On September 29, 2022, the Deliberative Citizenship Initiative, in partnership with Davidson College’s Educational Studies Department and Political Science Department, co-hosted a Deliberative Forum on “Parents and Schools: Who Should Teach our Children about Race, Gender, and Sexuality.” The event included both an expert panel discussion and small group deliberations on the topic.
The DCI selects both locally and nationally relevant topics for its forums that citizens – in the broadest sense of the word – have strongly-held, diverse, and conflicting views on and are highly salient to current and ongoing social and political debates. The topic of this forum certainly fits this description, and the strength of views on the topic were demonstrated by the student protests that were held outside the event. Protesters objected to the inclusion of Dr. Melissa Moschella, an associate professor of philosophy at Catholic University, on the panel due to her views on abortion, race, and transgender issues.
As background, the DCI invites panelists to its Deliberative Forums in order to introduce attendees to diverse perspectives on the topic at hand and provide an opportunity for them to witness good argument and a thoughtful, respectful exchange of reasons between people who may disagree deeply. The DCI does NOT endorse the views of any of the panelists it invites but selects them based on the depth and relevance of their expertise to the topic under discussion.
The DCI is committed to the idea that listening to speakers with whom we disagree does not imply agreement; it suggests a willingness to seek out the truth together and to better understand one another’s perspective as fellow citizens with equal status at the table. Melissa Moschella and Derek Black, the event’s other invited panelist, are two of the most highly-qualified and well-published scholars who can speak to the contentious questions surrounding the role of schools and parents in educating children about social issues.
Given their diverse viewpoints, panelists like Dr. Moschella and Dr. Black may hold views that some citizens reasonably find offensive. The DCI is committed to creating spaces for people to engage with, evaluate, and challenge these positions in a productive and civil manner.
More generally, the DCI is committed to catalyzing creative, broadly-supported solutions to the major social challenges facing our community and society – including racism, sexism, and other forms of injustice – through the process of deliberation across differences.
The video of the event is posted below, and we invite everyone to view the panel discussion, which was moderated by Professor Dan Layman, an associate professor of philosophy at Davidson and a co-convener of the DCI. Dr. Layman asked direct questions of each panelist while also allowing them to follow-up on each other’s points. Their discussion was followed by an hour-long opportunity for attendees to engage with one another on these topics in discussions facilitated by the DCI’s trained facilitators. Periods when we had some technical difficulties (this was our first hybrid in-person/virtual event) and when the discussion was temporarily disrupted by protesters have been edited from the video; all comments from the panelists are still included.DCI-Parents-and-Schools-Deliberation-Guide_9.26.22