Gender Activism in Schools

UPDATE: This piece has been expanded upon at http://www.4thwavenow.com. Please visit there for more parent stories on this topic.


The following post comes from Emily. As you read Emily’s account, please keep in mind that the children supported in transitioning by the activism at Emily’s school are going down a path that may well lead to becoming a life-long medical patient, taking off-label hormones, and amputating healthy tissue.

Emily is happy to make connections with other people who might be interested in this issue. If you would like to reach her, please use the contact form on this blog. 

Transgender ideology landed at my doorstep, or more correctly, the doorstep of my children’s school, for the first time last year. 2015 was the year transgender culture went mainstream and took its goals of divorcing sex from gender to the American public at large. The media, private businesses, the military, and public schools have all been swept up into the furor of who gets to use what bathroom. Honestly, I paid little attention to this movement and had no idea that it would move so powerfully or so quickly into my family’s life.

The school my children attended for 13 years was hit on all fronts – the bathroom issue was a part of the end goals, but the true intent of the efforts was to normalize the idea of “brain sex” and to acclimatize parents and teachers to children choosing their “gender.”
Last fall, a kindergartner’s parents came to the school demanding special accommodations for their “gender non-conforming” son, who now identifies as a transgender girl. Before school had even started, the family gave a presentation to administrators depicting their son’s progression into gender non-conformity. Over the course of the school year, the family used a playbook that seems to have been written by the gender activists for use in schools everywhere.

A bit of background on the school: It’s a public charter school with a strong emphasis on parental involvement and a careful, if not tedious approach to reviewing the materials used in the classroom. For example, curricula and books used in classrooms are approved by committees that always include parents as members. Our School Board has a majority of parents and the school adheres to the belief that parents are the primary educators. The idea is to make the school a more democratic, parent-led environment, which, best case scenario, means more trust between the school and the families.

So imagine my surprise when I received a communication from the grade school principal stating that there was a gender non-conforming (had to Google that) student in the school and that the kindergarten through fifth graders would be read a book called, “My Princess Boy” to create a more welcoming environment. This book’s premise is essentially an attempt to erase sex stereotypes (though the fact that the boy likes to dress as a princess is nauseatingly ironic), but in our school it was a Trojan horse meant to create sympathy for an activist agenda that was soon to come and to circumvent the process of curriculum review. Parents were only given a few days notice of this book’s reading. It can take a year to get a book approved for classroom use and our school can be so particular that they sometimes write their own books! I had never heard of someone getting material approved so quickly at our school.

In response to questions from parents, the administration claimed that they had to do everything they could to prevent bullying and that the gender non-conforming student had already been bullied by his peers. The school already had a bullying prohibition policy that was comprehensive and would have been sufficient to prevent or make corrections for bullying for any reason. But the claim was that this was an situation bordering on an emergency and something had to be done fast.

With the intention of calming the community, a “listening session” was held at the school for parents to air their opinions on the school addressing the issue of transgenderism in the classroom. The community was sharply divided and tears were shed. Many a parent stated that there was no way to help the transgender student and no way to stop the bullying without fully acknowledging and teaching transgenderism as a reality to all the students. It was made clear through the comments made that if you believed this issue was best left out of the classroom, you were bigoted.

Board meetings throughout the year displayed similar drama. Our usually poorly-attended board meetings were now packed. Outside trans activist groups would regularly attend and invite transgender teenagers get up to speak about their struggles with depression and suicide attempts. At one meeting, the school’s lawyer asked the Board chair to end public comment because it was creating a “hostile environment” after a parent reminded the board of their duty to respect students’ First Amendment right to express disagreement with gender ideology. Our letters to the board were even heavily redacted – sometimes removing more than half of the letter – before being published in the public board packets. Apparently stating disagreement is the same thing as making threats. At this point, those of us who opposed gender ideology agreed that the school was indeed an intolerant and unwelcoming environment – but only towards us.

The school paid for a psychologist to make a presentation on gender non-conformity and transgender children. He was also paid to train the teachers twice. His presentation to parents was full of slanted statistics on things like suicide rates gleaned from LGBT advocacy groups. It was clear from his talk that transgenderism is a very subjective diagnosis that is not backed by science. A mother of a transgender child who works with a local trans advocacy group also spoke during the presentation, giving a very sympathetic and emotional angle to the information offered. It smelled like propaganda and it was truly remarkable to see a top-performing school readily accept and promote the anti-scientific claims of gender ideology.

With wise advice from someone who was familiar with the gender activists, parents decided to write a petition opposing mixed sex bathrooms before it was even on the table as a policy proposal. Typically, we discovered, gender activists come into a school with an innocuous-seeming children’s book, or an anti-bullying program, and then cite the need to address gender-based bullying by writing a gender inclusion policy. The gender inclusion policies activists promote always include mixing the bathrooms and locker rooms, but that piece of information is often kept hush-hush until the frogs have thoroughly warmed up in the pot. Our petition opened parents’ eyes to the fact that mixed bathrooms were on the horizon. The petition received hundreds of signatures from parents in our (relatively small) school and it solidified and encouraged our community of parents who found themselves becoming more and more isolated.

While claiming to need confidentiality in every respect for their gender non-conforming son at school, the family still did an extended radio interview about their discovery of their son’s gender non-conformity. They also brought lawyers from a local trans advocacy group to school board meetings and gave numerous interviews to local news media. They were glowingly featured in every piece. The temptation to use their situation to achieve a celebrity status was obvious.

