I have to say that two things are being somewhat conflated in the post Shadi. It is short, so it is understandable. But I do think there is a qualitative difference between the school board or city council route and the individual parents opting-out route. I am sympathetic to the former, but much more hostile to the latter.

In the former case, we are talking about democratic control, wherein opposing voices are heard or represented in one manner or another and then the issue is ultimately resolved by a vote of some kind. This is all well and good and something we should embrace, regardless of which side of the LGBTQ+ representation in school issue we are on.

But the opt-out scenario is something quite different and pernicious. Not only is it not practical, but I think it fundamentally challenges what it means to live in a society, in a political community. The practicality bit is obvious (giving every parent the option to opt their children out of any lesson for any reason would make instruction very tedious). But more importantly, opting-out means that democratic decisions are made, but that any individual that does not like them can simply refuse to abide by them. We do not apply this principle to any other area of public life.

What really bothers me about this is that schools are one of the last truly universal institutions we have in this country. Public schools are, definitionally, centers of socialization. They create social bonds through shared experiences in a way that almost nothing else does today. The promise of public schools is that they universalize educational experience across ethnic lines, class lines, sexuality lines, etc. There has always been a way of opting out of that socialization – homeschooling and private schools. But making public schools a la carte institutions where parents can tailor their specific children's experience to their own personal preferences, regardless of the democratic will (the democratic will being something that I normatively think is capital G Good) is one more way of saying to Americans, "you do not live in a society wherein you have duties and obligations to others, and wherein you have to respect the democratic will of your fellow citizens, you merely live in a sort of amalgamation of individual preferences wherein your needs and wants are all that matter." That is not something I do, nor ever will, support.

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I am baffled by your statement, "To say that the council cannot do what it did would be akin to saying that elected officials do not have the right to reflect their religious beliefs in public policy decisions." But that is PRECISELY what is limited by the first amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion: elected officials do NOT have the right to reflect their religious beliefs in public policy decisions. It sounds as if you think they DO have that right, but that goes against the fundamental groundwork for religious tolerance in this country. Each one may worship - or not worship - in his, her, or their way - but they may not impose any aspect of that worship on the rest of civil society. Please clarify your position or amend your sentence, because as it stands it goes against law and reason.

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Indeed, the decision to only fly government and POW flags is probably more in keeping with liberal thinking than the decision to fly pride flags as well. Even if no government action can be truly neutral, the closer to neutrality a government gets, the closer it gets to treating all its citizens equally.

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So you found one quote from some random Imam in Irvine, a city that has nothing to do with either of the incidents I discussed in my post. That’s really your evidence? Come on.

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It’s simply untrue that unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. You can allow everyone to speak (even Nazis) and then you should throw those same Nazis in jail if they move to illegally take over. There is no paradox.

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Let's think about what the word "tolerate" really means. It means having to endure or suffer something you don't like. It became an important idea in the English speaking world in the context of religious wars that were killing millions. In the context of people or their views, "tolerate" really does mean "put up with" and not much more. I don't think any grown up can say with a straight face that the flag thing is "intolerance". It's just changing what words mean for emotional effect, and in a rather transparent and ugly way.

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This may be useful - Karl Popper's footnote in chapter 7 of The Open Society and Its Enemies:

"Less well known [than other paradoxes] is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.—In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal."

The issues of the school texts or the flying of flags do not, perhaps, rise to the level of intolerance cited above by Popper, but certain other actions being flagrantly invoked right now in this country do, indeed, rise to that level - especially when fists and guns are involved. As a citizen protective of freedom it is my duty to claim, 'in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.'

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Moms for Liberty is holding an event in our town tonight, within the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) system, where my kids go to school. My wife is attending and asked me for some talking points. Here is what I came up with:

1. Prejudice is natural, but it can be unlearned. We want our schools to counteract prejudice, not reinforce it, because LGBTQ people are part of our community.

2. Having LGBTQ characters in a book is not "gender ideology." It's representation. LGBTQ people exist and and have a right to be themselves, publicly, without shame. By endorsing an opt-out, MCPS would be endorsing the viewpoint that LGBTQ people should be ashamed and should go back in the closet.

3. Religious conservatives have a right to their conservative values. They can think and say that homosexuality is sin, that trans people don't exist, etc. They can say it loudly and publicly. But MCPS is not obliged to endorse or celebrate this viewpoint, even as an "option." We want MCPS to endorse and celebrate the viewpoint that LGBTQ people have the right to live openly in our community.

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Aug 7, 2023·edited Aug 7, 2023

This argument is quite confusing (and I suspect, confused).

>"Should duly elected officials be somehow legally compelled to display flags that run counter to their own religious or moral convictions?"

Of course they should! Not on their private property of course, but we're talking about city (PUBLIC) property.

>"To say that the council cannot do what it did would be akin to saying that elected officials do not have the right to reflect their religious beliefs in public policy decisions."

There is no such right, as it flies in the face of public justification. Public officials certainly retain their right to religious freedom as private actors. But, you don't have the right to make policies *as a public official* based on partial religious interests. You yourself appeal to the precisely this reasoning just a few sentences later when you claim it's not okay to fly a "Islam is the Solution" flag.

