- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Conservatives are exposing gender identity instruction to small children in public schools, escalating a feud with education experts who accuse them of insensitivity.

Popular Twitter account Libs of TikTok tweeted a video Tuesday of an unidentified nonbinary preschool teacher who discussed reading a book to a 3-year-old student “who then questions his gender.”

One day earlier, Libs of Tik Tok posted a video of Colorado school board members silencing a mother as she read explicit pages from the LBGTQ book “Gender Queer” at an Adams 12 School District meeting on March 16.

“This is what you allow our kids to have access to. This is pornography, and this is grooming for pedophilia,” the unidentified mother says in the video after being told to stop reading.

Tammy L. Hughes, a school psychologist who teaches at Duquesne University, said conservative efforts to dox gender identity lessons could make schools less safe for LBGTQ children.

She pointed to a statement from the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists that says schools must respect students’ privacy in class discussions.

“The reason we should teach children about gender identity and the range of gender expressions is to ensure that the school climate does not itself disrupt student academic learning,” said Ms. Hughes, an APA fellow.

“By passively allowing, or actively promoting, discrimination, stigma, bullying and other negative experiences, schools can fail to deliver a safe environment where all students can benefit from instruction,” she said in an email.

Robert Heineman, a political science professor at Alfred University in New York, said the gender identity lessons have already divided children by bringing politics into education.

“Identity politics has seriously corroded this unifying framework with narrowly articulated goals and claims of pervasive ‘victimization,’” Mr. Heineman said in an email. 

Reports of K-3 gender identity lessons have poured in from California, Illinois and Maryland since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed the state’s Parental Rights in Education law in March.

The law, opposed by LBGTQ advocates, bans gender identity discussions that are not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” in K-3 education.

Fox News reported last week that the Chicago-area Evanston/Skokie School District 65 required sexual orientation and gender lessons for K-12 students, including projects for preschoolers, as part of its “LGBTQ+ Equity Week” in April.

The Illinois school district told families in a message that students from preschool to eighth grade would “broaden their understanding of identity of self and others, allyship, family structures, vocabulary, gender expression, stereotypes, colors on the intersectional pride flag, and the historical contributions of LGBTQ+ people.”

Also in April, parents from California’s Glendale Unified School District published emails that showed third-grade teacher Tammy Tiber discussing with administrators how to teach sexuality to 8-year-old students over the objections of parents.

“Today I talked to my class about LGBTQ pride month and played [two] short videos from YouTube that were geared towards kids,” says Ms. Tiber’s email, obtained through a public records request.

She adds: “A parent who heard the lesson and discussion made her daughter leave Zoom and texted me asking me when I was done discussing sexual orientation so that she could let her kids back into Zoom. I was planning on doing more lessons tomorrow and Wednesday, but now I’m afraid to.”

The school district responds by telling her not to be “concerned or afraid” and thanking her for her “bravery.”

Maryland teachers are not obligated to tell parents whether their children begin changing genders at school. Parents in Montgomery County have filed a lawsuit to overturn a school board policy telling teachers to actively deceive them.

“There seems to be this view by the educational elites and Democrat politicians that when it comes to educating your children, they know best, and parents should not have a voice,” said Julie Giordano, a public high school teacher and mother who is running as a Republican for Wicomico County executive.

Chris Rufo, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has publicized some of the gender identity lessons, said a pandemic trend toward schools and teachers sharing all materials online has made conservatives more aware of them.

“The Left insists this isn’t happening, but we can see the entire curriculum in full color,” Mr. Rufo said in an email.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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