Sex-change guide for kids riles Brits

Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity?, which will be introduced at some British primary schools, is — surprise! — causing controversy, writes Ian Miles Cheong on Heat Street.

Some are saying “no” to the book, which will be distributed by a government-funded organization, Educate and Celebrate, for use in primary schools.

Written by CJ Atkinson, a self-described “trans advocate,” the book aims to teach children as young as seven about gender identity and is told from the point of view of a child unhappy with their gender.

Kit, who’s 12, explains:

“When I was born, the doctors told my mum and dad that they had a baby girl, and so for the first few years of my life that’s how my parents raised me. This is called being assigned female at birth. I wasn’t ever very happy that way.”

Kit takes puberty-blocking drugs, wears boys’ clothes, becomes “he” and discusses sex-change surgery. “His friends include a genderfluid student who goes by ‘they’ and another who uses the ‘xe’ pronoun,” writes Cheong.

‘If you want a great gay novel, write it’

More than 50 years ago, a Tulsa high school student wrote a novel about the conflict between “greasers” and rich kids. S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders became a young adult classic. It was made into a movie in 1983.

Hinton wrote other young-adult novels featuring working-class Oklahomans in the ’60s and ’70s.

Now the author is under fire for not including openly gay and black characters, reports Heat Street.

Some readers think two of her Outsiders‘ characters are gay. Hinton says they’re not.

“Want a great gay novel,” she tweeted. “Write it.”

She added: “I am a heterosexual writer writing about heterosexual characters. Being attacked for being heterosexual.”

How am I supposed to know what a gay character goes through? Not writing about the black experience either. I can’t know that!

If she did feature gay or black characters, wouldn’t she be guilty of cultural appropriation?

Everyone hates sex ed

Kids around the world hate sex education, concludes an analysis of 55 studies conducted in 10 countries.

In addition to the U.S., students were surveyed in UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Iran, Brazil and Sweden between 1990 and 2015, reports TIME.

Schools “don’t take into account that sex is a potentially embarrassing and anxiety provoking topic,” study author Pandora Pound, a research fellow at the University of Bristol, told TIME. “The result can be awkward, painful and unsatisfactory for all involved.”

The second major problem was that schools seemed to deny that their students were sexually active, which made the information out of touch with reality, irrelevant and overly skewed toward heterosexual intercourse, the researchers say. There was little practical information: telling students about community-health services, for example, what to do if they got pregnant or the pros and cons of different kinds of birth control. Teachers also presented the information as overly scientific, with hardly a nod to pleasure and desire; female pleasure, specifically, was rarely mentioned.

Sex ed “needs to be delivered by experts who are sex positive, who enjoy their work and who are in a position to maintain clear boundaries with students,” Pound says. Students say it’s “cringey” to hear their regular teachers discussing sex.

Beyond bathrooms, the transgender experience

Transgender students need more than a restroom, reports Yasmeen Qureshi for Ed Week. She profiles a transgender student who worked with educators at her Louisville, Kentucky high school to create a welcoming environment for all students.

(Ex-)boy wins state honors in girls’ track 

Tia Goward, “Ice” Wangyot and Joei Vidad competed in the 200-meter sprint in the 2016 Alaska State Track Championships in Anchorage. Photo: Bob Hallinen/Alaska Dispatch News

A (biological) boy won all-Alaska honors in girls’ track and field, reports the Daily Caller.  Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot, 18, who identifies as a girl, won fifth place in the 100-meter dash and third place in the 200-meter.

“I’m glad that this person is comfortable with who they are . . . but I don’t think it’s competitively completely 100-percent fair,” said Saskia Harrison, who just failed to qualify for the finals.

“Genetically a guy has more muscle mass than a girl, and if he’s racing against a girl, he may have an advantage, ” another runner, Peyton Young,  told the Alaska Dispatch News.

Wangyot, who moved to Alaska from Thailand two years ago, also competed in girls volleyball and girls basketball earlier this school year.

Is it fair to let someone who’s physically male compete against girls?

Sex education

Trans teacher wins $60K, say ‘they’ rules


Leo Soell in their fifth-grade classroom in Gresham, Oregon. Photo: Kristyna Wentz-Graff, Oregonian

When Brina Soell became Leo, the fifth-grade teacher asked coworkers to use “they” and “them” instead of “she” or “he.” Soell, who identifies as “transmasculine and genderqueer,” complained of harassment, reports the Oregonian. Gresham-Barlow officials agreed to give Soell $60,000 to settle emotional damage claims, add gender-neutral bathrooms to all schools, clarify policies about transgender teachers and mandate trainings for all principals.

