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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Instead of gender dogma, why not say: 'There's no wrong way to be you'

Seven states now require schools to teach about gender identity: California’s Department of Education tells kindergarten teachers that “some children in kindergarten or even younger have identified as transgender.”

Florida bans teaching on gender identity till fourth grade, and at least a dozen other states are considering similar legislation.

What's really going on in schools?, asks Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic. He looks at Evanston/Skokie School District 65, in the Chicago suburbs, which posted its preK-12 lessons during LGBTQ+ Equity Month. The focus on gender equity "is similar to curricula I’ve seen elsewhere from progressive educators," he writes.

Friedersdorf favors some instruction on gender identity. He envisions teachers saying: "There's no wrong way to be you."

He sees a problem with the District 65 approach, which "mistakes dogma for established fact."

. . . while embracing many of the diversity-affirming values that I favor in public schools, the District 65 curriculum gives ideological goals precedence over what is age-appropriate.
For example, in prekindergarten, five days of lessons are set forth, all oriented around the LGBTQ Pride flag. Students learn its history, each color’s meaning, and how to make their own arts-and-crafts version with rainbow colors, plus black and brown stripes to represent people of color.

After reading Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, the pre-kindergarten teacher defines gay, lesbian, straight, nonbinary and queer to her class of four-year-olds.

"A tomboy who feels unlike her female peers might not necessarily be nonbinary; instead, she might be a masculine girl," writes Friedersdorf. "Nonbinary and queer are not synonyms."

Adults disagree on what "nonbinary" means, he points out. Four-year-olds aren't ready to jump into this debate.

Another lesson tells kindergarteners that children who identify as transgender "might look to you like a boy, but dress and act like a girl."

But previous lessons said that "there are no such thing as boys’ toys and girls’ toys, or boys’ clothes and girls’ clothes — any boy can wear a dress and any girl can play with toy trucks," writes Friedersdorf.

So, are gender stereotypes real or not?

Cinderella has been portrayed in many ways, but she always wears a nice dress to the ball.

By first grade, students are introduced to gender pronouns, including "tree," and urged to pick their own.

Second graders “are encouraged to focus on stereotypes around gender, attraction and race” in Cinderella, wondering "how would the story be different if Cinderella had short hair and wore jeans and tennis shoes to the ball?" Then the class rewrites the story “to make it more inclusive, relevant, and less sexist.”

One wonders: Who wants to wear jeans and sneakers to a ball? Wouldn't a gay Cinderella want to dress up -- perhaps an enchanting tux -- in hopes of meeting a charming Princess?

The District 65 curriculum teaches "widely contested beliefs about gender identity as though they are fact," writes Friedersdorf. That's indoctrination, and it's just as wrong as if the views being taught were evangelical or Muslim or Catholic.

If it's a choice between "the cutting edge of queer theory" or no mention of gender identity, many parents who'd be fine with "you be you" will opt for no gender lessons at all, he concludes.

I'm seeing a lot of push back to transgender ideology from liberals, as well as from gays and lesbians and others.

"There is no one right way to be a boy or girl," argues Lisa Selin Davis, author of Tomboy, in a column in the Boston Globe. "You can be as masculine or feminine as you want to be or naturally are" -- without tampering with your body.

Stop telling tomboys they're transgender, writes Colin Wright in the Wall Street Journal.

The left is on the wrong side of the barricades, argues Bruce Lesnick on Reality's Last Stand. "Gender ideology, when allowed to influence policy, has significant negative impacts on women, gays, lesbians, children, free speech, freedom of religion, and democratic rights." It's bad politics.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Sep 28, 2022

I'm glad when districts in such misgoverned states post such curricula: they clearly signal to families like mine, and the like-minded , not to move into their neighbourhoods, and to continue to support educational freedom, so that such ideology cannot be forced on the unsuspecting.


Sep 26, 2022

I'd be interested to know how many Evanston/Skokie teachers actually delivered that curriculum "with fidelity?" It's a very liberal/progressive community, but it's also full of people who don't go along with unfounded claims, which describes large parts of gender theory. I agree with Friersdorf -- teach tolerance, but don't go beyond what's appropriate for the age group.

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