria.

Some Parker et alia assertions are simply risible. For example, that showing a drawing of a same-sex couple, one working in the kitchen while the other and a child do homework, is sexual. The assertion that just showing this legal and practical reality is a way of saying that clearly these homosexuals have sexual relations is indefensible. That picture book is about families, not sex on any level. Likewise, the cartoony implied kiss (mouths covered with a hears) at the end of the other story book of two princes falling in love is something that an anti-gay, anti-same-sex set of parents would have to interpret for their children if they chose. However, this is not sex, indoctrination or recruitment to homosexuality. It is about people liking different people, about the mandated diversity curriculum. It would be feeble parents indeed who could not deal with such anomalies.

Honestly, this is pretty wild stuff. The assertions are like so many spitballs coming out of here, there and everywhere. It is unlikely that this court will seriously consider the arguments, even if the judge is masochistic enough to sit through them.

We may deal in some detail in future posts on some of these Parker et alia postulates. This is not the only place they appear and they are becoming conservative memes. Yet, saying something by shouting it repeatedly does not make you right. It makes you loud and repetitive.

Our model of education is not perfect, not even in such a wealthy community as Lexington. Yet, among its guiding principals is that all children will be offered a curriculum that will prepare them to think, learn, and be ready for the world as we know it.

We suppose that every parent comes across ideas and other teachings that they would rather their kids never hear. We recall with our first born how awful, but necessary, it was that he learn of child kidnappers and abusers. That was not part of our upbringing. Yet it had become a shared reality. We discussed and supplemented these teachings, and in fact, came to terms with them ourselves in the process.

Yet again, it was not our mindset to try to control the private pre-school and public kindergarten and other schools. The Parkers and Wirthlins seem to a very different attitude. They seem to expect to control the schools and perhaps even the larger world.

Alas for them, same-sex couples have been reality for centuries. Same-sex marriage is legal and increasingly common in the state in which they live. Cover their children'’s eyes and ears as they might, truths and reality surround their offspring. Those Dutch boys don't have enough fingers to hold back the world.

Tomorrow, we'll project outcomes and effects.

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Anonymous said...

I was saturated with hetero sex by stories told us in elementary school. for example, there is kissing between princesses and frogs (bestiality! but still hetero as it was a man frog). and how about the little old woman in the shoe? you mean to tell me she got that mess o'sons from divine intervention? SEX! she had SEX many, many times (count the boys). so what the f*ck is wrong with a story, somewhere, at some point in time, implying that sex may happen between two men or two women?

Ryan said...

"Far more dubious claims that showing the existence of legally married homosexual couples in a non-sexual context violates religious rights."

Wow, I must have missed that commandment: though shall not show pictures of men touching men.

What a load of bull. It amazes me at how much harm parents want to put their kids through: instead of showing them that there are different ways that people live as they're young, they apparently want their kids to be shocked, angry and abusive when they're older. It's kind of like the opposite of all those state congressmen who basically said, when the gay marriage amendment was up for debate the first time years ago, that 'I may not agree with gay marriage, but I don't want my name attached to such a document because I'd be embarrassed for my kids.' They were worried about having their names attached to instituting bigotry and therefore fought any prejudices they may have had in coming to the right decision. I give those guys and women some serious respect for putting their prejudices behind them.

This guy bringing up the suit? He gets nothing but derision.

Anonymous said...

They were worried about having their names attached to instituting bigotry and therefore fought any prejudices they may have had in coming to the right decision.

Alas, there were not enough high court justices in Washington and New York states who had the same worry. Nice job, folks--you've just signed on to your generation's Plessy v. Ferguson (the case that enshrined the "separate but equal" doctrine). Your grandchildren will rue the day you did.