Who should decide when and how to discuss issues like sex and gender with young children? Just a decade ago, this was thought to be the sole purview of parents. But that is no longer the case. Why is this shift happening, and who’s behind it? Karol Markowicz addresses these important questions.
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At what age is it appropriate for grammar school teachers to discuss issues like sex and gender with their students? Should it be done with kids as young as pre-K? Second grade? Fifth?
Even a decade ago, the most common answer would have been “never.” These are simply not appropriate subjects for young children. If for some reason they did have to be raised, it would be the parents’ job, not the teachers’.
Today it’s much different.
Now these are pressing questions and very much on the minds of parents. They are part of what the media calls “the Culture War.” But parents didn’t start this war. The war has been waged on us. Until recently, we had no idea it was even happening. Now it’s hand-to-hand combat—school boards vs. mom and dad.
It’s not clear who’s winning.
Starting in September 2022, New Jersey first-graders will learn about gender identity under new sex education guidelines.
A sample lesson plan reads as follows: “You might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts. You might feel like you’re a girl even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘boy’ parts. And you might not feel like you’re a boy or a girl, but you’re a little bit of both. No matter how you feel, you’re perfectly normal!”
Yes, Junior might be struggling with his fractions, but, never fear, he’s rock solid on his preferred pronouns.
The Evanston–Skokie School District 65 in Illinois has adopted a new “LGBTQ+ Equity Week” curriculum that will teach kids in Pre-K and Kindergarten about people who have more than one gender or no gender at all. Kids in first grade can pick their own pronouns, including ze, zir, and tree, and are told they can switch pronouns any time they wish. All “feelings” are respected all the time. Third graders, generally around 8 years old, are also encouraged to overcome their prejudice that gender is binary.
Parents have mounted a counterattack. Our deep concern that our children are being prematurely sexualized and thus confused about their identity is manifest in Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act. Its text plainly states that discussion of sexual orientation is out of bounds. This piece of legislation, which now has counterparts in several other states, has, in turn, been mocked by Progressives.
Setting aside the appropriateness of teaching small children that their gender is malleable or that kids designating “tree” as their preferred pronoun is okay, Progressives say the Florida law is “unnecessary.” Why? Because, these progressives claim, these lessons aren’t actually taught. They are a figment of the parents’ imagination.
But if this is all just a fevered dream on the right, then opponents of these bills are caught in their own circular logic. If these topics aren’t taught in schools, then why is the bill controversial? Florida would be legislating against nothing.
But that’s not what’s happening.
Recently, in the Glendale Unified School District in California, parents confronted their school board after they learned that a third-grade teacher had shown their kids videos for Gay Pride Month that included nudity and discussions of sexual arousal.
A decade ago, this teacher would have been chased out of town with pitchforks—metaphorically speaking. Today it’s “controversial.”
The purpose of the Florida law is to stop this sort of “education.” Activists and their media allies say the Florida bill stigmatizes kids who are not heterosexual or have gay parents. Never mind that being straight is also a sexual orientation. The point is any classroom discussion about sex and gender identity should be off the table.
It’s not surprising parents want to protect their small children from inappropriate lessons that have nothing to do with what school is supposed to be about—you know, quaint notions like reading, writing, and arithmetic. What’s surprising is that it’s even an issue at all.
Why is this madness—and what is it, if not madness—even happening? And who’s behind it? It’s not like there was a crying demand from seven-year-old boys to identify themselves as a girl or as a boy and a girl.
These questions are not easy to answer. The sudden eruption of madness is never easily explained. But this much is not in doubt:
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