You seem to be critiquing an expansive conception of "rights" for LGBTQ people while simultaneously appealing to such an expansive notion for Muslim people. Look at this claim:

>"Does not flying Pride flags constitute an infringement on the rights of LGBTQ individuals? To claim that it does would necessitate a rather expansive conception of 'rights.'"

Let's replace the word LGBTQ with "Muslim" and see if the point still holds:

>"Does not flying Pride flags constitute an infringement on the rights of Muslim individuals? To claim that it does would necessitate a rather expansive conception of 'rights.'"

If you reject such an "expansive" version of rights for groups, how can you justify the first position on public schools, in which government speech (public school instructions) is said to violate the rights of Muslim pupils and their parents? Should they be allowed a blanket opt-out on all instruction or only an opt-out for teachings on LGBTQ topics? Is it liberal to provide individuals with opportunities to shield themselves from people, ideas, or policies they don't like?

As it happens, I'm not sure where I stand on either of these controversies. But I'm not sure this schema helps us think clearly about either of them.

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I feel like you’re trying to conflate two issues. One is the flag on government buildings, which I agree is a perfectly reasonable decision. However, the choice to not teach students about Queer history or otherwise allow parents to opt out of learning about it is another entirely. In part because the point of education is, among other things, to learn how to live in the society you’re in. And in America in 2023, queer people currently have rights and are equal citizens. That means their history and lives should be taught and represented equally. You’re not allowed to “opt out” of Black history, and why should you be able to? Additionally, by making it something you opt into you’re essentially allowing the concept of second class citizens. Increasingly, there are queer or gay parents/families. What message does it send to their kids that people are allowed to not learn about them because their life is controversial?? How cruel. Queer and trans people and children are part of our society. They are not some horrifying plague that parents should be allowed to protect their children from. And if they think otherwise, there are many many countries that agree with them! Please, be happy there. But you can’t come here and treat people like second class citizens because you don’t like who they love.

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“Should Parents Be Allowed to Opt Out of LGBTQ-Themed Lessons?” - the answer is always yes. Children aren’t emotional support animals for LGBTQ activists. That’s basically it.

As far as the flag thing, it’s city property and there’s no intolerance to deciding against flying that flag. It’s a decision not to fly a flag, not a declaration of war against LGBTQ people.

I was listening to Helen Joyce yesterday tell Richard Dawkins how linguistic this progressive socio-political stuff is - it’s a manipulation of meaning, irritating semantical wanking.

I agree, as was mentioned above about defining tolerance. This is a linguistic battle not a human one. There’s no threat to LGBTQ people here, relative to Islamic or many third world countries. We really abuse our freedom here with this histrionic stuff. IMO.

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To be tolerant is to allow other's their own views. I don't see much tolerance. I have read over some of the offending propaganda taught in schools, and it should absolutely be pushed back on. There are so many more important things, like reading, writing, and math that schools should focus on.

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Sep 28, 2023·edited Sep 28, 2023

This post obfuscates that the true reason these public officials are doing this: it's because now that the memory of 9/11 fades away, the LGBT community can get the boot. To quote:

"Now, some Islamic leaders express regret about supporting communities they see as being at odds with Islam. Sheikh Mustafa Umar, the senior religious director of the Islamic Center of Irvine, put it bluntly in recent remarks at the Chino Valley Islamic Center on the "LGBT lobby."

"The Muslim leadership post-9/11 got so afraid, everyone got so scared, [saying:] 'Our visas are going to be revoked, we're going to get kicked out of the country, we're going to have to move somewhere else...," he said. "So people are like, 'Let's just team up just with anybody who is willing to talk to us.' Not thinking about the long-term consequences. And when we look at that in retrospect, that was a huge mistake, and now it's coming back to bite us.""

Downright evil statement. A minoritized community helped you live through persecution, and came to your aid when most of the country was against you, and the repayment is.... this.

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I vehemently disagree with this misplaced notion that the only way to avert discrimination against a beleaguered minority is by mandating public celebration of its identity and ideology. What is needed are guarantees of protection enshrined in the constitution for any citizen of the state irrespective of his or her sexual orientation. As a Muslim, I will never demand that the state enforce Islamic values on the majority of people despite their objections. Yes, if the population already subscribe to the ideology and people are willing to accept it as a system of governance. However, to impose a system upon a people unwilling to accede to the very idea they are being asked to pledge fealty to is nothing but tyranny and oppression.

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Participation and acceptance are not the same thing, we can accept people are different but to be actively forced to participate in what goes against our belief system is reverse intolerance. In reality the whole DEI woke agenda is about erasing identity and diversity by forcing everyone to have the exact same thoughts. Same and equal are also very different. Women should NOT have to behave the same as men in order to have equal value, worth and rights.

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I for one, don’t think that it’s an infringement, but it would be a political betrayal if it was white liberals or gays of any color who helped to elect them in the first place. If the flag display had previously been a precedent that was “taken away”, of course that’s going to arouse them. Not to be the slippery slope guy, but this is symptomatic of a different problem that is more sinister. One cannot opt out of society, especially a democratic one. The religious county clerks who refuse to recognize gay marriage, who refuse to give healthcare to trans people are intolerant, and are also affecting society materially. This is a problem not exclusive to the right, as lefty liberal types such as myself also may refuse to uphold laws they take umbrage with.

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