Saturday, July 2, 2016

The wellbeing of children is secondary to ADF's religious mission

Marissa Mayer
ADF's Marissa Poulson is now Marissa Mayer. At ADF's blog she writes: “The Problem with Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Indoctrination in Public Schools” which causes an eye-roll before even getting to the text. When I read these polemics I am never quite certain if these people really believe this stuff or if they are simply appealing to an incurious constituency. In some sense, it is like dealing with the Tobacco Institute.

Our public schools are responsible for teaching children various subjects based upon the prevailing scientific or historical consensus. For example, we don't teach kids about Lord Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, his DC8 aircraft and his nuclear bombs on Teegeeack (now known as Earth) 75 million years ago. Nor do we teach children in public schools that the earth is 6,000 years old and that the Grand Canyon was created by the Great Flood which Noah survived with has animals, two by two. Xenu and Noah are religious beliefs of equal intellectual value in contrast to historical fact. As conservative Christian imposers, Alliance Defending Freedom would like to blur the line between fact and religious belief. That brings me back to Ms. Mayer.
In case you haven't heard, starting next year, students in Washington State will be expected to become gender fluent. No, I'm not talking about when a person says their gender changes between male and female at will (that's gender fluid don't you know); I'm talking about how students will now be instructed in the ever-changing language of gender, beginning as early as kindergarten.
Aside from misstating what gender-fluid means, Mayer should have employed some intellectual curiosity. The voluntary standard (subject to the local school board) for kindergarten is “Understand there are many ways to express gender.” Nathan Olson communications manager for the school superintendent, told ThinkProgress. “The conversation would be is it okay for a boy to wear pink? Is it okay for girls to play basketball? Those sorts of discussions get the kids thinking about, ‘What does gender mean? What does it mean that girls mainly wear pink?'” The same standard applies to first grade. I doubt that Mayer is really interested in the facts. She is content to believe various right wing sites shouting “Washington State To Teach Transgenderism To Kindergartners.” A piece at Snopes further explains why this is all bullshit.

Later on Mayer writes:
In a world where proselytization is a dirty word, it's surprising that activists would push it this far. After all, these are the same people who think the mere sight of a bible reference on public school grounds is worth a lawsuit, or even that religious schools shouldn't be allowed to teach about sexuality according to its religious texts. If that's the case, then in what world does it become okay to force children to accept that just because a five-year-old feels like the opposite sex means it must be true?
Let's be clear that religious instruction is constitutionally prohibited in public schools. There is that pesky establishment clause. ADF's objective is to push the envelope on what is, or is not, religious instruction. It is important to understand that the folks at ADF do not believe that anyone is transgender (an ideology confirmed by Mayer later on in her article). They believe that God's plan was binary, males and females. Rather than a variation of the palette, intersex people are believed, by them, to suffer a birth defect. It's all so neat and simple. It is religion, not science.

The truth is that gender dysphoria does exist. The brains of a very small percentage of the population tell them that their gender is at odds with their chromosomes and genitalia. There is no known intervention that resolves this inconsistency. Based upon a mountain of peer reviewed research, the wellbeing of these folks is best served if they express their gender as they believe it to be. It may change over time and that is what gender fluid is all about. It is certainly not whimsical and Mayer would have people believe.

Furthermore, with respect to children:
  1. Healthcare providers have developed methods of differentiating between “this is a phase” and gender dysphoria.
  2. The scientific consensus is that the earlier transgender people transition, the more successful and confident they will be in adulthood.
Therefore, children are more likely than in years past to have classmates who are transgender. As a society we have an obligation to ensure the safety and emotional wellbeing of those kids. ADF would have people believe that there is something sinister about education that includes an understanding of gender identity. It is perfectly understandable because conservative Christians believe that being transgender is an acquired behavior in their perfectly binary world.

Which brings me back to Mayer:
The male/female gender binary is well-established scientific fact. (Note: This does not include rare conditions where someone is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that is not limited to male or female, known as intersex.) But Washington appears to be foregoing that fact in favor of catering to an agenda that demands not only acceptance, but celebration and affirmation of their ideas.
The gender binary is not well-established scientific fact. Also, there's that “agenda” word again. It implies a political or ideological mission. It is a case of “turnspeak1” because it is ADF that has an ideological agenda. In some respects their literalism is just as silly as the Lord Xenu story because, while Xenu is the product of a then obscure science fiction writer trying to get rich, their story requires a slavish devotion to ancient chronicles of dubious authorship and provenance. What we should celebrate is that fact that a child is emotionally healthy enough and has the ego strengths to express their gender identity. It requires parental encouragement and courage to do so.

PBS/Frontline did an extraordinarily informative documentary called Growing Up Trans. It can be viewed online or via the PBS channel on Roku, Chromecast, Fire, etc.

Mayer continues with:
People who believe that they are not the sex or gender that they were born as are free to feel that way and believe it to be true. They deserve respect as human beings just like everyone else. But forcing one's ideology on others is a big no-no in our society.
Except that this is not an ideology. Scientific consensus is not an ideology. Science is often inconsistent with religious belief. It is that religious belief that is an ideology.
This is especially true when you consider the right of parents. Teaching a child ideology is not the job of the government or of special interest groups. In the U.S., parents have the responsibility and the privilege of raising their children the best way they see fit. If a parent has no interest in reciting LGBT activists' talking points to their 2nd grader, then they don't have to, and the state shouldn't get a say otherwise.
This has absolutely nothing to do with special interest groups. This has absolutely nothing to do with the talking points of LGBT activists. This is about the best interests of children based upon medical science. We are a secular society. However, we have to contend with Mayer:
Unfortunately, Washington's new guidelines just offer more evidence that sexual orientation and gender identity indoctrination is alive and well in this county. Take New York as another example. Peaceful New Yorkers face the threat of being fined big bucks if they don't call people by the pronouns or made-up words (no, "ze" and "hir" are not in the dictionary) that they prefer. This is forced, government-mandated speech at its most alarming and has no place in a free society.
You just knew that at some point Mayer would include gay people in the mix. We don't exist either. Their world is binary—attraction to the opposite sex. We are just people who indulge in sinful behavior. And, no, I won't take New York as an example because she offering something that is completely out of context. More “turnspeak” about what has “no place in a free society.”
The government has no business forcing its agenda and ideology on children. Just as it shouldn't be forcing these same students to share locker rooms, showers, and other private spaces with members of the opposite sex. Enough is enough.

Share this post on social media and keep your family and friends informed about bad policies that are affecting your children and grandchildren.
Repeating the lie that sound educational practice is an “agenda” or “ideology” doesn't make it truthful. Professional educators are interested in the wellbeing of all students. And while the religious literalism never changes, for obvious reasons, if the science changes then the education will change along with it because it is neither an agenda nor an ideology. “Share this post on social media and keep your family and friends informed” about efforts to conform education to religious beliefs.

What I find most appalling about all of this is the lack of good faith. Educators are not trying to screw up kids or cause problems with parents. If they have an agenda it is the best interests of students; first, last and always.

1 Turnspeak is a form of propaganda through cognitive dissonance. It is an attack on an adversary accusing them of doing what the attacker does. It creates confusion that is difficult to counter. We are seeing more and more of this. There is, for example, the frequent accusation that nondiscrimination laws discriminate against Christians because they cannot discriminate against LGBT people.

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