Teacher: Honest conversations needed about gender ideology in our schools

An Ontario teacher describes how gender ideology is impacting the instruction of topics such as puberty and how school policies have been adopted which favour students who accept a transgender gender identity while dehumanizing all students and ignoring biological reality. She has asked to remain anonymous.

To My Principal:

Thank you for being a leader who is always kind and supportive. You have created a safe and caring environment and I deeply value your contribution to our school. I particularly appreciate your concept of creating “brave spaces” where you encourage people to share their honest thoughts and concerns with one another. I recently sent you a message saying that I was concerned about where Canadian culture is going with gender identity, and the impact of these ideas on children in our schools. 

Environment of Silencing

It is difficult to talk about this because the social pressure to appear accepting of gender ideology is intense. Whenever someone raises concerns, they are immediately called a bigot and a transphobe. I have let this fear of judgement silence me for too long. It has taken me several years to form these thoughts and I voice them now with sincerity and also some fear.

Cognitive Dissonance

An Ottawa family’s case centres on a child’s cognitive dissonance after a series of lessons on gender theory destabilized her sense of reality. Her teacher showed videos from Queer Kids Stuff to teach her grade one class that sex is a spectrum rather than a binary of boys and girls. The children were told that “girls and boys are not real”. The child came home from school and said, “My teacher said that girls are not real, but I am real, aren’t I mommy?” This wasn’t the end of her dismay. In fact, the parents consulted a psychologist so they could answer their daughter’s ongoing questions about what was real and what was not. 

Her parents expressed concerns through the proper channels at the school level. After receiving unsatisfactory responses, they are bringing the case before a Human Rights Tribunal. This case shows that we should consider the harm done to all students when we teach the unscientific concept that feelings, rather than biology, determine the sex of a human being. This theory is confusing for children because it undermines what they know to be true about themselves and the world. 

Teachers Need Guidance

This past Spring, I was approached by a teacher who was planning a health unit on puberty. She consulted me because she wanted to be sensitive to children who have transgendered relatives, and so she was planning to use the terms “people with penises” instead of boys, and “people with vaginas” instead of girls. 

We had an interesting conversation about semantics, biological facts and our commitment to being sensitive teachers. I stated that our noble goal of being sensitive to people’s experiences should not undermine biology nor erase girls and boys. All females need to know about how to care for their bodies when they menstruate, even if they identify as boys. We talked about what it could look like to be both sensitive to gender-questioning children, and also teach this unit with a commitment to clear language and biological facts. 

Science and Language

In October, I attended an OK2BME workshop for educators. We were given suggestions about how to alter language in order to be sensitive to transgendered individuals. For example, instead of words like father, mother, boy, girl, husband and wife, we should use more generic words like parents, friends, partners and folks instead. Although I use all of these words in various contexts, I object to the idea that using a gendered word might be deemed offensive, as my kind-hearted colleague was led to believe when she was planning the puberty unit. Will the terms girl, boy, mother, father be considered transphobic in the near future? 

At the workshop we were also shown this slide of the Gender Unicorn which uses the term assigned at birth when referring to biological sex. The choice of the word assigned connotes that there is something arbitrary and unjust about the scientific method of observing and categorizing matter based on physical characteristics. The notes under this slide state that “Biological sex is an ambiguous word that has no scale and no meaning…It is also harmful to trans people.” Clearly there is a disconnect between scientific fact and gender theory. This contrasting image of the Gender Scientist shows a science-based approach to sex and gender. 

The language used by gender theorists deliberately confuses people and undermines science. There is a growing list of words that we are being asked to replace with awkward and dehumanizing terms, such as, people who menstruate instead of women. It is ironic that the same people who oppose categorizing newborns by their genitals are pushing this biology-based nomenclature. Girls are being identified by the function of their organs, such as menstruators, lactators or uterus havers. These terms are dehumanizing. 

Recently, our school board announced a new initiative to end the stigma for students who ask staff for menstrual products. The Board communicated that it now offers free period products in the all-gender bathroom to students who menstruate. The word girl was never used in the communications or the posters announcing this information. This deliberate language choice, and the placement of free menstrual products in the all-gender bathroom rather than the girls’ bathroom, prioritizes gender ideology over the girls who need the products. 

What About Girls?

When writing public policies, it is the responsibility of leaders to make decisions that properly consider all people who will be affected. No doubt it is easier to pander to the loudest lobby group. Policies that remove the rights of one group and give them to another group are unethical. For example, Chicago School District 211 voted that a transgender person’s access to locker rooms is more important than a girl’s right to privacy. Julia Burca is a swimmer who stated that she does not feel comfortable being naked in front of males in the locker room. Her feelings are real as you can see in this clip which contrasts the emotional responses of the two students. Both of these students’ needs should have been considered in a manner that validates the privacy rights of female students.

Social Contagion

Canada is experiencing an explosion of the number of children being referred to gender clinics. We know that social contagion exists, and it is the reason why school boards issued warnings and guidance about Thirteen Reasons Why, a series about a teenager’s suicide. Is it possible that social contagion is the reason why so many children are now questioning their biological sex? We are just beginning to understand the influence of powerful social media platforms and how ideas catch on in that environment. 

The chart below shows the rapid increase in youth on puberty blockers at 10 gender clinics across Canada. As you can see, the numbers are skyrocketing, which is a cause for concern. How many of these children are truly gender dysphoric? How best can we help these children without harming the others? How much of this social phenomenon is related to social pressure to find an “identity?”

A growing number of medical doctors, gender counsellors and transgendered people are now voicing concerns about the practice of allowing children to make these decisions before they are old enough to comprehend that social transition often leads to a medicalized future. The fact that the combination of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones sterilizes young people is an alarming fact. For all of these reasons, it makes sense for public policy to support waiting until adulthood to make such weighty decisions. Studies show that the majority of children grow comfortable with their own bodies with time. 

Numbers of youth referred to 10 gender clinics in Canada
Gender clinic data for Canadian clinics participating in puberty blocker study

Source:Trans Youth Can

We live in tumultuous times. Earlier in this school year, you gave us a lovely metaphor about being the mother elephants who form a circle of protection around the baby elephants. That image expresses what I am trying to do in writing this letter. We act as mother elephants when we respond with both kindness and truth to provide the guidance and support that is needed. Thank you for being the kind of leader who creates brave spaces for honest conversations such as these to happen.

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