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OPINION

Tell the Truth to Alabama Parents

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

My mother taught me never to lie. My father also taught me to protect the innocent and the vulnerable, especially young children. In the Bible, we read the same thing when Jesus teaches, to put it mildly, that it would be better for a person to go jump in a lake than to cause a child to stumble into sin (Matthew 18:6). As a parent, I am passing these values on to my children. I hold myself to the same standards. That’s why I need to call out the people who are lying about an amendment offered to protect young children in Alabama’s public school classrooms. That amendment is now law, as part of HB 322, a bill signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last month.

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The amendment offered by Senator Shay Shelnutt is so short and simple I can quote it here: “An individual or group of individuals providing classroom instruction to students in kindergarten through the fifth grade at a public K-12 school shall not engage in classroom discussion or provide classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

Let’s break this down so there can be no more confusion — and deception.

By “individual or group of individuals,” the amendment applies to classroom instructors — teachers, of course. But teachers are not the big problem here. The amendment uses the terms “individual or group of individuals” because outside groups are seeking to expose children to conversations and materials that are not age appropriate. We have all heard of the “drag queen story hours” coming into public libraries. One such group even has a chapter in Alabama. Similar groups are seeking to infiltrate public school classrooms.

National organizations, like Trans Student Educational Resources, are pushing a transgender agenda in public school classrooms. Perhaps you have heard of the “The Gender Unicorn,” a purplish Barney-like character being used to teach young children about sexual orientation and gender identity. Another instructional tool used by transgender activists is the “Genderbread Person.”

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These “cute” little pictures are meant to prompt discussion and exploration about sexual orientation and gender identity. Often, these classroom-led discussions are occurring without parental notification and consent.

That leads me to the next part of the HB 322 amendment: a prohibition of “classroom discussion or … instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.” Classroom discussion means classroom-led discussion. Every teacher and parent knows that effective classroom instruction does not consist of droning on in the classroom with no student engagement. Classroom education, generally, has two parts: exposure to basic instruction and discussion about the instruction.

The amendment passed by Alabama lawmakers does not in any way prohibit student discussions outside the classroom or spontaneous student speech. Those who make such claims are lying.

And that leads me to the third part of the amendment: “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” The Shelnutt amendment does not prohibit classroom discussion or instruction related to gender identity/sexual orientation for kids in grades kindergarten through fifth grade (roughly up to age 10). It only requires that the instruction and discussion be age and developmentally appropriate.

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What’s the obvious alternative? Instruction that is NOT age appropriate and developmentally appropriate. The range of instruction that is NOT age and developmentally appropriate for kids is massive — especially in regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. At one end of the scale is an instructor using bananas and socks to show kids how certain things are done. At the other end is hard-core pornography.

How can anyone defend exposing kids to instruction and material that is NOT age appropriate? They can’t, which is why it’s so important for parents to understand what this new law actually does and doesn’t do. What it does is provide commonsense guidelines meant to protect teachers and kids and schools. What it also does is protect parental rights. Thank you, Alabama, for having the moral courage to stand up for the truth — and for our kids.

Walker Wildmon serves as Chief Executive Officer of AFA Action, the 501(c)(4) governmental affairs affiliate of AFA, as well as Vice President of Operations for American Family Association. He has been quoted by CNN, Fox News and other major news outlets. He graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Political Science. He calls Tupelo, Mississippi, home and is raising his family there. Walker and his wife, Lexie, are happily married with four children. 

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