Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow for Legal Studies and Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Stream on October 30, 2019.
I live in Fairfax County, which is the 10th largest public-school district in the nation.
But I never focused on our public schools. My kids go to Catholic schools, and that was the center of our universe. I never focused, that is, until I heard that the Fairfax County School Board voted to let boys into the girls’ bathrooms.
The vote was 10-1. Was there only one sane person on the Fairfax County School Board?
I had to find out.
So, I began attending school board meetings.
And there I saw moms and dads begging the school board to stop threatening their child’s privacy and safety in intimate spaces and on sports field. They plead with them to stop the pornographic reading assignments. They tearfully asked them to respect their family’s religious beliefs.
These were my neighbors, fighting to stop their school board from playing sex politics with their children.
This shouldn’t happen anywhere in America. I resolved that it wasn’t going to happen in my county, on my watch, without a fight.
How did Transgender Politics Get into Fairfax?
Most Fairfax parents don’t know that every year, beginning in 7th grade, their children will be taught lessons on Transgender Theory.
How did this happen?
It all started with a vote in 2015 to add “gender identity” to the Fairfax County school system’s non-discrimination policy.
You can watch the vote on YouTube. Hundreds of parents, filling the room, occasionally shouting, trying to be heard. You can see the board chair gavel them down and threaten to kick them out. You can see Ryan McElveen, the sponsor, scolding them, telling them they’re on the wrong side of history.
And you can see board member Elizabeth Schultz, the bravest woman I know, raise her hand alone, and vote No.
Trans Pressure Groups Target Public Schools
All across the country, pressure groups are getting transgender mandates into public schools by targeting their non-discrimination policies. Well-funded national groups like the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), Gender Spectrum, Southing Poverty Law Center, Advocates for Youth.
They claim students are being harassed and demand that the only way to make schools “safe” is to adopt the Total Transgender Agenda:
- Open all private spaces to the opposite sex
- Let boys compete as girls in sports
- Cancel free speech by forcing the use of false pronouns
- Teach children some people are born in the wrong body
The Fairfax County School Board rushed the transgender policy to a vote with no hearings, no impact study, no public engagement.
They claimed that trans-identified kids were being bullied, and that the non-discrimination policy must be changed right away.
A Freedom of Information Act request revealed there were no reports of harassment of trans-identified students. Not a single one.
It’s Not About Helping Kids, But Power and Politics
No one wants to see a child in distress, especially a child suffering from sex confusion. But solutions like dedicated private bathrooms, or strengthening anti-bullying policies, were shut down.
Because it’s not about bathrooms. It’s not about bullying.
It’s about forcing all children and families to change their behaviors, their speech, and ultimately their beliefs, to conform to the new government-mandated social orthodoxy.
It’s about power and politics.
Born in the Wrong Body
Transgender theory teaches that some people are born in the wrong body. That’s a horrifying message. For children, it must be a terrifying message.
And it’s a lie.
The role our bodies are designed to play in human reproduction reveals our sex. We either deposit genetic material or we receive it. There is no third option.
Every one of our 100 million nucleated cells carries a copy of our male or female sex chromosomes.
Trans theorists say you can have a girl brain in a boy body. That’s scientifically impossible. Male bodies have male brains.
Every Person is Born in Exactly the Right Body
The truth is: Every person is born in exactly the right body.
Teaching kids they can be born in the wrong body is psychological child abuse, according to the American College of Pediatricians.
Thankfully, only a tiny fraction of children will experience confusion about their sex. And up to 98% of those children will grow out of it after naturally passing through puberty, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Watchful Waiting” or “Affirmation and Transition”
When a child expresses confusion about his sex, how should the adults around him respond? There are two schools of thought: “Watchful Waiting” or “Affirmation and Transition.”
Watchful waiting acknowledges the child’s suffering but remembers that more than 9 in 10 children with sex confusion will grow out of it, naturally.
Transgender ideologues call this approach bigoted. They demand that adults “affirm” a child’s opposite-sex identity.
