The age of discretion. Children’s awareness of their Sexuality
The LGBT community seem to be winning acceptance by virtually all of UK society. Fair enough, we should all respect the variations in our genetic development and allow those of different persuasions to practise whatever sexual mores that comes naturally to them.
In Birmingham, parents of mainly Muslim children object to their sons and daughters being taught LGBT rights at an age they believe to be below those children’s age of discretion. They also believe that LGBT values do not accord with the teachings of Allah, the main tenet of their religion.
The state and the City fathers of Birmingham disagree with the parents and have applied an injunction from the courts to stop the parents demonstrating their objections. Additionally the authorities insist that sex education including LGBT issues are taught to all youngsters from a very early age.
Who is right?
Firstly, one can see the reason why tolerance of minority habits and behaviour is a good thing in a liberal society.
Secondly, it is easy to understand that parents of children as young as six object to their impressionable children being influenced on what they see as a moral issue, especially when the children are below the age of discretion.
Thirdly, if we are to have sexual diversity freedom, we should surely have religious freedom.
How do we square the circle?
If the family is to mean anything, then surely parents have the right to bring up their children in the moral and religious codes they believe in.
Whilst the LGBT community rightly want to see their rights recognised, should this right over ride the parental view? Particularly for children who are under the age of discretion?
The mayor of Birmingham has labelled the behaviour of the parents as prejudiced against the LGBT community. His opponents would argue that the findings of the courts, the local authorities are prejudiced against the traditional nuclear family.
The point of settlement must address the definition of the age of discretion. When are children fit to make rational decisions about personal behaviour and beliefs of minorities? In short when do parents agree that a child is free to think for him/herself?
Open mindedness and tolerance, the defining value of a free society, have to be based on the acceptance of conflicting views, as well as respecting traditions and religions. Parental responsibility, surely, cannot be suborned by the state.