Commentary

Our Dangerous Schools

By Rev. Michael P. Orsi | September 20, 2022 | 12:23pm EDT
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Department of Education is considering changes to Title IX, a section of the 1972 Education Amendments that modified several earlier federal laws regulating the operation of schools and colleges.

Title IX prohibits discrimination and unequal treatment of students based on sex.

While the principle of sex equality is generally recognized as a matter of simple justice, over the years certain provisions of Title IX have generated controversy, because of their broad application.

For instance, they have been interpreted as requiring women’s sports to be funded on an equal (or at least equivalent) basis as men’s sports, even though girls’ teams rarely generate as much public interest and revenue as the guys’ do.

The level of controversy has reached new heights with the DOE’s proposed changes, which would expand the protected category of “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

One effect of this expansion would be that a school could not prohibit biological males who claim to “identify” as females from playing on women’s sports teams.

Acting along with other faith leaders, the U.S. Catholic bishops took a stand against the proposed changes, asking parishioners to email the DOE during its public comment period (now completed) to voice their objections. A record-breaking 184,000 comments were received, though how much good they will do is an open question.

My view is that the fix is in. All the resources of the left are being channeled into promoting this moral insanity. And it’s been reported that — because of a “secretarial error” — some 200,000 emails have mysteriously disappeared.

Under these circumstances, I would say that implementation of the changes is pretty much a given.

The consequences will involve considerably more than just the destruction of women’s sports — unfair as this may be to the many girls who have worked hard to develop their skills (and counted on athletic scholarships to underwrite their education).

If a student claims a gender identity that contradicts the observable characteristics of that individual’s being, teachers would be legally obligated to use whatever pronouns the student prefers.

This sounds stupid and comical, but it’s no joke. People have lost their jobs (and worse) over such claims, both in this country and abroad. And neither religion nor the long-established conventions of the English language can protect them.

A teacher in Ireland currently sits in jail for defending his faith’s teaching on human sexual reality.

Beyond pronouns, if a student is so sure of being the “wrong” sex as to insist on “gender reassignment,” the school would have to provide hormone therapy and even surgery.

Additionally, schools would be obligated to promote abortion to their female students, and make it readily available. This would be done in the name of sex equality, relieving the unfair concern about pregnancy which males do not face.

Naturally, such mutilation and life-changing (life-destroying) services would be provided without having to obtain the consent of parents.

All of this contradicts what we believe as Catholics. It’s anti-Biblical, and it’s depraved. It flies in the face of Judeo-Christian moral principles maintained for thousands of years, principles that are the foundation of our culture. It defies common sense, as understood by 99 percent of humanity.

It’s an overreach by government, an invasion of our private lives, an effort to manipulate us. It’s an attempt to make us into something different from how God created us.

I believe it’s also unconstitutional. This is not a piece of legislation being enacted by our elected representatives. Rather, it is arbitrary rulemaking by unelected bureaucrats who are committed to an ideological vision that is inhuman and evil at the core.

Perhaps the worst part is that it focuses on the young, coopting schools and colleges, the very organizations created to nurture our children and prepare them for whole and happy lives. But then, this is only the latest chapter in the ongoing debasement of our educational system.

I am gravely concerned about public — or more accurately, government — schools. With some notable exceptions, public-school teaching has been in decline for decades. Academic rigor, intellectual development, and life preparation have all been subordinated to politics.

The same can be said of our state colleges and universities, as well as many private institutions subsidized heavily by government. They have become places of “grooming,” erasing values instilled by families, sowing confusion, and brainwashing students into believing things that simply aren’t true.

More often than not, scholarly achievement is trumped by the effort to bring about “change,” indoctrinating students with a set of progressivist ideas currently known as “wokeness.”

It must be said that not all teachers and college professors are enthusiastic proponents of this movement. But they work within institutional structures that have been given over to ideology, where “word comes down from on high,” and pressure to conform (or at least to keep their opinions to themselves) is enormous.

There is a solution to this situation, but it requires the kind of top-to-bottom reform that would be huge and difficult and unlikely to happen. Part of it would involve complete school choice, where parents receive vouchers or tax credits to fund alternative learning options.

Another would be eliminating the many levels of administrators, those “education specialists” who promote ill-conceived and ideologically driven curricular programs. Add to that limiting the activities of teachers’ unions to protecting the legitimate rights and working conditions of their members, and eradicating union influence on instruction methods and course content.

Also, schools should obtain textbooks and curriculum materials from publishers that don’t function as conduits for ideological and anti-human propaganda. They exist, but many are struggling against leftist domination of educational publishing.

Over the long term, we need to dismantle the national education bureaucracy, get the federal government out of the business of setting education policy, and return control of schools to states and communities.

On the college level, we should leave tuition assistance to the institutions themselves, many of which have endowments that compare favorably with the GDPs of some nations.

Finally, all of us — especially parents — must make the effort to look more closely at what’s going on in education today (unfortunately, many people haven’t a clue). And we must take greater care about whom we place on school boards and on the governing bodies of public institutions of higher education.

Failing such reforms, I advocate homeschooling or sending kids to the handful of independent schools, colleges and universities that don’t depend heavily on government funding (preferably those with religious affiliations).

The changes to Title IX which I anticipate are all the proof we need of how dangerous today’s schools are to our young people. We need fundamental, morally appropriate change. The future of our families — of our nation — depends on it.

A priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Rev. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Florida. He is host of “Action for Life TV,” a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications and online journals. His TV show episodes can be viewed online here

MRC Store