There are three fundamental ways of understanding reality.
The first view teaches that everything physical is a reflection of a deeper spiritual reality. For example, we find a rose or a sunset beautiful because it reflects beauty found in God.
The second view teaches that there is a common reality found in like things. For example, there is some “thing” that roses and sunsets have in common and because of that we call them both beautiful.
The third view holds that there is no spiritual or common reality in things. Instead, the names we give things are random and conventional. For example, there is no beauty in roses or sunsets, rather “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.” If a man finds these things beautiful, that is his opinion, but there is nothing beautiful in or about them.
These three views have been debated for millennia. Indeed, the nature of reality is one of the great questions in philosophy.
This philosophical question bears directly on the Madison Metropolitan School District’s gender and sexuality curriculum. In trying to create an inclusive world where everyone is accepted and affirmed, they have bypassed and overlooked this fundamental debate.
Let me explain. In Kindergarten students are taught to “identify different kinds of family structures.” They are not merely taught that different groups of people live together and call themselves families. Rather, these students are implicitly taught that any group of people that decides to call itself a family is a family. This has deep philosophical implications! Instead of assuming that there is an “idea” of Family grounded in the Trinity that the human family dimly reflects (Eph. 3:15; view one) or instead of assuming that there is a common structure of family that we find across all cultures and ages (view two), five year old children are being implicitly taught that family is a human invention; it is a “social construct” that man has made up (view three). Since we humans made it up, we can change or redefine it as we wish.
My purpose here isn’t to argue for a certain metaphysical or spiritual understanding of reality, but merely to point out that in teaching about the family this way our area government schools are assuming a certain understanding of reality. They are assuming this view without acknowledging or defending it and without engaging with other views. And they are passing on their assumptions of reality to children without letting them or their parents know what they are doing.
It might seem like I am taking one example and blowing it out of proportion, but this philosophy underlies the whole curriculum. In first grade students are taught to “Identify and celebrate our personal identities and the identities of others.” But this begs the question: what is the source of human identity? While this question is never explicitly answered in the curriculum, the instruction given in second grade provides a clue. There students are taught how to “Understand the different components of gender, including gender identity, gender expression, and sex-assigned at birth,” which assumes that there is no integrity in a person, that an individual is rather a collective of malleable “component” parts. Further, the bureaucrats that wrote the gender and sexuality curriculum for Madison schools assume that identity is something society tries to impose on us by, for example, assigning a sex at birth. And since sex and gender have no underlying objective reality this assignation is arbitrary and it therefore follows that the individual should be free to choose his/her/zher/its own gender identity, gender expression, etc.
Many Christians (and Platonists) would say that there are spiritual realities like Masculinity and Femininity found in God and that because we are made in His image these things are built into our natures and we reflect these things (view one). Others say there are certain common masculine and feminine traits that express themselves in men and women (view two). To believe that gender and sex are human inventions assumes a certain view of the world (view three) that is neither explicitly acknowledged nor even implicitly defended. To teach one contestable view as if it is the only view is dogmatism and not education. There are few worse principles in education than instilling a false certainty in students by pretending that alternative views and arguments do not exist, especially when those views have far-reaching implications.