You may be well-aware of them. You may know them and not know what they really are. But they are around. They lurk in the shadows of your community. The are an extremist group, perhaps not in a violent enough way as to be labeled as domestic terrorists, but they do possess a terrorist-like agenda. They are the Lying Purple Teacher Haters (my term), better known as Purple for Parents. Their aim is the total-destruction of public education. Their methods are carefully designed to create fear in the general public by sharing a steady stream of misleading or outright untruthful propaganda. I almost hate to write this because I’d like them to get no attention whatsoever, but it’s too late for that, they are starting to get a lot of attention. I intend to expose them so that my readers can warn others to give them a wide berth. They are a dangerous, extremist hate group in an only slightly less offensive package than the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church and should be treated as such.
Before reading any further here, I’m going to give you the option of going on a very scary field trip—then you can return to read on, armed with a clearer picture of what I’ll be writing about. I’m going to share a link to the Purple for Parents Indiana chapter’s Facebook page. If you dare, go there and look around—read comments, look at the memes, watch the videos they post, kick the tires. Here is the link.
Alright, are you back? How do you feel? If you feel unnerved and kind of icky, read on. If you liked what you saw, you should probably just stop reading here because you ain’t gonna like where this is headed.
So, the Purple for Parents group really hates the thought of two scary acronyms they feel are being used in public schools to indoctrinate their children to hate themselves and their country. Those acronyms are SEL and CRT. At least they claim that’s how they feel…I’m not so sure they really believe half the stuff they claim. I think their leadership, at least, knows full well they are spreading half-truths, lies, and damned lies. Their agenda is to totally destroy public education as we know it in order for them rebuild it to get their true wish; an opportunity to turn public schools into true indoctrination factories that would churn out brainwashed clones who would be exposed to only one side of history, one with the fundamentalist conservative Christian stamp of approval—brainwashed clones who would be taught to discredit and fear the marginalized groups of society instead of learning to understand them and coexist with them—brainwashed clones who would be left without the skills to cope with their own mental health—brainwashed clones who’d be taught to seek relationships with “only their kind” and to be leery of “others”—brainwashed clones who see empathy as a weakness.
The people behind the Purple for Parents organization are the types of folks who would watch A Handmaid’s Tale and root for Gilead.
I am going to lay out the truth for you about what is actually being taught in public schools as opposed to what the Lying Purple Teacher Haters claim is being taught. First, let’s look at the current climate in public education and how schools are forced to handle myriad problematic issues.
Our current students are growing up in very divided times. Although our country has always been divided along political fault lines, we are obviously in a period now where the division has spiked. Social media and the competition between 24-hour news organizations have certainly upped the ante when it comes to the vitriolic nature of our political disagreements. Other factors relate to the enormous socio-demographic changes we are seeing in the makeup of our country. Our nation is not nearly as white as it used to be. In fact, at the rate of change we are currently experiencing, Caucasians will no longer be the majority racial demographic in the U.S. within the next 20 years. That scares the bejeebus out of a lot of folks in small towns and rural areas around this nation. That’s why you see so many white people spreading fear and misinformation about how dangerous cities are these days. We have also seen a surge in young people who are becoming more open about their sexual identities. Notice I didn’t say that we are seeing a surge in the amount of young people who identify as LGBTQ+, they’ve always been here, folks. We’ve seen a surge in the open, public nature of it. Many school-aged kids are feeling more willing to show the public who they are. This scares the bejeebus out of a lot of folks, too.
Public schools are really just reflections of what is happening in society at large because we are made up of the society at large. People living in small towns and rural areas who still cling to the illusion that their little world has not changed and that theirs is the “American Way,” have no direct reference point through which to gauge the change that our nation has undergone. When they see evidence of the changes through various media or, particularly when some of the young folks in their town begin to feel bold enough to step outside of their local norms and show who they really are, these people begin to lose their minds in panic, and they look for someone to blame. It must be those evil, communist public schools that are grooming our students to be gay!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard older people say, “when I was in school, we didn’t have all these gay kids like there are today.” Ummm, yes you did, they were just scared as hell of you and could not feel safe being themselves. Thankfully, little by little, society has changed to the point where many young people are feeling safe enough to take that risk and they’re letting people see the real them. If public schools are guilty of anything, it’s providing a climate where fear and shame don’t overcome children and cause them to hide in darkness. Groups like Purple for Parents want those kids to feel shame and they want them to dwell in darkness. So, they attack public schools and label them as “groomers.”
