The following comes from an Aug. 5 story on TheFederalist.com.
In the Washington DC area, back-to-school sales are underway and summer’s about done. Parents’ inboxes and mailboxes fill with newsy “Get ready for another great year!” letters and long shopping lists of supplies from the PTA. and school principal.
The families of Janney Elementary School, a highly rated DC elementary school in the affluent northwest quadrant of the city, recently received a different sort of back-to-school notice (provided to me by a confidential source). Janney’s principal, Norah Lycknell, announced in a July 17 email to the “Janney Community” that the school’s writing inclusion teacher, the former Mr. Robert Reuter, had declared himself transgender and would now be known as “Ms. Rebecca Reuter (Ms. Reuter to our students).” Principal Lycknell described end-of-year meetings in which Mr. Reuter (as he was known then) “bravely” shared his “powerful and personal story” and his plan to transition to a new gender identity.
The principal’s email informs parents that Teacher Reuter’s announcement gave rise to “wise wonderings,” and “months of thought and planning” in consultation with a “wide scope of educators, experts, and partners,” about how the school community should put its values of “equity,” “inclusion,” and “caring” into practice. “[A]ll children and adults in Janney’s community,” says Lycknell, need to know that “they will be embraced regardless of their subtle and explicit identities.”
Stripped of its emotional puffery, Lycknell’s email provides a case study of how LGBT activists are foisting ideological conformity on America’s school children, re-educating them in gender and sexuality according to queer theory. Current LGBT campaigns advocate—relentlessly and aggressively—on behalf of “transgender” individuals, portraying them as perfectly normal people whose gender identities just don’t happen to match their “assigned sex” at birth.
Lycknell’s ‘guidelines’ for parents line up with the Left’s orthodoxy. Point by point, they read like a sampler from an “Indoctrination 101” toolkit (officially, “The Welcoming Schools” Starter Kit, peddled to schools across the country by the Human Rights Campaign). And Lycknell demonstrates well how left-leaning, government-funded employees effectively impose LGBT “groupthink” on impressionable schoolchildren and their well-meaning parents, effectively silencing the opposing views of other parents, faith leaders, and the community at large.
Lycknell’s email insists early on that discussions about gender employ a precise vocabulary. In paragraphs headlined “The Language of Gender Transition” and “Conversations at Home,” she summarizes the Left’s gender propaganda. Two millennia of philosophical, scientific, and religious perspectives simply vanish in Lycknell’s dogmatic presentation of gender as a social construct and gender identity as a feeling-based reality disconnected from a person’s biological sex. Drawing heavily from the Human Rights Campaign’s “Welcoming Schools” project, Lycknell presents queer theory as fact, the sign of an “increasingly diverse and honest world.”
Gender theorists believe that, freed from the confining “gender binary” (male and female categories) of their “assigned” birth sex, transgender individuals can “affirm” their deeply felt authentic identities. Reuter, for example, can affirm her “real” identity through a range of transition options, from “social” (assuming opposite-sex name and appearance) to “medical” (taking opposite-sex hormones in order to affect secondary sex characteristics such hair growth, breast size, and voice pitch) to “surgical” (removing or adding breast tissue, genitalia, and an Adam’s apple).
Lycknell reminds parents of the goal—to help children “broadly recognize gender as a continuum with many ways to express oneself as a person.” (How is it that Reuter’s decision to transition gives the public school the right—with taxpayer funds—to impose its preferred viewpoint, that physical sex and gender identity have no intrinsic connection and that “male and female” are junk categories to be replaced by the “gender spectrum”?) Giving children the Left’s “language of sex and gender,” says Lycknell, is “empowering” for them and provides “meaning and context” for schoolwide discussions. Lycknell’s email “strongly recommend[s]” that parents begin now to discuss sex, gender, and gender transitions with their children, to provide “space and time” for them “to safely process what may be a previously unknown way of considering the gradients between sex and gender.” (“Previously unknown” means “newly-invented,” by the way.)
