George Nethercutt, Former Washington Congressman: Stop Teaching Kids About Gay People

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Yesterday people around the country celebrated the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in many different ways. Some partied. Lots Tweeted. And others awaited the holy wrath of God himself.

George Nethercutt, former U.S. Congressman from Spokane, marked the occasion by calling for less gay history to be taught in schools.

In an essay on Real Clear Politics, Nethercutt makes the case that students don't know enough about American history, and the reason is that they spend too much time learning about things like gay people and the environment.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this summer requiring students to learn about gay history. The law met with universal acclaim from gay rights groups, which applauded Brown's action as "historic." While it might certainly be historic--in that no other state has gone to such lengths to legislate political correctness--the law does nothing to help students learn essential American history; it places an undeserved premium on teaching a nonessential curriculum.

Of course, nowhere in Gov. Brown's gay-history legislation does it require that such lessons come at the expense of learning other "essential American history."

Besides, gay people do make up a large part of American history, and have been greatly ignored until now. I won't bother to post a list, but Google it sometime.

So what's Nethercutt's idea of "essential American history"?

The biggest problem with these courses is that they don't have the same time-tested educational value as, say, learning from where the ideas in the Declaration of Independence came, or what the U.S. Constitution actually says.

Again, nowhere in California's law does it require that teachers suddenly skimp on their Constitution lessons. Nethercutt is using the classic straw-man argument that by teaching one thing, students can't learn another.

He goes to great lengths in rattling off conservative buzzwords like "justice, individual rights, free enterprise, capitalism, representative government, sovereignty and national security," claiming that lessons on the myriad achievements of homosexual Americans will suddenly render people unable to absorb such grandiose concepts.

He has the same views about teaching environmental issues to students, calling it teaching "political correctness" and disparaging it as valueless.

There's no doubt that American students are lacking the kind of world-class education that they used to be guaranteed. And Nethercutt is apt in pointing to several recent studies that show just how much U.S. students don't know.

But the reason for modern American students' ignorance is not because they are learning too much about gay people, it's because they're in schools with underpaid teachers, under-resourced classrooms, and faulty standardized tests; and they are going home to households with parents that are either struggling to make ends meet or don't care what the students are learning at all.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the country's broken education system. But trying to pin it on lessons about gay people is as naive as it is offensive.

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