Sexual harassment policies are moving from telling people what not to say to demanding that they “must say certain things,” writes Scott Shackford on Reason.

New York City has threatened employers with heavy penalties if they don’t ensure their employees address each other (and customers) by the pronoun of their choice, including “ze/hir” and other non-standard pronouns. The directive also applies to landlords and tenants, professionals and clients and business owners and customers. Everyone is supposed to ask everyone and remember who’s what.

Requiring people to say things they don’t wish to say violates free-speech rights, writes Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor.

When the government is acting as sovereign, telling us what we must or must not say on pain of coercively imposed legal liability, the First Amendment is at full force. That force, I think, should preclude government commands that we start using new words — or radical grammatical modifications of old, familiar words — that convey government-favored messages about gender identity or anything else.

He notes that Soell complained of harassment, in part, due to other teachers “refusing to call me by my correct name and gender to me or among themselves” (emphasis added), as well as posting “messages on Facebook that denigrate transgender people.”

Obama: Open restroom doors to trans kids


Transgender students have a civil right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, regardless of their biological sex, the Obama administration declared today in a “guidance” to schools.

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice sued North Carolina over its “bathroom law” requiring people to use the public bathroom that “corresponds to the sex on their birth certificates,” notes NPR.

Under federal law, Title IX, schools that receive federal funding are not allowed to discriminate against students on the basis of sex. The guidance going out to school districts on Friday makes it clear that as far as the departments of Justice and Education are concerned, that word “sex” includes gender identity.

The administration is threatening to deny federal funds to school districts that don’t comply.

This is bureaucratic overreach, writes Hans Bader, who worked in the Education Department’s Civil Rights Office years ago. “Title IX does not mandate national central planning for bathrooms.”

Telling transgender students to use a private restroom, instead of the one that matches their gender identity, is not OK, according to the guidelines.  If there’s a “girls’ room” — or a “girls’ locker room — then students who see themselves as girls have a civil right to use it, the Education Department says.

Letting transgender students use girls’ restrooms, which have private stalls, is not the real problem, I think. (I’ll let males comment on letting a transgender male use the boys’ room.)

Transgender Boy

It’s locker rooms. I just can’t see requiring girls to undress and shower with a biological male. I took four years of P.E. in high school (by Illinois state law): I remember how embarrassed girls were to get naked in front of other girls. Don’t non-transgender students have privacy rights? Justice Ruth Ginsberg thinks they do.

While I don’t fear transgender students will molest classmates, I do worry that creepy “cis” guys will see an opportunity to invade locker rooms.

In college dorms, transgender students would have a right “to access housing consistent with their gender identity.” So, your daughter could share a room with a biological male who identifies as female, while your son could be undressing in front of a biological female who identifies as male.

I think many middle-of-the-road voters will share those qualms, question whether shared locker rooms and dorm rooms are a civil right and resent being called bigots.

Donald Trump said states should decide and pointed out, accurately, that transgender people are a “tiny, tiny” percentage of the population.

I haven’t seen a comment from Hillary Clinton yet today on the new guidelines. If I were her, I’d be nervous.

If a kid is gay, what can a teacher say?

Hawaii may ban teachers, counselors and psychologists from trying to change a child’s sexual orientation, reports the Washington Times.

California, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have banned therapists from using “conversion therapy” to persuade teens to reject their homosexuality. “A bill introduced in Congress would ban conversion therapy nationwide,” reports The Atlantic. “In April, President Obama called for an end to these therapies for gay youth.”

In the '90s, My So-Called Life included Rickie Vasquez, a gay teen who liked to use the girls' restroom to put on make-up.

In 1994, My So-Called Life introduced Rickie Vasquez, a gay teen who liked to use the girls’ restroom to put on make-up.

“Really, it’s a subtle form of child abuse,” said Camaron Miyamoto, the director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Student Services at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Republican Rep. Bob McDermott said parents have a right to choose treatment for children who are questioning their sexuality, but called for the state Department of Education to bar teachers from counseling minors about sexual orientation.

The state can regulate what topics of discussion are appropriate for public school teachers on the job, but the proposed law goes much farther to infringe free-speech rights, writes Scott Shackford on Reason‘s Hit & Run. It appears to regulate private school teachers and “a teacher engaged in private matters on his or her own time.”

Censoring speech can backfire, he warns. Only two years ago, conservative state legislators tried to pass laws that forbid teachers and educators from discussing homosexuality with students for fear teachers would tell kids it’s OK to be gay.