Baby’s 1st First Amendment Lesson
Posted on March 30th, 2016
pH takes a few classes through Portland Parks–part of a governmental body–including a weekly art class that runs for 4-5 weeks at a go. (Hello, everyone who ever clutched her pearls about “socialization.”) She’s taken this class…er…five, six times? Enough to generate so much art I don’t know what to do with it.
Today, when I picked her up, the teacher had me wait to talk to me about “something sensitive.” I waited, thinking JHC, what has my kid said now? Gone on for ages about the Warriors books? (Hearing the ins and outs of whose litter died or didn’t and who likes whom or how they got their names in the Warriors universe is driving me mad.)
Apparently JHC is part of the problem.*
Apparently there is one kid in the class whose parents don’t want dinosaurs discussed around him, because it goes against their religious beliefs. (In fact, there are two siblings, but pH decreed the sister is “extremely sweet.”)
Apparently, when pH and another kid were discussing dinosaurs and how they evolved into birds, this child…objected. pH pointed out to him that archaeopteryx is a bird, so they could discuss it without violating his proviso. [Caveat: although I rarely dispute anything dinosaur-related with pH, because I am usually wrong, I think it’s now considered transitional from dinosaurs to birds, but whatever. That’s dicta.]
Apparently pH was told not to discuss any of dinosaurs, transitional or otherwise, in the class.
Apparently pH did not like being told this. The teacher wanted me to know that if pH’s feelings were hurt, that was why, that it was inadvertent and the teacher would be discussing this with a supervisor because it was a first time for the teacher.
Not just apparently, but quite literally, I said, “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
Not just apparently, but quite literally, a few minutes later, I said to pH to talk about dinosaurs if she wanted and that objections can be referred to me later.
Not just apparently, but quite literally, we have this thing called the First Amendment. It applies to state actions. It’s a publicly funded community center. Believe whatever you want, but check your religious injunctions at the door.
Not just apparently, but quite literally, pH and I are going to polish off some Easter candy now [that I bought while she was in class–along with her dinosaur oatmeal].
*This offspring of mine [who comes from a long line of Calvinist clergy, who is a Mayflower descendant, who hears her parents debate the Council of Nicaea for fun] in the car this morning said, “Christians are idiots.” I said, “You may not agree with their beliefs. I don’t agree with their beliefs. I don’t like talking about anyone’s religious beliefs (or not), because it’s like talking about someone’s underwear; I feel it should be a private matter. But idiocy is another thing entirely, and there are quite a few very intelligent Christians. Don’t paint everyone with such a large brush.” Pre-art class. Oh, I love me some irony.
I almost explained the time when I was her age and I stopped doing the Pledge of Allegiance because my friend in elementary school was ostracized for not doing it for religious reasons…but I didn’t want to have to explain the Pledge of Allegiance.