“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Those aren’t just hollow words. Those words birthed a nation unlike any other and inspired its leaders and soldiers to give their very lives in the most sacred of blood oaths to uphold truth.
Those words sustained a country during its deepest sin and gave us the framework to begin anew. Those words are just as true today as they were when the great American experiment began.
Our nation has a rich history of fighting for equal rights for all.
One of the most intense examples of this is the story of racial desegregation in schools—because the pursuit of equal rights for all affected every family and every child. Even kindergartners experienced firsthand the rocky road to equality, and their parents were along for the ride whether they liked it or not.
Ultimately, in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation in public elementary and secondary schools was unconstitutional, violating equal rights. And the Civil Rights Act in 1964 added the full weight of the federal government to the process of desegregating schools—including federal funding and even military intervention in K-12 schools.
But the fight didn’t start with the famous Brown case. There were many cases centered in higher education leading up to Brown, but four in particular from 1938 to 1950 that laid the groundwork.
Along the way to full desegregation, civil rights leaders carefully constructed their legal strategy to prove first that black students needed to be offered the same educational opportunities as white students, even if in separate schools and programs.
Next, they were able to prove that it is very difficult for separate schools to be considered equal if black students do not get to interact and share ideas with white students, especially when the white students would be the majority of the population in their future career fields.
Finally, they proved that even when black students were admitted to the same schools, doctoral programs, and classrooms as white students—yet still subject to segregation—there was in fact no equality.
At the University of Oklahoma in 1950, for instance, black students attended the doctoral education program with white students, but they were forced to sit in designated rows in class or designated tables in the cafeteria.
Declaring that this treatment could never be equal, the Supreme Court stated that “[t]here is a vast difference—a constitutional difference—between restrictions imposed by the state which prohibit the intellectual commingling of students, and the refusal of individuals to commingle where the state presents no such bar. The removal of the state restrictions will not necessarily abate individual and group predilections, prejudices, and choices. But at the very least, the state will not be depriving appellant of the opportunity to secure acceptance by his fellow students on his own merits.”
In other words, the state cannot stop people from separating into their own groups, but neither can it require them to be separate.
This case was a critical turning point for black civil rights, and four years later, Brown turned the tide for K-12 schools—and the country.
Hijacking the Civil Rights Legacy
Flash forward several decades to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Top 5 priority bill, H.R. 5—the so-called Equality Act. Now, the left, with Pelosi at the helm in the House, wants to use the blueprint that helped our nation desegregate schools to manipulate schoolchildren to carry water for the LGBT political agenda—whether their parents like it or not.
Their argument is that just as black children were literally and forcefully segregated from white children, so are LGBT children segregated from all other children in schools—creating an oppressed, unequal class of American children.
There are two obvious problems for these activists.
First, they claim to be advancing civil rights for LGBT-identifying individuals—who constantly change their own personal identities, with new categories constantly being added to the group as a whole. This makes it extremely difficult to advance civil rights, as the public can’t accurately identify the group that is receiving protection, and what type of protection is needed on a given day.
Second, unlike the days of racial segregation, LGBT-identifying children are not in fact being forced by the government to attend segregated schools or sit in separate sections of class.
LGBT activists are ignoring the first problem, and they attempt to fix the second problem by claiming something oddly similar to the 1950 University of Oklahoma case.
They claim that LGBT-identifying students are treated unequally in schools not because they are forced to sit in different areas, but because the nation as a whole does not permit transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex, does not require featuring LGBT people and ideas in school, and doesn’t teach children about the social and experimental medical ways to “transition” to another sex.
In other words, they believe the state is complicit in “separating” LGBT students from the student body by not reinforcing their ideology in the classroom.
The racial desegregation of America’s schools was about upholding the truth: that all men are created equal and deserve to be treated equally.
H.R. 5 by its very nature is not about achieving equal educational opportunities for all. It’s about forcing every administrator, teacher, child, and parent involved in schools to give any person who identifies as LGBT a platform in our schools, and special rights above and beyond everyone else.
In short, H.R. 5 isn’t about actual equality. It picks “equality” winners and losers.
So if Pelosi succeeded in getting H.R. 5 through Congress (which recently held a hearing on the bill), and if the president were somehow to sign it, what would be the practical implications for public schools?
For starters, major changes in your child’s curriculum. Pelosi and the LGBT activists who fund her campaign want to ensure “equality” by requiring “LGBTQ sexual experiences” to be included in schools. Sex education class can’t truly be equal unless all types of sexual experiences are taught, so leftist groups say.
Colorado already requires that children as young as 9 years old learn about “LGBTQ sexual experiences.” And California sex ed guidelines even require teaching children about having multiple sexual partners, and warning children about “religion abuse” that would include “forcing others to adhere to rigid gender roles [or n]ot allowing a partner to do things they enjoy.”
Both of these states’ curricula came from policies requiring LGBT inclusion in sexual education.
Sex ed class used to be for the purpose of helping students understand human biology and reproduction, which by nature includes everyone. H.R. 5 elevates LGBT sexuality and gives it special emphasis in the classroom.
And the “equality losers”? Parents and teachers who don’t believe the material is appropriate for their children for health, moral, religious, or other reasons.
But the changes envisioned in H.R. 5 don’t stop at sex ed class. The idea is to weave LGBT-centric themes throughoutthe school’s entire curriculum.
Take, for example, New Jersey’s new “LGBT curriculum” policy. Imagine a literature or history class where students are not just taught the historic contributions of literary giants like Emily Dickinson or former U.S. presidents, but the curriculum also questions the sexual preferences of our historic figures.
One textbook example ponders the fact that President James Buchanan “never married and had a very good friend who was living with him. He may have been gay.” A former American president is reduced to the sort of suspect commentary found in newspaper tabloids and gossip magazines.
What’s worse, parents really would have no opportunity to opt-out their children from exposure to this type of teaching or the topic of gender transition, since it is woven into every aspect of the curriculum.
The “equality losers” are, once again, teachers and parents who object—but especially children whose precious academic time will be consumed by nonsense speculation over what kind of sexual exploits any given historical figure was having.
That’s not equal rights. That’s ideology masquerading under the guise of rights. It is special rights for some at the expense of many others.
The Death of Equality
H.R. 5 is vying for a spot in our nation’s Equality Hall of Fame, comparing a sexualized political agenda to the brave students who endured segregation and then crossed town, under great hardship, to achieve racial desegregation.
If “all men are created equal” now means ensuring young children are informed that “little boys can become little girls,” then the centuries of power contained in those words ends with H.R. 5.
Autumn Leva is vice president of strategy for the Family Policy Alliance. Twitter: .
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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.