I do not mean this to be a dig at Nebraska at all, but the Cornhusker State is not where I would have expected to see a big push toward gender inclusiveness. Then again, the Nebraska motto is “Equality before the law,” so maybe some fine Nebraskans are confusing equality with insanity when it comes to this issue. On October 1 the Lincoln Journal Star ran an article entitled, “LPS staff’s transgender training concerns parents.” That story was picked up by Todd Starnes of Fox News, who published his thoughts on the subject on October 9. I have addressed the foolishness that is proliferating from the “gender inclusive” movement in this space before, so I will not rehash all of the previous points I have made. I will, however, provide you with a few examples of the idiocy that is infiltrating the public school system in Lincoln, Nebraska and will, no doubt, soon be making its way to a school system near you.
The Journal Star article’s lead paragraph states that Lincoln Public School leadership is addressing transgender issues with staff “so they can better help students.” The second paragraph is a quote from Brenda Leggiardo, the district’s coordinator of social workers and counselors: “The agenda we’re promoting is to help all kids succeed. We have kids who come to us with a whole variety of circumstances, and we need to equitably serve all kids.”
What does that look like, then? Well, apparently it includes not using the terms “boys” and “girls”. According to Rachel Terry, a parent with students in middle and high school in Lincoln and who intends to address to school board at their meeting on October 14, the school district’s personnel were given three handouts to assist them in “equitably serv[ing] all kids,” including one from GenderSpectrum.org entitled “12 easy steps on the way to gender inclusiveness.” Step one reads like this:
Avoid asking kids to line up as boys or girls or separating them by gender. Instead, use things like “odd and even birth date,” or “Which would you choose: skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.” Invite students to come up with choices themselves. Consider using tools like the “appointment schedule” to form pairs or groups. Always ask yourself, “Will this configuration create a gendered space?”
Having been in education for a number of years now, I can tell you that educators have far more important things to worry about than whether or not a configuration of students will create a gendered space. In fact, there would be many situations in which a gendered space would be entirely appropriate. The second step instructs teachers not to say things like “boys and girls,” “you guys” or “ladies and gentlemen” but to instead say things like “calling all readers,” “hey campers” or “could all of the athletes come here.” In other words, do not classify students by their gender, but feel free to classify them by their behaviors, talents or interests. And if that does not work, then create some goofy labels to use within the classroom such as the recommended “purple penguins” included on the handout.
Think that sounds crazy? It gets exponentially worse. Step 3 goes like this: “Provide an opportunity for every student to identify a preferred name or pronoun. At the beginning of the year or at Back- to-School Night, invite students and parents to let you know if they have a preferred name and/or pronoun by which they wish to be referred.” So not only do teachers in this scenario have to remember not to address students as boys and girls, they must also ask students what name and pronoun they would prefer and then remember those all year, too. And of course when we begin allowing people to choose whatever name or pronoun they want we eliminate any semblance of reality or fact. Instead, everything becomes based on whatever someone feels like or prefers at any given time. Oh, unless you feel like being in an academic environment wherein boys are boys, girls are girls and pronouns are the old stand-bys “he, she, him and her.” If that is what you prefer you’re just out of luck. And out of touch with what is politically correct these days, too.
Step 5 of the GenderSpectrum worksheet instructs teachers to avoid using references to gender but, if such references are unavoidable, to say “boy, girl, both or neither” and then, “when asked why, use this as a teachable moment.” Just for fun, try this next time you’re out to eat and placing your drink order. Tell your server you’d like “Coke, Pepsi, both or neither” and see what you get. Tell the fast food employee on the other end of the intercom at the drive-thru that you’d like “a hamburger, a chicken sandwich, both or neither.” When you see your doctor next time tell him that you seem to be having “trouble hearing, upset stomach, both or neither.” Better yet, when you go to the ballot box next month, try indicating that you’d like to vote for “candidate A, candidate B, both or neither.” See what they do with your ballot. These examples are ridiculous, of course, and that is because there are actual distinctions and it is not possible for it to be both things. Gender is no different, try as anyone may to change that. It matters not how someone feels or chooses to identify, their gender is their gender.
Now, that makes me intolerant and openly hostile, and I realize and accept that. I wear that label with pride, actually. Ryan Dobson wrote a book a few years ago entitled Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid. I could not have said it better myself. What it really comes down to, of course, is the relativism that those who promote this kind of gender inclusiveness want to see infiltrate every area of society. Indeed, number 10 on the GenderSpectrum sheet says, “Teach them phrases like ‘That may be true for some people, but not all people.'”
Feel free to look for the articles on this subject online–you will find plenty more to fuel your aggravation. But I’ll close with this gem from Todd Starnes: “While we’re on the subject, what’s a gender-neutral term for morons?”