Tuesday, March 30, 2004

What do guns and sex have in common? 

Among other things, those who propose to teach safety in either subject run up against the objection that teaching about the practice in question -- be it the handling of guns or the handling of handguns -- will in some fashion promote an activity that we should want to supress. Eugene Volokh raises the question quite neatly here, asking whether the debate about teaching gun safety doesn't look an awful lot like the fight over sex ed. Volokh quotes a local California paper from a school district that is considering offering gun safety:

But some gun-control advocates question the wisdom of teaching students about firearm safety at a time when many schools have taken a zero-tolerance approach to guns.

"It would become a bit of a challenge if you mix the two. Our view is that guns have no place on a public school campus," said Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center near Los Angeles. . . .

It really does look like the mirror image of the fight over sex education, doesn't it?

This is all very au courant for the TigerHawk family. It seems that some of the parents of seventh-graders at the Princeton Charter School are up in arms because of the short sex education program offered at the school. The school engaged an organization called HiTops to teach the class. From my point of view -- which we base, admittedly, only on the scanty information coughed up by Number One Son -- the program served its intended purpose. What would that be? To put sex education on a formal basis, taught professionally, like anything else. Better that than learning about it in the gutter, or by suffering through my lame attempts to discuss these matters with a 13 year old.

Unfortunately, not everybody is as liberal about these matters as Mr. and Mrs. TigerHawk, even in the cosmopolitan burg of Princeton, New Jersey. Also unfortunately, the HiTops web site contains all sorts of inflammatory statements such as "adolescents are sexual beings," which I take to be at least as self-evident a truth as those enumerated in the Declaration of Independance, but it is also at least as inflammatory. There also may be a procedural atrocity: at least some parents claim that they were not given the opportunity to opt their children out of the program, which opportunity is required by New Jersey law.

In any case, there is a meeting at the school tomorrow night to square all of this up, and I intend to go both for sport and to make sure that we (the parents) do not do, or cause to be done, anything really stupid.



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