Photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Progressives Seek to Impose Gender Ideology on Va. School Curricula


School board members in Fairfax County, Va., are poised to vote June 14 on whether to implement changes regarding gender identity issues in the Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum for the county’s middle schoolers and high schoolers. Recommended changes to the current curriculum include redefining biological sex; adding lesson plans about gender identity and transgender ideology from a overtly biased perspective; and, perhaps most crucially, removing parents’ ability to opt-out their children from FLE programs. While this radical agenda may currently be limited to progressive strongholds, it is representative of the direction our country is headed in: one in which ideology is guised as fact, and students are taught to accept a subjective understanding of gender and biology as objective truth.

Such ideological bias is readily apparent in the specific changes being considered by the Fairfax County board. One of the primary recommendations for all grades is the replacement of the term “biological sex” with the term “sex assigned at birth”. This altered wording communicates to children that sex can be re-assigned, implying that it is a malleable choice shaped according to our feelings, rather than an immutable biological reality.

Additionally, if the changes are approved, the concept of “individual identity” will be taught in middle school and high school curricula as being comprised of four parts: sex assigned at birth, gender identity (including transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation. In high school lessons, medical “transition” from one biological sex to another will also be presented as the only logical response to gender dysphoria, without any mention of the dangerous and life-altering nature of such a transition nor other suggestions for dealing with gender dysphoria as a teenager. Such progressive-bent curricula further encourages the notion that if children and teens don’t “feel” like their biological sex, they not only can but should alter their bodies to imitate the sex they identify with.

History suggests the Fairfax County School Board is likely to overwhelmingly support the changes. When similar gender identity issues were proposed in 2015, the board voted in favor of the curriculum changes 10-2. Multiple board members have asserted the need for the recent 2018 curriculum recommendations, and in January the curriculum advisory committee voted strongly in favor of redefining biological sex as “sex assigned at birth” 18-4.

Only a handful of board members voted against the proposed changes, and even fewer publicly spoke out against them. One former advisory committee member, Laura Hanford, dissented to the use of the term “sex assigned at birth” in school curricula, citing it as vague and unscientific, and during the January 11 curriculum advisory committee meeting, Hanford motioned to define a transgender individual in lesson plans as “an individual whose gender identity, how they think of themselves as a male or female, is different from the individual’s [biological] sex.” After the meeting, Hanford was dismissed from the committee and replaced by Daniel Press, one of the most vocal school board advocates for progressive transgender ideology.

“We should always be using the term sex assigned at birth rather than biological sex,” Press later stated in the March committee meeting. “Biological sex is a meaningless term.”

However, such views are more a reflection of ideology than scientific fact. For example, in a recent article from the Heritage Foundation, Senior Research Fellow Ryan Anderson pointed out the contradictory nature behind the idea that sex is merely “assigned at birth” as opposed to a biological reality:

On the one hand, transgender activists want the authority of science as they make metaphysical claims, saying that science reveals gender identity to be innate and unchanging. On the other hand, they deny that biology is destiny, insisting that people are free to be who they want to be… At the core of the ideology is the radical claim that feelings determine reality. From this idea come extreme demands for society to play along with subjective reality claims. Trans ideologues ignore contrary evidence and competing interests, they disparage alternative practices, and they aim to muffle skeptical voices and shut down any disagreement.

Despite the controversial nature of the curriculum changes, however, the Fairfax County board members are also aiming to “shut down any disagreement” by removing the right of parents to opt-out their children from FLE programs in schools. Although the movement to switch FLE programs to mandatory health classes did not go through in 2015, the proposal is among the recommendations up for a vote again on June 14.

For concerned parents and citizens, there are several actions that can be taken to express opposition to this imposition of biased progressive ideology into public school curricula. Until June 8, anyone can email comments on the curriculum recommendations report to the Fairfax County School Board ( Fairfax County residents are also able to share their opinion at the FCPS board meeting on June 14 before the board votes whether or not to implement the changes. But most importantly, individuals ought to investigate what is being taught to children and teens in their own county and anticipate annual curriculum changes in order to raise public opposition.

The implementation of such self-contradicting gender ideology into a public school system should bring the transgender question to the foreground of political debates nationwide. In the instance of school curricula, progressive gender ideology has the potential not only to influence policy, but also to directly shape the minds of all children and teens in the public school system, teaching them a biased worldview rooted in ideology rather than science and fundamental truths. Parents should be aware of these changes and work to ensure their rights as the primary educators of their children are not usurped by progressive elites bent on imposing their ideology on the rest of the country.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bridget Starrs

Bridget Starrs works for the American Principles Project.

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