Most parents, even in liberal-leaning upper northwest DC, are probably not well-versed in queer theory. So Lycknell encourages parents to “be comfortable with not knowing…the answer to every question” and to “be transparent about the things you do not yet know, for true inclusion is often about curiosity—being comfortable with seeking answers about the unknown.” Put differently, parents who think they’ve got gender and sexuality figured out, perhaps according to a religious perspective or simple common sense, risk outing themselves as opponents of “true inclusion.” Lycknell advises parents who embrace the “unknown” to “grow your own understanding and…explore the resources provided” in her email. In other words, she’s got the answers for you. The resource list included in Lycknell’s email includes videos and books for adults, children, and teens—all completely one-sided, a string of progressive, LGBT links and resources that admit no alternative points of view.
Lycknell even encourages parents to “rehearse” and “consider scripting” what they tell their children, avoiding the “temptation to introduce history or perceptions that are not yet part of our children’s wonderings.” No surprise here—her email functions as a ready script, with “key terms” defined according to the Left’s dictionary, with no mention of contradictory “history” or “perceptions.”
After dictating the language of the “dialogue,” and scripting parents to follow her lead, Lycknell’s letter gives the specifics of how Reuter’s “transition” will be handled at school, where students range from four to eleven years of age (pre-K through fifth grade). The school will proactively “reintroduce” Reuter to her current (third grade) and past (fifth grade) students, and use a less formal process to address other students’ questions. “In all settings,” according to Lycknell, “our approach will be similar to the one suggested for conversations at home, focusing on an individual’s story, the language of sex and gender, and an environment that welcomes questions, adjusted to the developmental stages of our students.”
The ever-helpful Lycknell tells parents she is “more than happy” to connect families to the gender identity “experts” that the school has brought on board. These experts, she reassures parents, “are ready to address any question without judgment.”
But the deck is stacked against Janney parents or staff who might be looking for unbiased, sensible advice or for guidance that respects Judeo-Christian moral traditions. Lycknell omits from her email some particularly salient information: she and the recommended experts are personally and professionally invested in LGBT causes. Lycknell is a lesbian who “married” her partner in a Canadian ceremony in 2008. Her designated experts include Khadijah Tribble, a lesbian activist, Diana Bruce, a “Shero of the Movement” award winner (given to DC “lesbian, bisexual and transgender women” who advance the LGBT cause), and a social worker, Michael A. Giordano, who self-identifies as “a cisgender, kink and poly aware therapist” with an interest in “leather.”
Giordano, a gender identity specialist, deserves special mention. Parents ought to know he thinks that, “Queer is, indeed, the new Cool.” He also believes morality is “subjective” and that folks who are “transgender, bisexual, lesbian, or gay or others trying to accept their interest in polyamory or BDSM [kinky sex] and other kinks” are “good, moral people.” In fact, “their gender identity, sexual orientation, patterns of love, or sexual desires have nothing to do with morality. They just ‘are.’”
It’s true Giordano is a recognized expert—he’s scheduled to speak at next week’s Sexual Freedom Summit, a national event that promotes “sexual freedom” as “one of the highest human aspirations and the foundation of all human rights, the cornerstone for all our civil liberties…[a] source and prerequisite for much, if not all, that motivates human beings.” (The Summit’s sponsors include the usual lefty heavyweights: the International Planned Parenthood Federation and leading LGBT and sexuality organizations.)
A post on Giardano’s blog offers his take on gender identity—and a glimpse of the ideology flourishing at Janney Elementary. Giordano writes:
So what is a real man?…If you identify as a man—you are a man. Men look and act in many different ways and experience all the range of emotions. They have all kinds of hobbies, from sewing to hockey. Some have penises. Some don’t. Some have always been seen by others as men. Others used to live life as girls. My proposal is that we accept this and move on.
This, in effect, is what Janney Elementary is saying to parents: Get with the program, fundamental transformation in process….
To read the entire posting, click here.