It is 3 p.m. and the school bus has deposited its cargo on the curbside.
The children scatter, lunchboxes and latchkeys swinging. A ten-year old
boy scales his front steps in full bounds and shoves his key into the
door. Books and bags fall onto the floor. The dog runs over and he pats
him disinterestedly. It is TV time, two hours before Mommy and Daddy get
He grabs a Coke and some chocolate and lies down on the couch with the
remote firmly held in his small hands. After catching the end of Pro-Wrestling,
he starts surfing. MTV catches his eye. There he finds three college students
stripping down to nothing and diving into a swimming pool. It is part
of the Real World. He is transfixed. A girl walks naked through the Hawaiian
house, unfazed and comfortable. Then there is a break for Chick Rock Week.
Alanis Morrisette, dopey-eyed, drifts naked through Laundromats, subways,
streets and intersections, thanking the camera for a series of abstract
nouns. The VJs offer praise for her artistry, so obviously influenced
by breakthrough artists like Madonna. We are reminded of her artistic
genius in the next video, which finds a salivating, hazy-expressioned
Madonna, grabbing herself with indescribable euphoria. Her dance moves
revolve around quarter-time masturbation.
It is 9 a.m. and the school bell rings. A ten-year old boy turns to the
girl who sits next to him and says, "I bet you touch yourself."
She flushes and turns away angry. He relishes her reaction. So he says
it louder. She appears flustered and tells him to shut up. He then grabs
her shirt and starts singing, "Express Yourself". Her shame
wells over. The teacher looks up and warms him, "One more time and
you're in Court!"
On May 24, 1999 the Supreme Court ruled that in a case where a school
receiving Federal money, failed to intervene where a student was subjected
to persistent sexual advances by another student, thereby creating an
intimidating, hostile, offensive and abusive school environment, the school
would be held liable for damages under Title IX of the Education Amendment
of 1972. (Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education). Title IX stating
that "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex,
be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected
to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal
The case brought forth, involved LaShonda Davis, a fifth-grader in a Duluth,
Georgia public school. She suffered from the sexually explicit, and vulgar
taunts of a classmate for the better part of a year, while the school
administration failed to discipline the foul-mouthed and often threatening
student. Her grades dropped. Her father even reported a suicide note had
been found, indicating that LaShonda's despair was quite real. Understandably
frustrated with the school's indifference, the Davis' took legal action.
The case eventually reached the Supreme Court.
With shockingly shallow reasoning, Justice O'Connor delivered the majority
opinion of the Court, in which she was joined by Justices Souter, Ginsberg,
Breyer and Stevens, finding that the concept of student-on-student sexual
harassment and gender discrimination has its place in grade school. And
as such, it cannot be tolerated under Federal law. Applying an artificial
vocabulary onto an artificially created problem, public schools are now
under the grim jurisdiction of the whims of jurisprudence. It is not hard
to imagine the climate of fear that this will breed in school administrations.
For years, afraid to discipline their students under the threat of liability,
now they face the equally daunting task of distinguishing childish behavior
from what now, in this collective thinking, constitutes a juvenile form
of gender discrimination. And even more disturbing, taxpayers will have
to pay for what a nation's cultural excesses have necessitated: the interference
of the Federal government in all matters.
It is easy to sympathize with students who are held hostage by the increasingly
vulgar and violent environments that are supposed to provide places of
learning. The climate of public schools has deteriorated to the point
of being ineffectual holding pens for the products of permissive households.
But acknowledging this, it is not the Federal government's role to settle
local schoolroom disputes. This problem has recent and reversible causes.
Advocates for children's rights have spent years undermining the authority
of schools to hand out discipline to an increasingly discipline-free student
body. Minors who are protected under numerous acts and provisions render
As Justice Kennedy pointed out in his eloquently argued dissenting opinion,
in which he was joined by Justices Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas, "the
practical obstacles that schools encounter in ensuring that thousands
of immature students conform their conduct to acceptable norms may be
even more significant than the legal obstacles"
But the majority opinion insisted that schools might readily diagnose
and deal with those situations that can be accurately described as "sexual
harassment" and take affirmative action. It is a concept conceived
in a bubble. And it is a bubble that educational theorists inhabit with
the liberal justices. Teachers' manuals offer examples of what may constitute,
"student-on-student sexual harassment", from Kindergarten through
third grade. Namely, a boy, being "put down" on the playground
because he wants to play house with the girls. Other manuals offer that
sexual harassment may be found in the sentence, "You look nice",
depending on the tone of voice.
Further, as the dissenting opinion noted, Title IX, in no way provides
for this kind of reading. Title IX applies to incidences of teacher-student
discrimination. Discrimination, by logic, must fall "under a school's
program". Meaning, discrimination must take the form of an authority
denying a student equal opportunity to participate fully in the school's
activities. Teachers represent the school's authority, and can be held
liable as employees for their actions against the students who are under
their control. How does, the albeit unpleasant, actions of a student,
who does not fall "under a school's program" as an authority
figure or employee, but is rather subjected to the school's program, render
the school liable for the child's actions. Is it not the parents' role
to answer for the immature child? And further, how do the acts of a student,
who is the legal and moral responsibility of his parents, constitute 'gender
discrimination' by the school board?
This is a surreal example of federalism overstepping its natural boundaries
and creeping into every aspect of private life, in the absence of individual
responsibility and in the aftermath of the crippling of school authority
to take disciplinary action against its students. The Courts have had
to assume the role of parent, church, and school. This decision is the
cost of limitless of irresponsible freedom, the result of which is the
imposition of tyranny.
Schools will now operate under a state of heightened sensitivity and paranoia.
And for every legitimate claim of abuse, there will be thousands of other
claims of exaggerated teasing. All claims will be heard and many will
win. There is no cap on damages sought. The Davis case was brought for
$500,000. Most schools are only apportioned with $679,000 a year. Citizens
will bear the burden for the countless and uncontrollable instances of
inappropriate behavior witnessed in schoolyards daily.
In the daytime, we will now indoctrinate our children with contrived and
grim concepts that can only bend their minds, poison their thinking and
twist their natural development, and then we will send them home to watch
several hours of libidinous sex. It is a Braver New World, than originally
imagined. Taxpayers bear the burden of a generation of hands-off parenting,
and a sex-saturated culture. And the ten-year old boy will only grasp
his crime partially. He will run home and forget about it, anxious to
flip on MTV.
Eileen M. Ciesla was first published on the web in ESR back
in April. Since then, she's written regularly for Right Magazine.