Purple for Parents and groups of their ilk have commandeered the acronym for Social and Emotional Learning, SEL, and turned it into a catchall villain they can blame for all the changes in society that they don’t approve of. In reality, SEL is a state mandated program to help students build the coping skills to help them navigate their quickly evolving lives and world. SEL doesn’t groom anyone to be anything besides better informed about how they can deal with the changes they are experiencing in themselves as they grow older and how they relate to others so that they can better get along with them.
Public schools must walk a tightrope between the interests of those on the right and left sides of the political spectrum. As public institutions, we are charged with the safety and education of kids from every imaginable walk of life. Public schools are being closely watched by both extremes. That makes it literally impossible for public schools to groom or indoctrinate students the way that the Lying Purple Teacher Haters claim we do. But we also can’t indoctrinate students in the way they want us to. Doing either of these things would bring the ire of parents down upon us.
Let me give you a perfect example of what I mean when I write of public schools reflecting ever-shifting societal norms. The other day, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Mobituaries, written and hosted by CBS Sunday Morning’s Mo Rocca. The topic of this episode was interracial marriage. Teaching, as I do, in a large urban school district, I have students with skin tones ranging from the whitest of white to the darkest of dark and everything in between. Many of my students are the product of racially mixed families. This is absolutely the norm in any school system in or near racially diverse towns and cities. But it has only become the norm within my lifetime. It was the year of my birth, 1967, when racially mixed marriages were first made legal nationwide with the Supreme Court ruling in the landmark case, Loving v. Virginia. Before that ruling, interracial marriage was still against the law in Virginia as well as about a third of the states. It’s still astounding to me that this change happened within my lifetime. According to the Mobituaries podcast, polls indicated that in 1959, only 4% of the United States population were in favor of mixed-race marriages—96 out of every 100 Americans were against it! In a poll taken in 2021, 94% of Americans were in favor of mixed-race marriage. That is a truly remarkable societal shift within a relatively short amount of time, and most of our public schools now reflect it. However, just my teaching of this topic would likely be considered CRT by groups like the Lying Purple Teacher Haters. I’m not kidding. They don’t want me talking about race in history class at all. They have kidnapped an acronym from an upper college-level course called Critical Race Theory and demonized it, and weaponized it to represent how they claim public schools are grooming their white children to be ashamed of who they are and hate their country. Meanwhile, if I were to teach history class the way they would have it taught, I’d be teaching half my students that their families’ stories in American history are just little sidenotes not worthy of examination. Those students would be left with little to no understanding of the root causes of the situations in which they find themselves living. Their entire existence would have almost no context. Do you begin to see what we are up against?
Depending on how I present American history in my class, for instance, I could be stepping on the toes of European American families, African American families, Native American families, Mexican American families, Asian American families, Jewish families, Islamic families, Protestant-Christian families, Catholic-Christian Families, and the list goes on and on. I am keenly aware of this as a history teacher. The only way to teach history fairly is to present every possible perspective on what happened and then leave it for the students to sort out how they feel about it all. Purple for Parents and the like don’t want multiple perspectives about history taught because they don’t trust kids to process it critically. They are scared to death of young people being encouraged and pushed to think critically. They seem to think that young people, given the chance, will always choose the more liberal point of view. I wonder why that is. I truly do, because I can tell you from years of personal experience, young people don’t always come down on one side or the other. Like us, their opinions are all over the map, and that’s a good thing.
In closing, I’d just like to point out the obvious here. Purple for Parents, you can have it your way. That’s what private schools are for. There are many fine private schools available to you. Choose the one you wish to indoctrinate your child. Public schools are not going to do it for you.
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