It seems incredible, but there is actually a raging debate in this country over whether public schools can instruct young children that gender is purely a matter of one’s self- identification and not one’s biological makeup. In fact, the self-identify crowd actually goes further and posits that there is absolutely no higher virtue in choosing one over the other and, indeed, no enduring, valid distinction to be drawn between the two.
To be sure the controversy over gender identity is typically framed in terms of whether such an issue is within the province of parents or the “woke” school officials who have hijacked it. And whether state legislative enactments siding with parents go too far and end up stigmatizing and discriminating against transgenders. But while all are relevant issues, we dare not be distracted. What is in play is nothing less than planting the seeds of uncritical acceptance of gender self-identity at the expense of traditional normative notions of gender.
Nor is the targeting of the young limited to the schools. Most readers are aware that the Disney Co. has waded into the battle with its public opposition to a Florida bill banning the teaching of gender-related issues to kids younger than third grade age.
According to syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro, top Disney officials have vowed to inject their LGBTQ agenda into their programming for children. A Disney producer said they already push a “not at-all-secret gay agenda and will now enhance the inclusion of this type of content.”
Disney’s corporate president announced that she was the mother of “one transgender child and one pan-sexual child” and that she would try to achieve a balance whereby half of all Disney characters would be LGBTQ people or people of color. Another senior official said the Disney theme parks would be eliminating any mention of “ladies and gentlemen” or “boys and girls.”
Parenthetically, the Florida law was one of several similar enactments the media and opponents mislabeled as “don’t say gay” measures, asserting that they were all about targeting LGBTs. Even though the Florida law’s formal title is “The Parental Rights in Education Law” and bans classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade. It does not bar all discussions and does not even mention the word “gay” or “LGBT.”
It specifically requires school districts to adopt procedures that “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner.”
Moreover, given the psychological dimension central to the issue, the law also requires that school districts to notify a student’s parent if there is a change “in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being….” Similarly, it requires school districts to notify parents of each health care service offered at their children’s school and the option to withhold consent or decline any specific service.
Potentially most important, the Florida law requires a school to get parental permission before administering a well-being questionnaire or health screening to students in kindergarten through third grade.
And this bottom-to-top approach says nothing about the kindred targeting of adults. Thus the Washington Examiner reports that the Biden administration is expected to shortly release a new rule that would give practical effect to radical gender ideology. The rule would be issued pursuant to the Affordable Care Act provisions which prohibit sex discrimination in health programs and activities funded by the federal government.
Health care providers that accept federal Medicare and Medicaid funding would be barred from engaging in “gender identity discrimination” which would translate requiring doctors and other medical professionals to perform irreversible gender transition surgeries, provide chemically-altering hormone treatment – and force insurance plans to provide coverage.
We are in the midst of a sophisticated, full-court press to denude the very notion of gender of any meaning. One just has to consider the case of the biologically male transgender swimmer who has opted to compete in womens’ swim meets to provide the proper perspective. Those successes have been as would be expected, uniformly spectacular. But he is also increasingly being viewed as a forerunner of the end of womens’ sports.
We are not in a good place on this issue and things will not get any better unless the stranglehold of the “wokeism” of the hard left that is driving much of our public affairs is broken. The passage of the several state laws regulating school sex education curricula and push back on bail reform and defunding the police, suggest help may be on the way. Hopefully things are not already too far out of hand.