Military service is a family affair, with military spouses and children sharing in the sacrifices associated with deployment and service in general. In recognition of this fact, in 1986, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) designated April to be the Month of the Military Child. The DoD suggests 50 ways schools can honor military children, including special recognition, school assemblies, and the like.
The Month of the Military Child is an excellent time to take a closer look at the education being provided to the children of our nation's heroes. Many military children attend public or private schools or are homeschooled. But for those who do not have access to a traditional public school, the DoD provides its own schools through the agency Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). According to the DoDEA website:
"DoDEA is globally positioned, operating 160 accredited schools in 8 districts located in 11 foreign countries, 7 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA employs approximately 15,000 employees who serve more than 69,688 children of active duty military and DoD civilian families. DoDEA is committed to ensuring that all school-aged children of military families are provided a world-class education that prepares them for postsecondary education and/or career success and to be leading contributors in their communities as well as in our 21st century globalized society."
How do the 160 DoDEA schools respond to the progressive pressures exerted on traditional public schools? Are the children of the heroes who serve our country learning that the United States is a country worth serving? What kind of training do teachers in the DoDEA system get? How do those school officials view parents and parental rights?
The answers to these questions are disturbing. Even a cursory overview of the DoDEA website shows it to be much like any progressive school district in the United States. Meaning, Left-leaning ideologies are impacting children through the nation's military schools.
Amy Haywood, a concerned parent and military spouse, has written about this problem. According to Haywood, progressive curricula and school policies aren't just bad for children's well-being and academic excellence, but their parents' military readiness as well. "They are also undermining morale and military readiness as challenges at home can distract service members from the military mission."
Ideological efforts like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in traditional public schools are given a military spin through DoDEA, which calls its program Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI). Even five years ago, before many public school parents were aware of this ideological influence in K-12 environments, DoDEA was promoting divisive critical race theory (CRT) and queer theory content to military children and teachers.
It is chilling to think that the children of our nation's military personnel would be subjected to anti-American propaganda at schools paid for by the DoD. There are many examples of CRT programs at military academies. However, ideologues will not be content with molding the minds of college-aged students. This kind of material is also promoted to soldiers' dependents in K-12 settings.
The DoDEA website offers links to material from the highly partisan and Left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center and materials encouraging the celebration of Pride Month. A 2021 Equity and Access Summit hosted on the DoDEA website relied on SPLC resources and provided a very disturbing look into the attitudes and agenda of some of the staff responsible for educating the children of military personnel. In one exchange, during a seminar called "Ally 101: How to be an ally for LGTBQ+ students," educators described the care that is taken to protect the identity of a transgender-identifying student who is "out" at school but not at home.
A panelist in the seminar, Genevieve Chavez, is a seventh-grade art and high school humanities teacher at David Glasgow Farragut (DGF) Middle/High School in Rota, Spain. She is also the teacher sponsor for the student-led Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club at Rota MHS. In her remarks, Ms. Chavez seemed to advise keeping parents serving as substitute teachers in the dark:
"You can ask, 'May I use this name with other teachers, including substitutes?'... If they circle yes, you might want to chat with the student about it because it might depend on the substitute. I know that our school in Rota, we are a very, very small community, and a lot of caregivers will substitute at the school. So, you know I have had a student who is not out at home in their gender identity but their mom substitutes at our school and so you know just kind of navigating those waters. Communication is just the biggest thing."
These glimpses into the established practices of educational professionals reveal just how endangered children are by "gender-affirming" policies and procedures. Parents are easily excluded from conversations around gender affirmative interventions in school because they are often not present in the building. But even when parents are physically present and offering services as part of the educational team, they can still be deceived about their own children being "affirmed" or "socially transitioned" at a DoDEA school.
Social transition often leads to medical interventions. It's not unusual for a child's "need" for medical interventions to be the first time parents are informed of the steps the school has taken to provide "gender affirmative care" for a student -- without the consent or knowledge of the parent.
The Department of Defense has set aside the month of April to honor the children of our nation's military personnel. Let's honor them by advocating for educational policy that isn't ideologically driven, doesn't shut out parents, and doesn't teach military kids to be ashamed of the country their family has sacrificed so much for.
We encourage parents to be engaged in their children's education, wherever they are enrolled. Report inappropriate materials at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find resources on how to run for school board at frcaction.org/schools. Read more about challenges facing families at frc.org/education.