“Affirmation” requires that adults lie to children, telling them they really are the opposite sex, using opposite-sex names and pronouns, allowing (encouraging?) female dress and make-up for boys, cropped hair and “breast binders” for girls.
This is also known as “social transition.”
“Hormonal transition” involves monthly injections of “puberty blockers” for 10 year olds. Cross-sex hormones are given a few years later.
The final step is “surgical transition,” now known as “surgical affirmation.” This involves the surgical removal of healthy organs and the grafting of tissue to resemble opposite-sex reproductive organs.
All of this — every bit of it — is dangerous to children.
Puberty blockers for “sex transition” are an off-label use. They’ve never been tested or approved for this use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Adding cross-sex hormones can result in life-long sterility. And permanently stunted growth, bone fracture, and memory loss.
Bullying Parents Into Hurting Their Children
Activists in and out of the medical field push parents to affirm, affirm, affirm — because that’s what a “good” parent does, if you “love your child.”
Parents are pushed to get their kids on puberty blockers to “buy them time” to “explore their true identity.”
But consider: There is only one study that follows gender dysphoric children who were socially affirmed and then put on puberty blockers. The percentage of these children who ultimately embraced their true biology was exactly 0%.
Contrast that with the findings of the American Psychological Association that up to 98% of sex-confused children will embrace their physical biology after puberty.
Puberty blockers don’t “buy kids time” to choose their sex. They make the choice for them.
The Ultimate Trump Card is Suicide
The Trans bullies’ ultimate trump card is suicide.
Parents are told they must do affirm and transition their child, or they’ll lose their child to suicide. Better to have a trans-daughter than a dead son.
But there’s no evidence to support this claim. The only long-term follow-up study is from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, in 2011. The study found that the suicide rate among post-op trans-identified people remained at nearly 20 times higher than the suicide rate among non-trans identified people.
In other words, these poor people did everything the Trans Theorists would have them do, even to the point of surgically mutilating their bodies. And they are still killing themselves.
Sex change does not prevent suicide.
The Erasure of Women
If men are allowed to identify as women, “woman” has no meaning.
Radical Feminists call it the “erasure of women,” and they’re right.
Trans activists demand that males have access to women’s private spaces. Not only bathrooms, but dressing rooms, lockers, and showers. If women or girls are anxious about sharing intimate spaces with males, what recourse do they have? To object is to be labeled a bigot.
Will trans policies be exploited by male predators? Of course they will. They already have been.
What About Women’s Sports?
Transgender theory is in the process of killing sports for half of the human race.
A male named Rachel McKinnon steals gold medals in women’s cycling competitions. If you say that’s not fair, he calls you a “transphobic bigot.”
Hannah Mouncey is a 6’3’’ 220lb giant who plays women’s rugby, and breaks women’s legs in the process.
Last year a male mixed martial arts fighter fought a woman and broke her skull.
Fairfax Doesn’t Teach “Male” and “Female” Biological Sex Anymore
Fairfax County public schools don’t use the term Sex Ed anymore. They call it “Family Life.”
And beginning last year, they stopped using the terms “male” or “female” in the context of biological sex.
Last spring the School Board voted 10-2 to remove the concept of biological sex and replace it with the term “sex assigned at birth.”
“Sex assigned at birth” is a term pushed by Trans pressure groups to support their agenda. You’re not born male or female. Someone assigns a sex to you. You can change it later.
But students aren’t given any information about the possible health risks and permanent effects involved in hormonal and surgical sex transition. The School Board’s curriculum drafters voted 12 times to exclude that information.
The transgender lobby group, GLSEN, celebrated the change. The group told the Washington Post that Northern Virginia public schools are used as “laboratories” for their transgender policies.
What does that make students in system? It makes them lab rats.
Daily Sex Pills for Kids
Another new Sex Ed lesson voted in by the School Board last year involves a daily sex pill known as PrEP.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is designed for a particular high-risk population: gay men with multiple sex partners of unknown HIV status.
It’s a controversial drug even in the gay community. Even with a 10% failure rate, it lowers the risk of infection enough to encourage some to abandon the use of condoms.
