Opinion | Pretty soon, we’ll just not let children read – The Washington Post

opinion-|-pretty-soon,-we’ll-just-not-let-children-read-–-the-washington-post

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Placeholder while article actions loadRegarding the April 13 Metro article “Va. law targets explicit content”: I’m grateful to be a high school senior. Youth education has become highly politicized and is used as a pawn for politicians to win votes. And behind the deliberately vague wording lies a clear motive to restrict dialogue about sexuality and gender identity among students, some of whom might be looking for representation of their own.What frustrates me most is the law’s illogical examples of banned materials, “descriptions, images or videos of sexual bestiality, lewd nudity, sexual excitement, sexual conduct, sadomasochistic abuse, coprophilia, urophilia or fetishism.” I might have missed a couple of days here and there, but I’m certain my classes weren’t covering books with urophilia any time in my 12 years of public education. The grouping of sexual excitement and sexual conduct with concepts such as sadomasochistic abuse is chilling.It’s saddening that young children won’t have many trusted adults around them able to speak about such common phenomena. Additionally, this law will more than likely be subverted to target material with LGBTQ+ characters and themes. In the polarized world we live in, it’s more important than ever to set an example of open-mindedness for children.Jessica Feng, McLeanSo “Florida rejects math books with ‘references’ to critical race theory” [news, April 18], but the state won’t say which books or give examples.I have some apt conjectures here.Perhaps to fit with Florida’s arguments against teaching an academic theory that puts a spotlight on historical practices such as “separate but equal,” there can no longer be use of “division” in math textbooks in the Sunshine State. That will certainly make the lives of Florida’s fourth-graders easier. The anti-CRT bowdlerizers will also excise discussion of “equality,” banning as odious the equal sign.In the spirit of the new “don’t say gay” legislation, the state will also prohibit any demonstrations of “multiplication,” because of the obvious sexual implications. Add to the cut list because of its intercourse metaphor intersecting Venn diagrams. Similarly, delete from all math books in the state that famous two-digit number that stands for a sexual position.And it goes without saying that algebra itself will be banned because it was invented by a non-Christian person of color. Who knows what messages are hidden there.Finally, higher math will also have forbidden practices once policymakers in Tallahassee turn their sights to state universities. For instance, no longer will calculus students do “integration,” because of the racial overtones.Stephen R. Dujack, CharlottesvilleI immensely enjoyed Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson’s letter to Florida teachers: “Avoiding our gay penguins book? Better steer clear of these kids’ classics, too!” [Sunday Opinion, April 17]. I know the cited books well, having read all but one with relish to my now 41- and 35-year-old daughters. Doubtless I would have included “Good Night, Gorilla” in our nightly lineup had it been around when they were very little. My kids begged to hear these stories multiple times and even renamed our very lazy Shih Tzu puppy Ferdinand in honor of the bull who prefers flower sniffing to bull fighting.Strangely, no questions ever popped up concerning sexual orientation or gender identity. Perhaps my children were not as forward-thinking as kids today appear to be. Still, my radically different experience raises the question: By our obsessions and fastidiousness, are we engendering in our kids the very questions we are hellbent to prevent?Rosemary Donaldson, Falls ChurchAfter reading the column about the “gay penguins” book, I am worried that the next logical step will be to ban or censor the children’s own writing.In my long career of early childhood teaching, the most important, exciting and relevant book was the self-written story “All About Me,” a journey of self-exploration. Children draw themselves, their families, pets and surroundings. They “write” about their joys and sorrows and create a snapshot of their life as a kindergartener, which they share with their teachers, friends and family.In sharing their books and, thus, their lives with others, children discover who they are. They often find that they are more alike than different. They learn compassion, empathy and how to laugh at themselves and with others.There is joy and pride in their story and in the stories of others.I fear a scenario in which a child is told his or her story is “wrong” and not to be shared. If a child has one parent, two mothers or two fathers, all is accepted. Of course it is! Children are writing about their own precious lives. I cringe to think that an adult could make children feel shame at their own stories. I dread that any teacher would feel uneasy about sharing that child’s story with the class. I dread that 3- and 4- and 5-year-olds will be made to feel shame about the truth of who they are and of the family from which they are raised.Susan S. Lewis, Washington
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