Students in the school were not immune to what was happening. Multiple kindergartners were pulled out of the school due to the confusion (and even trauma) they experienced from watching a boy “transform” into a girl. Five-year-old children know there are differences between boys and girls and this was beyond their ability to comprehend. Parents reported that their kindergartners were asking if they could grow up to become the opposite sex. The high school saw similar confusion. Two girls spoke out at a board meeting, claiming to be gender non-conforming. The GSA club focused its efforts exclusively on the transgender issue and papered the walls of the high school with signs stating that “Sex Does Not Equal Gender.” There was much discussion at lunch and on the playground of the transgender issue, even among the younger children. My fourth-grader chose not to talk about it all after he determined he was in disagreement with most of his friends. Parents started wearing bright purple buttons to school every day indicating their support of gender ideology. They were impossible to miss and prompted questions from many of the students.

By January it was clear that a different point of view would not be heard, so I joined with a group of mothers to plan an event that would give us all a voice. This is a public school that allows outside groups to rent its space, and we realized that they would have to rent it to us if we asked. So, rent it we did and crowdfunded the fees from supportive parents. We invited a local public policy lawyer to come in and speak to the legal, social and scientific claims of the transgender movement. Advertising the event drew the attention of our local LGBT activists and they (meaning every LGBT organization in our area) quickly organized a protest. We hired security guards and the local police called to offer their assistance for free in the form of a sergeant and three squads. Thankfully, they chose to protest silently by holding up signs and filling the hallway near the exits. Their involvement brought the media in, and parents in our group were prepared to speak to them, giving multiple interviews. As expected, the media largely painted us in a negative light, but we learned that even negative media attention can be helpful to get a message out. We also thought to have the event filmed professionally and uploaded it to YouTube so it could be shared across our state. We felt that we had successfully spread the word to other parents and schools in the state that gender ideology was coming their way.

Despite our efforts, the school ultimately decided to adopt a gender inclusion policy that mirrored the model policy that GLSEN promotes on its website. Students are now granted access to the school’s bathrooms, locker rooms and changing areas based on their “gender identity consistently asserted at school.” Students may also participate in overnight trips with accompanying arrangements of sleeping areas, based on their gender identity. The policy maintains that the school has an obligation to conceal a student’s transgender status from other students, parents and guardians to preserve privacy. Girls are no longer guaranteed a level playing field in sports participation, as boys are now allowed by this policy to play on girl’s teams without question. Students are also given the right to be addressed by a preferred name and pronoun and use of this name and pronoun is required of all members of the school community.

Amazingly, this policy wasn’t enough to satisfy the family of the transgender kindergartner. According to the family, by Februrary the transgender child had “expressed a consistent, persistent, and insistent desire to socially transition.” The parents gave notice to the school that their son would now present as a girl and met with administrators to determine how to unveil this transition to his classmates. The plan included a letter to kindergarten parents, a reading of the book, “I am Jazz”, and a communication directed at any parents who decided to opt their child out of this presentation. The plan was to go forward without express approval from any committee, the board or the community at large. In fact, the plan demanded that families not even be given advanced warning or be informed of their right to opt-out per State law.
The school had second thoughts and decided the next day not to implement the plan. The school’s reasoning: Families deserved the right to know if “gender education” would be shared with their children and families had the right to opt-out.

The family of the transgender child immediately pulled him out of the school and filed a discrimination charge against the school with our city’s Department of Human Rights. They alleged that the school “(a) failed to protect their child and other gender non-conforming and transgender students at Nova from persistent gender-based bullying and hostility, and (b) denied their child the ability to undergo a gender transition at Nova in a safe and timely way, as she had in all other areas of her life.” The complaint was filed with the assistance of Gender Justice, a local LGBT public interest law firm. It is also interesting to note that the transgender child’s father is a psychology PhD student at our State university and his “primary line of research focuses on the creation and implementation of gender inclusive policies and practices in K-12 public schools.” He has now started a non-profit organization to help public schools implement Gender Inclusion policies and practices.

The investigation of the school is ongoing and I watch for the results with great interest. This case could create a very serious precedent in gender discrimination law for our city, both in the public and private sphere.

With heavy heart, I too, pulled my children out of this school. This is the grade school that all of my children attended for the last thirteen years. We enrolled our oldest the first year the school was in operation and have made many decisions for our family based on our commitment to it. Our family is now struggling to pay private school tuition for seven children and will be doing so for the next 12 or more years. And we’re not the only family to walk away; many others have decided not to return for the upcoming school year. Applications to the school dropped precipitously for the first time in its history. The distrust runs deep and the school will be forever changed.

Of course, the entire US public school system is now facing the same gender ideology push we did last year. Obama’s transgender directive was delivered to every public school in the nation last May and ensures that this battle will play out many times over in the 2016-17 school year. Though I understand that our school was put in a difficult position and sympathize with that, ultimately I’m disappointed with their choices. Public schools have a duty to maintain a welcoming environment, which requires neutrality on some issues. An even more basic duty that was ignored by our school was to simple scientific facts and data. How ridiculous it was to hear our high school science teacher argue that biological sex is a subjective concept!

This experience has changed my life and I have committed myself to speaking out against gender ideology wherever I see it, but especially when it puts women, girls and students in danger. Going forward, I refuse to be intimidated and my resolve to speak the truth has only grown as the proponents of this lie act more and more boldly. I hope parents across this country will join me in defending our children against policies that subject them to harmful ideas and dangerous situations. Your child’s body and soul are at stake – Do not be afraid!

Emily