Michael Weinstein, founder and director of the AIDs Healthcare Foundation, said: PrEP “will cause a ‘public health catastrophe’ by triggering a dangerous increase in risky sex.”
And yet, the Fairfax County School Board voted 10-2 to promote it to students every year, beginning in 9th grade. Even when the drug was not approved by the FDA for their use.
80 Hours of Sex Ed?
The Fairfax County School Board automatically enrolls every child in 80 hours of sex ed without their parents’ permission.
Think of the mischief that can be done in 80 hours. Think of all of the real education that’s not being done in those hours!
Here are some examples:
- 6th grade lessons talk of “sexual partners”
- 7th graders get a lesson with 11 references to “oral sex”
- Beginning in 7th grade, students are taught their sex was assigned at birth, and taught about transgenderism as a healthy sexual identity (this lesson repeats every year)
- 8th graders get a lesson with 22 references to “anal sex” and 20 references to “oral sex”
- Check out this fake abstinence message for 8th graders: What are the benefits of abstaining from sexual activity “until in a faithful, monogamous relationship?”
- 10th graders get lessons promoting abortion, and getting an abortion without telling their parentsIn another anti-abstinence message, for 10th graders, students are asked to consider abstaining from sexual activity “until in a mutually monogamous relationship”
- By 11th grade, it’s about choice: “individuals who choose to be sexually active”
- 12th graders are told that whether “to be sexually active is a very personal decision”
None of This is Required by Law
What may come as a surprise is that none of this is required by law.
No federal or state law requires Virginia schools to amend their non-discrimination policies to include transgender identity. Fairfax County did it because they wanted to. And because they could.
Neither is Sex Education required. The Commonwealth of Virginia leaves it to each school district whether or not to teach it.
If a school district does decide to teach it, the Commonwealth gives broad guidelines that should be followed, including teaching abstinence before marriage. But the guidelines are a floor, not a ceiling. Even if Fairfax County can be said to meet the basic guidelines, they’ve gone far, far beyond them.
Opting Out is Not Obvious or Easy
Currently in Fairfax County, opting your child out of Sex Ed is not obvious, or easy. Both because of the sheer volume of material and because of the limited and sometimes deceptive lesson descriptions offered to parents — beginning with the name of the program itself.
How many parents really understand that declining to opt out of “family life” means their children will get transgender sexuality lessons every year? How many immigrant families, fifty-percent of the school population, learn what their kids are being taught in time to opt them out?
Even parents who discover the dangers of Fairfax-style Sex Ed in time to opt them out will find that their child is still getting sex-related lessons.
For several years the School Board has been shifting lessons out of FLE into other classes, like health or history. This may defeat the FLE-based opt-out given them by the School Board. But it certainly doesn’t defeat the fundamental constitutional right that parents have to direct the education of their children.
In Fairfax and elsewhere, parents can send a letter to their schools asserting their rights and clearly stating their non-consent to have their child participate in Sex Ed they find objectionable. It can convey their expectation that school officials will treat their child with dignity and respect. And it can give notice that they will pursue all legal and remedies available to them if their requests are not honored. Here is a sample letter.
The Philosophy of the Public School Becomes the Philosophy of the Culture
In most districts, school board members do not run on a party ticket. But most of them seek and get party endorsements, which reveal their political standing.
Today, Democrats hold an overwhelming majority of seats on the Fairfax County School Board: 10-2. In fact, Democrats have controlled the Fairfax County School Board for more than two decades.
The political complexion of the citizenry of Fairfax County bears no resemblance to the radical, lopsided, one-party rule of the Fairfax County School Board.
The practical implications of this are that, if you live in Fairfax County and dissent from hard-Left political ideology in your schools, you have no voice. Every year you send 53% of your property taxes to a school board that has no inclination to listen to your questions or concerns. They can ignore you, and they do.
And what happens in your public schools really matters, whether or not you have children in the system. Because, as Abraham Lincoln said: “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of the government in the next.”
The Fairfax County School Board is up for election on November 5.
If you care about the country, you have to care, first, about the school board.