This is part II in a two part series. Part I can be found here.
There are some important things that can be lost and then recovered. Health. Finances. Friends. Even reputation. Innocence, however, is not one of them, especially the prepubescent, sexual innocence of a child.
My wife, Nancy, and I are blessed to have four amazing grandchildren, aged four to 10. They can be silly. They can be mischievous. They can be sarcastic (having been trained well by their grandfather). At times they can even be disobedient (although hardly ever to their doting grandparents). Yet they are profoundly innocent when it comes to sexuality. Why is it that some people are determined to shatter that innocence?
Every few years, there is a push to “out” the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, claiming that they must be gay (I kid you not). Even now, there is a petition on the Change.org website, stating, “For over 40 years, our beloved Sesame St. characters, Bert and Ernie, have been living as ‘roommates’ and we would like PBS and Sesame St. to allow them to live as a gay couple and maybe eventually, marry. It would show children and their parents that not only is it acceptable but also teach children that homophobia is wrong, bullying is wrong and that Sesame Street should recognize that there are LGBT relationships, families, and include them in their show.”
Putting aside the obligatory references to “homophobia” and “bullying” (does anyone really believe that turning Bert and Ernie into gay characters will combat homophobia and bullying?), it appears that the folks at Change.org have failed to realize that the kids watching Sesame Street are, on average, between two and five years old, and they no more understand the concepts of gay or lesbian or bisexual than they understand the concepts of quantum physics. And Bert and Ernie are Muppets, for heaven’s sake.
Sadly, as absurd as this latest petition drive is, the queering of elementary education (to borrow the title of a well-known book) is no laughing matter. What, then, are some of the implications of the recently passed Senate Bill (SB 48) in California, which mandates “social sciences instruction on the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people,” with no way for parents to pull their kids from the classes?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.