Opinion: Reader appalled by Southern Baptist Association comments

In a recent article from Out and About, a report of a resolution considered by the Southern Baptist Association caught my eye. The resolution was pertaining to homosexuality in public schools. The article stated the following:

“The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville may consider a resolution that encourages their members to "investigate" their children's schools for evidence that they “present homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle."

Examples of promoting homosexuality included: officially sanctioned gay clubs, diversity training, anti-bullying courses, and safe schools programs. If a school is determined to have these policies or programs, parents are encouraged to remove their children from the school.

As an educator, I was appalled by the comments, but also intrigued. Most educators these days (or anyone associated with schools in America ) are completely aware of the No Child Left Behind Act passed by President George W. Bush in January 2002. The President signed the act that set into motion one of the largest reorganizations of our educational system in recent history. Although the act encompasses many aspects of education, one specific aspect is concerned with school safety.

The National School Safety Council released the results of a study conducted in 2001. The council reported that nearly one-third of U.S. students report that they experience bullying, either as a target or perpetrator. It also reports that more than one in three students said they do not feel safe at school. The Department of Educations states, “No child can learn in a climate of fear.”

According to the Department of Education, “All children need a safe environment in which to learn and achieve. Too many schools in America remain unsafe; too many teachers are threatened by violence; and too many children fear for their safety.” Each state’s Department of Education has been designated to carry out the provisions of the President Bush’s NCLB Act (which are mandated). Many states have begun anti-bullying programs to help enforce the provisions. Tennessee has recently become one of these states.

Now, according to the Southern Baptist Association, members should withdraw their children from schools that are enforcing safe school initiatives. President Bush, however, has other plans. If a school fails to qualify as a “Safe School”, or fails to meet academic standards goals, the school is placed on a “target list” (that is they are given standards to follow and must present results within a given amount of time). If progress is not made, parents of children in the targeted schools may move their children to schools that already successfully incorporate the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Anyone looking for more information about the No Child Left Behind Act or the associated Safe Schools provision should check out the Department of Education website.

Written by Knox County school teacher who must remain anonymous for fear of losing her job

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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