Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Stream on November 7, 2018.
One of the most liberal school systems in the country wants parents to know that boys and girls are built differently. Except when that truth is not politically convenient.
The Fairfax County (Virginia) School Board announced an upcoming workshop for parents. It’s called “Jack’s Brain, Jill’s Brain: Gender Differences and Why They Matter.” The workshop will feature child psychologists discussing how “girls and boys learn differently.” Apparently, “rapidly emerging research” shows that “the brains of females and males are developmentally, structurally and functionally different.”
But, do they really mean this? After all, this is the school board that voted to teach children that biological sex is meaningless.
A Seach-and-Destroy Mission
Last spring by a vote of 10-2, the nation’s 10th largest school system made a search-and-destroy mission through its 80 hours of Sex Ed (per student). Every reference to human beings having a “biological sex” of male or female was removed. Children are now taught that “sex is assigned at birth” and subject to change.
Parents and taxpayers in Fairfax County tried to stop them. When the proposal was open to public comment, over 1,000 comments came in and 83% opposed the change. But the school board had no interest in the views of parents and people who pay their salaries. Only in pushing their brand of sex politics on the children under their control.
No one is born a boy or girl. Some girls have penises. Don’t be a hater.
It’s impossible to square the curriculum changes with the upcoming parent workshop. The school board is either lying to the children or they’re lying to the parents.
Well, they’re lying to the children; but it’s even worse than that.
Psychological Child Abuse
Teaching children they might be born in the wrong body is psychological child abuse. That’s according to the American College of Pediatricians. It is not uncommon for children approaching puberty to experience a rise in anxiety. Thankfully, only a tiny fraction of them will become confused about their sex. Most will grow out of this confusion.
In fact, up to 98% of boys and 88% of girls will experience an end to their sex confusion after naturally passing through puberty. That’s according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition.
But what if a school system heaps “affirmation” on the child’s confusion? Will fewer boys come to accept their male bodies? Will more girls schedule mastectomies? How many more?
A recent peer-reviewed study by Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University explored the alarming trend of adolescents suddenly announcing they’re in the wrong body. Her research included the outsized role social pressure plays in this phenomenon.
In one case, a 12-year-old girl was bullied for going through puberty early. She told her parents that “she felt fat and hated her breasts,” having learned online that hating your breasts is a sign of being transgender. In another, a 14-year-old girl and her friends were taking lessons from a popular coach. When the coach came out as transgender, within a year all the girls in the group announced they were transgender too.
The “social contagion” aspect is reminiscent of anorexia nervosa, and there are other similarities. To the anorexic patient, losing weight is the solution to the problem, not part of the problem. The “drive to transition,” writes Littman, could be a “maladaptive coping mechanism” to “avoid feeling other strong or negative emotions.”
Fairfax County kids are now told that people can transition to a sex that matches their “gender identity.” And it’s all sunshine and roses. No warnings about what lies down this path.
Puberty-blockers are serious business. Puberty suppression and cross-sex hormones can stunt a child’s growth, impair memory, and render a person infertile for life. You cannot walk back up this road. What’s more, there are no scientific studies on the use of these drugs on children.
The next step is radical surgical removal of healthy organs, and pressure is mounting to allow this surgery at younger and younger ages. And then there are the tragic stories from the growing community of “de-transitioners” who regret what they have done to their bodies. Their lives do no fit the happy narrative.
Fairfax County has been awfully cavalier about a subject with such profound consequences.
After the school board voted that “biological sex is meaningless,” parents fighting the system said it felt like the board was conducting an experiment on other people’s children. Even The Washington Post referred to this and other areas of the country as “laboratories” for policy.
The Post, summarizing a quote from David Aponte, co-chair of the advocacy group GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) in Northern Virginia, said: “Northern Virginia and California have served as laboratories for policies regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.”
On the other hand, scrubbing male/female “biological sex” from lessons did bring the curriculum in line with the school board’s new code of conduct on transgenderism.
In 2015, the school board voted to open girls’ bathrooms, showers, and sports teams to biological boys, and vice versa. If biological sex has no meaning, boy bodies are no different than girl bodies, despite what your lying eyes tell you.
Science or Bigotry?
The Fairfax County transgender policy was hurried to a vote with only two weeks’ notice to the public. Why? On the basis that it was needed to counter harassment and discrimination. One savvy parent filed a Freedom of Information Act request. As it turns out, not a single discrimination complaint had been received by the school board.
But evidence doesn’t matter when you’re a leftist school board on a reckless crusade. The board refused to consider that imposing these sweeping changes in the name of non-discrimination could pave the way for discrimination against other students — like making playing fields un-level for girls, or taking away the private spaces biological girls need. If you’re a boy who wants to shower with the girls, just call yourself a trans-girl. In Fairfax County, girls no longer have the right to object.
The policy is currently implemented on a school-by-school basis, but transgender activists have never been satisfied to let principals work out the details.
In 2016, in consultation with a trans advocate, the school board drafted regulations to impose system-wide speech and conduct mandates. The mandates included the forced use of false pronouns and the creation of teacher “affirmation” teams to help students transition to another sex.
On the eve of the vote, the regulations were tabled. But judging from the rhetoric at recent school board meetings, they might return, and soon.
So, is biological sex meaningful? When a school-sponsored psychologist says so, it’s treated as science. But when parents make the same point before the school board, it’s treated as rank bigotry.
In Fairfax County, where they love to play sex politics, it just depends on whom you ask.