Parent and community concerns in the United States have drawn criticism for their use of the term grooming to describe the ideological manipulation taking place in public schools around the country — isolating children from their parents and replacing them with hyper-activist teachers and counselors. This is displayed most often in intersectional shaming, identity workshops, school-sponsored social pressure and interfering directly with the child-parent relationship.
The first large-scale practice of ideological manipulation is found in generational and collective shaming. Starting in the earliest history and social studies lessons, students are taught that prior generations were collectively bigoted, ignorant and often evil. Any traditional idea or belief is considered antiquated and useless. In matters of sex, race, faith, policy and other social frameworks, students are taught that only the most progressive view is moral, righteous and fair.
Countless counseling workshops are mandatory, in which students sit through lectures on the virtue of the latest progressive talking points, made to participate in “privilege walks,” where their inherited statuses and characteristics are painted as a sin to be repented of, and pressured to join “alliance” groups to show they don’t share the same horrific views as their parents.
These alliance groups are built around the “protection” of racial and sexual stereotypes — popularized as “identities.” Students are encouraged to engage with their sexual desires, gender norms and racial stereotypes to build what will be their core identity.
Kimberlé Crenshaw and other critical theory scholars have encouraged this intersectionality-view of race and color since the 1980s, drawing from “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire to claim that any group not white, straight, Christian, and male is by nature a victim and therefore must find value in their inherent characteristics.
Gloria Ladson-Billings of the University of Wisconsin-Madison encouraged the use of these ideas in K-12 education in 1995 and 1998, wherein she argued that in order to teach any nonwhite student, you must first view them through a lens of appropriate racial stereotypes — such as the suggestion that black students should be encouraged to act how she defines as appropriately black, regardless of their parents’ wishes or standards.
Teachers are instructed to consider traditional values many American families have, such as dedication, punctuality, citing evidence, individualism, personal responsibility and the nuclear family itself — as characteristics of white supremacy. We expect our teachers to stand in firm opposition to what the public education system considers racist, sexist or homophobic, while in reality these are the rather benign qualities that unify American families regardless of color or nationality.
This doctrine has culminated in the direct opposition to parents by public educators in recent months. Countless posters and videos by snarky teachers inform students that if their parents don’t accept any choice they make, the teacher is their parent now.
Teachers act as gatekeepers, keeping parents at bay with the condescending sentiment that, “You aren’t educated enough to rear your children — but I am.” School counselors and teachers are encouraged to hide student concerns, medical issues and sexual activities from parents.
Some schools have gone as far as creating special changing closets for students to change into their perceived identity once they arrive — fostering a Black Mirror-esque idea that students leave their homes and parents to truly live their lives with a new family that “actually loves them.”
Many have been critical of the term grooming to describe the ideological manipulation of students to mistrust their parents in favor of the state. When one looks objectively at the nature of how students in the United States are currently taught to think, act and feel — almost always in direct opposition to the home, one must reckon with the same patterns of manipulation found in Nazi Germany, East Germany and Maoist China.
Grooming may not be sexual or pedophillic in nature — and regardless of the connotation narrowed around the term through the rise of the internet in the early Aughts, the current progressive approach to ideological manipulation in children fits the operational and passive definitions. Regardless of what you choose to call it, the wedge being driven between students and their parents is insidious, and it should be called out whenever observed.
Anthony Kinnett is a curriculum developer and coordinator in Indianapolis. He is the co-founder and owner of The Chalkboard Review and has written for National Review, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, and the Washington Examiner. @TheTonus
Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to clarify that the quote: “You aren’t educated enough to rear your children — but I am.” is not a direct quote. Links have also been added to examples of values being labeled racist.