A young child stands outside closed school doors.

Group Taking Over School Boards Nationwide Furious Their Children Are Being Taught Basic Empathy

“Not every human is deserving of my child’s empathy.”

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Is this a quote from The Last of Us? Or maybe Ron DeSantis himself considering his cozy relationship with torture? Close, but no cigar.

This is actually a quote from a member of Moms For Liberty, a group of concerned parents who are evidently fighting to protect their child’s right to be a sociopath. The organization is currently filing a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s West Shore School district over its “Character Strong” education program. The program is an effort to promote kindness and understanding in children’s learning and teach them helpful non-sociopath social skills.

The Moms For Liberty aren’t having it.

Many of the group’s members are attempting to remove their children from the program, citing religious exemption. The irony is not lost on this former Catholic school kid. Isn’t the central tenant of Christianity empathy? You know, “do unto others” and all that good stuff? Wasn’t Jesus supposed to have been the one person in ancient Judean society who was dedicated to helping people society forgot about? You know, sex workers, lepers, the blind, the deaf, the poor, people who couldn’t walk, people who were possessed by demons (or more likely epileptic or mentally ill). Didn’t Jesus say “whatever you do unto the least of my brothers, you do unto me”? Pretty sure that’s a direct quote actually. No? I must have gotten that wrong? These Moms must think the central tenant of Christianity is “every man for himself.”

According to one of the group members, these sorts of issues involving common decency “should be talked about at home not with a teacher or in an educational environment.” After all, I’m sure that these parents wouldn’t want their kid accidentally holding the door open for one of “the gays.” That’s surely a first-class ticket to the ninth circle of hell right there, yeah? What about the song about “walking in someone else’s shoes” that the problem intends to teach to second graders? I guess they don’t want their kids walking into sin and death? Feeling games are off limit too apparently, like the one where they have to “explain what makes them feel a certain way.” No, kid. You gotta learn to bury those emotions. Bury ’em deep down and let ’em rot. Just like Mommy and Daddy did.

The wildest thing of all is that the school superintendent has gone on record to say that this course has nothing to do with teaching kids about conservative taboo topics like “Critical Race Theory” or Gender Studies. It was created to stop bullying, that’s it. No! Bullying puts hair on their chest! Teach little Timmy to be a man and empathize with his fists if someone decides to steal his lunch money! You don’t have to walk in someone else’s shoes if they’ve got a cast on both legs.

This is one small example of a nationwide attack against an educational system called SEL, short for socio-emotional learning. It’s meant to “support young students’ well-being and academic performance in five key areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making”. To right-wing parents, this must sound like “snowflake training.”

The movement began in the 1990s, and decades of research have proven that it yields positive results for students in both academic performance and classroom behavior. It’s so popular that it’s been adopted by over half of education programs in the United States.

But what about dunce caps? What about ruler raps on fragile 9-year-old knuckles? How is a kid supposed to LEARN from you if they don’t FEAR you? This seems to be the stance that right-wing groups across the nation are taking toward the issue. After all, the SEL system encourages students to openly discuss difficult topics such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. Surprise, surprise, anyone who opposes talking about things like race and gender is not going to be a fan. They believe that these systems are a ploy to trick kids into adopting liberal values. Apparently, “empathy” is a value that the party of Jesus doesn’t align itself with. It makes sense. This is the party that doesn’t care that firearms are now the leading cause of death for children in America. They’re also the party against the plight of immigrants, against tolerance of LGBTQ people, and against the acknowledgment of systemic racism in the United States. It’s all par for the course.

(via CBS 21, H/T Walter Masterson on TikTok, featured image: Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.