Over the weekend, a Philadelphia-based teacher bemoaned the virtual classroom — but not for the reasons you might think. Among the myriad hurdles such a setting creates, one educator expressed his chief concern: parents listening in on his “honest conversations” about sexuality and gender with students.
Matthew R. Kay, a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy, reportedly wrote, “So, this fall, virtual class discussions will have many potential spectators — parents, siblings, etc. — in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work?”
“How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability?” he continued. “How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stay here’ to help this?”
Kay went on to explain he is mainly concerned with “the damage ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in honest conversations about gender/sexuality.”
“And while ‘conservative’ parents are my chief concern,” he wrote, “I know that the damage can come from the left, too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia, how much do we want their classmates’ parents piling on?”
It’s easy to see there’s a thread of validity to Kay’s concerns. Like the adage goes, you can have too many cooks in the kitchen. If there are too many voices, the goal can easily get lost among all the noise.
In this instance, though, the Philly teacher seems particularly worried about pesky conservative or Christian parents learning about his work to “destabilize” perspectives that don’t wholly embrace homosexuality or transgenderism.
Perhaps the coming semester, when many students will be learning from home rather than in the classroom, parents might get a window into the lessons their children are learning.
Kay’s comments come as public education systems around the country are seeking to install increasingly progressive sex education programs into school curriculums. In Washington state, for example, Democratic lawmakers sought to pass a bill that would allow pro-LGBT sex education beginning in kindergarten.