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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Don't say 'cisheteronormativity'

What's the right age for students to learn that the gender binary is a product of white colonialism?

In Portland, Oregon public schools, the "sexual revolution starts in kindergarten," writes Christopher F. Rufo. Many of the city's K-5 teachers are using a radical curriculum based on academic "queer theory," he writes. He posts documents.

Kindergarteners learn that “person with a penis” may be a boy, but not necessarily, and a“person with a vulva,” may be a girl. Or not. The "gender spectrum" is "infinite," like the number of stars in the sky.

By first and second grade, students that it is "not true" that there are "only two genders, girls and boys." A lesson called “Our Names, Genders, and Pronouns” teaches six- to eight-year-olds they can be “boys,” “girls,” “cisgender,” “transgender,” or “nonbinary,” and experiment with pronouns such as “they/them” and “ze/zir.”

In third through fifth grade, the district begins lessons on how the categories of "man" and "woman" are used to oppress minorities. “The culture, systems, and assumptions that everyone is straight and cis is called cisheteronormativity,” the lesson plan states. Students are told this oppressive system is designed to benefit “white straight cis boys” and to punish “LGBTQIA2S+” people, writes Rufo.

. . . Teachers are told to eliminate the terms “girls and boys,” “ladies and gentlemen,” “mom and dad,” “Mrs. Mr., Miss,” and “boyfriend, girlfriend,” in favor of terms such as “people,” “folx,” “guardians,” “Mx.,” and “themfriend.” Students are shown photographs of “gender non-conforming” individuals and encouraged to celebrate the flags for “nonbinary,” “genderqueer,” “gender fluid,” and “Two-Spirit” identities. For some students, the subversion of the gender binary might also involve a gender transition. The curriculum provides a detailed explanation of how to “pause puberty” through “hormones and/or surgeries” and advice on adopting a “nonbinary” identity and set of pronouns.

(Why is "folx" preferable to the unisex "folks?" Asking for a themfriend.)

Fifth graders are asked to make a “commitment to change,” writes Rufo.

Students receive a list of six commitments, including: “I commit to learning more about what LGBTQIA2S+ words mean and how they have changed over time”; “I commit to learning about the history and leadership of Black trans women”; “I commit to practicing pronouns and correcting myself EVERY time”; “I commit to attending QSA/GSA and being a leader at my school”; and “I commit to watching and reading books, movies, and TV shows that have LGBTQIA+ characters.”

Portland Public Schools should ask their students' parents if they think these lessons are appropriate in elementary school -- or ever. Do they want their children to pledge support to the LGBTQIA2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit) agenda?

“We make certain that our curriculum is LGBTQ+ inclusive for students who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, gender-queer, and queer to create a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students,” a district spokesperson wrote, adding that families have the legal right to “opt-out” of any part of a sex education class.

Do parents of "white straight cis boys" see this curriculum as "inclusive" of their children? I'd guess a lot of non-white parents wouldn't be crazy about it either.

Nearly all parents want their children to know that it's OK to be different -- and not OK to bully classmates who are different in some way. That seems like something little kids could learn. Not so many syllables.

I learned about pronouns in fifth grade, along with nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, etc. Prepositions had something to do with a squirrel and a tree.

I believe that was the year when girls avoided boys for fear of getting "boydle germs." There was a lot of squealing involved.

The summer after fifth grade I learned about the existence of homosexuality. I had to look it up in the dictionary.

1,358 views3 comments


Oct 22, 2022

I read your post, but I still don't understand why you suggest that the word "cisheteronormativity" should be avoided. I also fail to see how the policy that parents can opt out of sex ed classes for their children is related to how these teachers explain gender.

I wonder what else you were alluding to when you mention that "the gender binary is a product of white colonialism" because you move on rather quickly. This seems contrary to what you say later in your post when you suggest that the LGBTQ community has an inappropriate agenda. If they are against the long-lasting effects of white colonialism, shouldn't they be supported?


Aug 06, 2022

That suggested curriculum is indeed goofy, but Rufo is mistaking the product of a committee for what will actually occur in the classroom. Almost no teachers would attempt to cover these issues (other than, as you say Joanne) to encourage (even require) children to be kind to those who are different.

That's not to say that parents and others should not care when committees come out with such inappropriate lessons. Any more than my teachers in the '50's should have been asked to teach lessons on anti-communism that certain Board members wanted.


Aug 03, 2022

Pure evil!

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