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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Science teachers: Don’t say ‘parent’

Who are these people? Photo: Serrano1004/Pixabay

Don’t say “parent,” advises a feature article in the National Science Teaching Association’s magazine. For a fun classroom activity, ask students to come up with new terms such as  “gene-givers” or “biological life transmitters,” suggest Sam Long, Lewis Steller and River Suh.

Show students that myriad, naturally occurring families exist, such as same-sex swan couples who see 80% of their offspring survive to adulthood compared to only 30% of offspring from different-sex swan couples (Braithwaite 1981).  On our website, we have compiled a Queer Species Database with hundreds of instances of diverse sexual behavior, sex, and gender.

Also out are “mother,” “father,” “male” and “female,”, notes Jonathan Turley. Teachers are urged to refer to “persons with ovaries” and “persons with testes,” as well as “XY individuals” and “XX individuals.”

These suggestions, if enforced by “microaggression” or “hostile environment” policies, would violate teachers’ and students’ free speech rights, writes Turley, a George Washington University law professor.

We have already seen successful litigation challenging mandatory pronoun usage, including the recent litigation involving a teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia. Yet we have also seen new cases, including the charging of three high school students for not using preferred pronouns.

Persons with Testes Day is coming up. Do you have an appropriately inclusive and anti-oppressive card for your XY biological life transmitter?

Credit: NSTA

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