Parents who send their kids to New York public schools have lots to worry about. Is he really learning? Is she really safe? And: Is the school gender-transitioning my child behind my back?
Earlier this week, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) published a “legal update and best practice” document for how schools should serve “transgender and gender expansive” students. The key takeaway: if your child decides that he or she wants to socially transition to the opposite gender, it is now a “best practice” for the school to lie to you about it.
“Only the student,” the NYSED declares, “knows whether it is safe to share their identity with a caregiver.” The baseline assumption, then, is that “unaffirming” parents are dangerous to their children. If Kevin wants to go by “Kimi” but doesn’t want his parents to know, the best practice, according to NYSED, is as follows: “The teachers call her Kimi and use she/her pronouns at school. When calling home for any reason, teachers use the name Kevin and he/him pronouns.”
Leading experts like Hilary Cass, a medical doctor who documented rampant malpractice in England’s Tavistock child gender clinic, have explained that social transition is not a neutral act but rather an active psychosocial and arguably even medical intervention. Finnish medical authorities have discouraged gender self-identification for children, recognizing its potential to disrupt healthy development and result in unnecessary medicalization. While activists believe that transition is beneficial to mental health, a new study in the U.K. finds no improvement for socially transitioned kids relative to control groups. Evidence suggests that treating children as if they are the opposite sex can cause their feelings of gender dysphoria to persist and increase the likelihood that they will seek experimental hormonal intervention.
If the NYSED has its way, schools will also effectively market experimental hormonal interventions. Its new policy recommends that all schools, at a minimum, adhere to the guidelines of the National Sex Education Standards, which state that children should learn about puberty blockers by fifth grade. It may be doubted whether schools would provide the full medical picture concerning the use of puberty blockers, including the lack of evidence for their benefits, the serious long-term side effects, and the near-certain progression to cross-sex hormones that can cause permanent sexual dysfunction and sterility.
The National Sex Education Standards also recommend introducing children to the concept of “gender identity” starting in kindergarten. As a next step, NYSED recommends that staff actively solicit sexual and gender information by “ask[ing] students which terms they use and generally us[ing] the term the student uses to describe themselves.” (This includes terms such as “agender,” which “refers to a person who does not identify with or experience any gender, [and] is different from nonbinary because many nonbinary people do experience gender.”) In New York, schools now apparently stand ready to tell five-year-olds that they might have been born in the wrong body, socially transition them behind their parents’ backs, and steer them toward experimental hormonal interventions.
Public polling suggests that NYSED’s policies on gender are massively unpopular. About 70 percent of registered voters oppose teaching students in elementary school about sexual orientation and gender identity, and 75 percent say that schools should be required to get parental consent before facilitating a gender transition.
But when it comes to public education, the will of parents matters far less than the whim of activist-captured bureaucrats. These widely unpopular “best practices” have been sent out to schools as a “legal update”—and school district administrators and principals will not unreasonably assume that the recommendations are required for legal compliance.
If parents don’t want this indoctrination going on in New York public schools, they must get organized and petition their local school boards. But they face two stiff headwinds. First, activist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have labeled positions on these issues held by the vast majority of the public as “hate,” so anyone openly advocating for them runs the risk of cancellation. Second, since school board members are voted for in off-cycle elections with extremely low turnout, they may feel little need to pay attention to parents’ preferences.
Still, if parents don’t push back, no one will.