“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
I Peter 3:14-15
Before we finish the last two weeks of our Proverbs 31 study, I wanted to take a week to address what may be a time-sensitive matter for you or someone you know. As a family, we have chosen the public school route for reasons of neighbourhood engagement, economics, athletic & leadership opportunity and maternal sanity. But that decision necessitates a high degree of attentiveness as we discussed last week – and even more so in the wake of Ontario’s revised sex education curriculum that’s well under way this month.
Each public school family needs to prayerfully and wisely consider what course of action they should take with regards to their child’s participation in that instruction. As intentional “first educators” on the matter of sexuality, we have determined to remove our girls if their grade level’s curriculum deviates from biological matters and promotes a moral belief system that is contrary to God’s design as revealed in the Bible. For this year, that means one of our girls will participate and two of our girls will not.
In communicating that plan to our school, our desire was to uphold our convictions while honouring Christ by doing so with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15) Just because God’s moral standards may naturally be offensive to those who choose to live outside of them doesn’t mean that we should ever be offensive when communicating our conviction to live within them.
As a result, I am including for this week’s post, a copy of our letter to our school in hopes that it may help you, or someone you know, formulate a response should you be following the same course of action.
Allow us to begin by expressing our gratitude for the care and instruction our daughter has received at [Our] School. It is a delight to see her growing academically, athletically and socially, and we thank you for your part in that. As well, we are thankful that the school recognizes parents as playing “the most significant role in the formation of [our] child’s values and behaviours related to human growth and development.” That is a role we have embraced with great care and intentionality due to the significant impact sexual decisions have on any child’s future well-being.
In doing so, we have reviewed the new curriculum and find much of the non-scientific content, meaning the subject matters that go beyond instruction on biological development and human reproduction, to be in opposition with our family’s value system.
It is our position that certain components of the revised curriculum miss the mark on being age-appropriate, demand uniformity of moral convictions, contain intimate material that is not well-suited to a public discussion, is poised to create greater confusion for developing youth, lack long-term research on the societal impacts of teaching this material to a wide-scale youth population and promote activities that will not create a healthier individual or society.
We recognize that many teachers feel a sense of responsibility to communicate matters of human growth and development to their students because children are often not receiving that instruction at home. Due to the intimate nature of the subject, we wouldn’t doubt that to be a fair assessment! However, we have taught our daughter at length on the subject, and have also reviewed the school’s curriculum with our daughter in its entirety, yet from our family’s moral perspective. We thereby absolve you of any professional responsibility you may feel to educate our daughter on the matter yourself.
Therefore, please be advised that [Our daughter] will not be in attendance for the class periods during which this specific health unit will be covered. Because [Our daughter’s] academic success is important to her, she is willing to complete an agreed upon alternative assignment if that is deemed necessary. However, if the fact that we have covered the curriculum objectives at home is sufficient for [Our daughter] to receive a participation mark, she will utilize those class periods to work on other school assignments.
Though our value system differs from that of the curriculum writers, you can rest assured that we will continue to teach our children to be inclusive, kind and respectful to anyone who subscribes to a different value system than we do.
Thank you for your consideration of the varying value systems represented in the student population and for making our involvement in the [Our School] community such a positive experience.
Glen & Janet Surette
These may be morally perilous times we live in, but how thrilling to know that every point of opposition provides excellent opportunities to live out the truth – not naked and cold, but warmly wrapped in gentleness and respect.
Let’s not miss them.
Our daughter will begin JK in a public school in September, for the same reasons you have your children in public school. We struggle with the new health curriculum as well, and this post that you wrote, really put into words what my heart feels on the matter as a christian, mother, and a teacher of 10 years in both the public and private education system. I pray we too can approach the coming years in public education with the same grace you have shown. Thank you for sharing your journey in this matter.
Thank you Iris – it is my privilege to help voice what many of us feel. May God grant you grace and wisdom as you begin the journey!!
Wow, Janet. Although I don’t need this letter, I’m so glad you put it out there for others to use. I’m so impressed with how articulate, professional, reasonable, and kind it is.
Thanks Heather – glad I could keep you company in the airport – even if remotely! 🙂