A new California law is agenda driven, hurts kids and is totally unnecessary.
A look back through recent history reveals that legislators and the educational establishment, taking its marching orders from the teachers unions, have needlessly foisted sexuality into children’s lives. The radical agenda of the activists seeks to divest children of any prudish, old-world morality imposed upon them by their clueless, Neanderthal parents. Just a few cases in point:
- In 2004, the National Education Association gave its prestigious Human Rights Award to Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN). This is the group that presided over the infamous “Fistgate” conference held at Tufts University in Massachusetts in March 2000, where state employees gave explicit instructions about “fisting” and other forms of gay sexual activity to children as young as 12. The conference was secretly recorded and its extraordinarily vile contents can be heard here.
- At a UN conference in 2011, Diane Schneider, an NEA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Trainer of Trainers, said “Oral sex, masturbation, and orgasms need to be taught in education.” She told this to the audience at a panel on combating homophobia and transphobia. Additionally, she advocated for more “inclusive” sex education in US schools, with curricula based on “liberal hetero and homosexual expression.” Lest parents think they could just excuse their child from that class, she claimed that the idea of sex education “remains an oxymoron if it is abstinence based, or if students are still able to opt-out.” She then added that comprehensive sex education is “the only way to combat heterosexism and gender conformity.”
“Gender identity expression and sexual orientation are a spectrum,” she explained, and said that those opposed to homosexuality “are stuck in a binary box that religion and family create.”
- Later in 2011, with a $1,500 grant from the California Teachers Association, a group called Gender Spectrum presented some rather interesting lessons over two days to the entire school of 350 students. The specifics were reported by Fox News, which was invited to sit in on the lessons.
Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, taught the classes. In the kindergarten class he asked the 5- and 6-year-olds to identify if a toy was a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” or both. He also asked which students liked the color pink, prompting many to raise their hands, to which he responded that boys can like pink, too.
In the fourth-grade class, Baum focused on specific animal species, like sea horses, where the males can have or take care of the children. He suggested that even if someone was born with male “private parts” but identified more with being a girl, that was something to be “accepted” and “respected.”
Students in the class were given cards, which included information on all-girl geckos and transgender clownfish, to illustrate the variations in nature that occur in humans, too.
“Gender identity is one’s own sense of themselves. Do they know themselves to be a girl? Do they know themselves to be a boy? Do they know themselves to be a combination?” Baum said. “Gender identity is a spectrum where people can be girls, feel like girls, they feel like boys, they feel like both, or they can feel like neither.”
The question here becomes why are elementary school children being exposed to sexual concepts and anomalies that they are totally incapable of understanding and are frequently very frightening and confusing to them?
- That same year Californians were subjected to the “FAIR Act,” also known as the LGBT History Bill, a law
which compels the inclusion of the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into educational textbooks and the social studies curricula in California public schools by amending the California Education Code.
And this year a “transgender rights” bill was ushered in, supported by the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers. Passed into law in August, the essence of AB 1266 – the “bathroom bill” – can be summed up in its final 37 words:
A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.
The law, written by San Francisco assemblyman Tom Ammiano, is being touted as necessary to protect the civil rights of students who have sexual identity issues. But there already are laws on the books to protect them. Instead, as political strategist Frank Schubert points out, the law is intended to
advance an adult political agenda by special interests who wish to use our public schools as a tool to strip gender and gender differences from societal norms. In the process, the privacy and security interests of all students, including those who are transgendered, are compromised.
Schubert then goes on to point out what is specifically wrong with the law:
One Size Fits All. The bill mandates a “one size fits all” approach, failing to provide educators with flexibility to choose less-invasive solutions, such as giving transgendered students access to private or faculty facilities, or customizing approaches that meet the unique needs of a transgendered student. As a result, many transgendered students may find themselves stigmatized by AB 1266, unable to avail themselves of solutions designed to meet the needs of the specific student and instead forced into a “one size fits all” approach. For example, some school districts currently give transgendered students the option of choosing a single stall bathroom for increased privacy. AB 1266 is so poorly drafted that it may eliminate this option.
Lacks Safeguards. Some California school districts have existing rules that give transgendered students the ability to use bathroom and locker room facilities consistent with their so-called gender identity, but those jurisdictions have at least adopted some minimal standards to guard against abuse. For example, in order to claim a gender identity that differs from their biologic sex, a student in San Francisco must have presented a gender identity “exclusively and consistently at school.” AB 1266 contains no such requirement, allowing any student to assert a gender identity at school at any time.
No Parental Involvement. AB 1266 also fails to provide a role for parents in determining a course of action for a student. Some students may be suffering from gender confusion, wherein a teen is genuinely confused about the strong feelings they have identifying with the gender opposite of how they were born. Involving the child’s parents in fashioning a course of conduct for that student could be critical to his or her ultimate well-being, yet AB 1266 contains no provisions for parental involvement.
Lacks Balance. AB 1266 fails to include any provisions that seek to balance the interests of a transgendered student with the rights of all other students. This is especially important in the critical area of personal privacy. Current policies in some districts provide for “accommodation and the needs and privacy concerns of all students involved.” AB 1266 fails to provide any balance or reasonable accommodation in its approach.
Perhaps the least reported facet of this contentious law is just how many children would be affected by it. An advocacy group, The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that “between ¼ and 1% of the population is transsexual.” The Williams Institute, which is “dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy” claims that there are 700,000 transgender individuals in the US.
That comes down to .233 percent of the total population. Therefore, in a school of 600, one or two students may be classified as sexually conflicted. So does it really make sense to run a major social experiment on 598 or 599 kids for the possible benefit of one or two?
Of course not.
To be sure, there are children who have genetic conflicts and their needs should be addressed, but the new law is not doing them or anyone else any favors. It’s about in-your-face, forced acceptance of an envelope-stretching political agenda that many of us don’t want. Instead of a sweeping law to help the afflicted few, how about a simple decision to let those who have “gender identity” issues use separate unisex bathrooms and private changing areas if they are not comfortable using the facilities that comport with the body parts they were born with?
Additionally, because the law is so poorly written, it will undoubtedly be gamed by some teenage boys who will have figured out how to get a free trip into the girls’ bathroom, not to mention showers.
Perhaps this potentially toxic legislation would have been better written for adults – same law, but require that it applies to the legislators and teachers’ organizations that made this abomination a reality. Not a chance of that happening; the adults wouldn’t stand for it.
Where to go from here?
There is a group that is fighting back. “Privacy for All Students” is an ad hoc coalition of parents, students and faith groups, established for the sole purpose of getting an initiative on the ballot to repeal the new law. “Privacy for All Students” has until November 12th to submit the signatures of approximately 505,000 voters to qualify the referendum. If enough signatures are submitted to elections officials, the law will be suspended and won’t take effect, as planned, on January 1st. Instead, the proposition would appear on the November 2014 statewide ballot.
Interestingly, the due date for the signatures is eight days before the Transgender Day of Remembrance” – a holiday that is acknowledged in schools across California. Perhaps it’s time to consider a “Children’s Day,” one that celebrates the right of all children to have their privacy and dignity respected.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.