The Patriot Post® · Twisting the Minds of Vulnerable Schoolchildren
If you like progressive arrogance mixed with complete contempt for parental rights, it’s hard to top guidance drafted by Michigan’s State Board of Education. Last month, State Superintendent Brian Whiston issued a memorandum with the subject heading “Presentation on State Board of Education Statement and Guidance on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students.” The agenda behind it is clear: Michigan schools will be expected to allow all students to self-identify with regard to their gender, and all school officials will be expected to abide whatever permutations arise from that identification.
Yet it gets even worse. “The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the memo states. “Outside confirmation from medical or mental health professionals, or documentation of legal changes, is not needed.”
In other words, it doesn’t matter what the child’s biological sex is, or whether he or she is in the midst of a temporary identity crisis and/or getting professional help from a medical doctor or a psychiatrist. The memo defines gender identity as “a person’s deeply held internal sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the biological sex they were assigned at birth.” Yet even the definition of biological sex is a hedge, with the memo stating that it is a “combination of bodily characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, internal and external genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics,” before adding that when infants are born they are “assigned a sex, usually male or female, based solely on the appearance of their external anatomy.” (emphasis added)
What about parents? The complete usurpation of their rights to know about what goes on between their child and the child’s teacher and other school officials is made clear. The memo advises, “Transgender and GNC [gender nonconforming] students have the right to decide when, with whom, and to what extent to share private information.”
Furthermore, outright deception of parents is seemingly okay as well. While school officials are advised they “should address students by their chosen name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, regardless of whether there has been a legal name change,” the Board makes it clear that when those same officials contact a transgender or GNC student’s parent or guardian “school staff should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s assigned sex at birth, unless the student or parent/guardian has specified otherwise.”
Schools are also expected to cater to this agenda with regard to the educational experience as well. Thus they are urged to include “relevant and age appropriate content throughout the curriculum, in areas such as social studies, English language arts, creative arts, and health education, including sex education,” stock school libraries with “a selection of high-interest LGBTQ books and media” make sure computer-filtering software “does not inhibit age-appropriate access to medical and social information,” and review computer-filtering protocols “to ensure that students and other school community members can access information related to LGBTQ youth, local and national resources, and LGBTQ health information.”
Schools are also encouraged to “analyze available attendance, suspension, expulsion, bullying, student risk behavior, and school climate data to promote practices that improve LGBTQ students’ attendance and participation in school.” This is based on the idea that LGBTQ children experience greater levels of harassment and bullying. But the bigger picture is the ability to force-feed this agenda to recalcitrant school officials based on the “disparate impact” provisions contained in Title IX. Under the disparate impact theory, Barack Obama’s Department of Justice regulations are violated if a neutral policy adversely affects protected individuals, irrespective of intention. The DOJ is currently using that policy to implement race-based discipline policies that essentially require schools to mete out punishment on a racially equal basis, even if one group misbehaves more than another.
In this case it means government retains the ability to punish conservative school districts that resist this agenda and base their educational models on traditional understandings of sexual identity based on biological gender. Thus if parents or school officials prove resistant to the other proposals contained in the memo, such as students being able to choose which locker rooms or changing facilities they wish to use, which phys-ed classes, intramural or inter-scholastic sports in which they wish to participate, or what clothes they choose to wear to school — all based solely on self-identification — governmental charges of discrimination or harassment become distinct possibilities.
Make that reality, albeit on a smaller scale. Responding to a lawsuit filed by the parents of a transgender student, the Obama administration demanded the male student self-identifying as a female be allowed to use the girls’ locker room to shower and change clothes at Township High School District 211 in Illinois. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights concluded the school had discriminated against the student “on the basis of sex.”
Faced with additional litigation and the possible loss of millions of dollars in federal funding, the school caved, allowing the student access to the girls’ locker room, provided he change clothes behind “privacy curtains.” Never mind the girls he can see.
The Michigan memo is all about setting up the same potentially litigious scenario, urging districts to “evaluate all gender-based programs and practices and maintain only those that have a clear and sound educational purpose,” because a failure to do so “can have the unintentional consequence of marginalizing, stigmatizing, and excluding transgender and GNC students.”
“At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered,” writes Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”
McHugh is hardly an outlier. Johns Hopkins itself, despite being the first American facility to perform sex reassignment surgery beginning in the 1960s, no longer does the procedure. And the American College of Pediatricians thoroughly rejects the Left’s entire construct on the subject, adding the warning that “puberty is not a disease and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous.” In a saner society, “dangerous” would be the wrong term to describe this despicable procedure. The right term would be “child abuse.”
Tellingly, there is no mention of age in the Michigan memo. That’s because the sooner children can be indoctrinated by progressives and their twisted worldview, the better.
These guidelines were issued by Superintendent Whitson on Feb. 23. Public comment on the proposal ends on April 11, and the Board will convene on May 10 to finalize it. Between now and then, it might be a good idea if more than a few parents did a little “self-identifying” of their own.