Understanding the proposed legislation requires more than simply reading the bill. We must consider the political and historical context, as well as the expressed agenda of its supporters. One of the bill’s authors sat on a task force commissioned by Governor Dayton to address alleged bullying. A report came out of that task force, and much of its language has been transplanted word-for-word into the subsequent bill.
When considering whether new legislation is required to prevent bullying in schools, one may be inclined to ask: what kind of bullying is currently acceptable? Assault remains a crime. Schools enforce rules against inappropriate conduct. So what else needs to be done?
Page 18 of the task force report lets us know:
Effective strategies will promote values, attitudes, and behaviors that acknowledge the cultural diversity of students; optimize relevance to students from multiple cultures in the school community; understand the nature of human sexuality; strengthen students’ skills necessary to engage in healthy interactions; and build on the varied cultural resources of families and communities.
The articulated purpose of the executive order instituting the Prevention of School Bullying Task Force was to “ensure that all students in Minnesota schools are provided with a safe and welcoming environment wherein each student is accepted and valued in order to maximize each student’s learning potential.” From this we learn all we need to know.
To accept is to choose. To value is to judge. These acts occur inside an individual’s heart and mind. As warm and fuzzy as unconditional acceptance may seem, such a goal ignores objective reality. The mind cannot be compelled to consent, only badgered into acquiescence. What Governor Dayton thus proposes is the police of thought, the subjugation of judgment, and an imposition of official state attitudes. By definition, the promotion of certain values and attitudes occurs at the expense of others.
What does a state-defined “nature of human sexuality” look like? Does it match what you teach at home? Does it match what is taught in your house of worship? Whose job is it to teach children the nature of human sexuality anyway? Certainly, teachers may have a role. But shouldn’t parents determine what that role is?