APC in the Media
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Gender Politics Don’t Belong in the Classroom,
But Title IX Protections Do
By Maria Keffler
On February 25, a friend and Arlington Public Schools (APS) parent alerted me about a working meeting on developing a Transgender/Gender-Nonconforming Students Policy Implementation Procedure (PIP) that evening. She stumbled on the APS website notice while searching for something unrelated. We attended as non-participating observers and were stunned.
At that meeting, an Arlington Gender Identity Allies advocate lamented that a planned reading of I Am Jazz, a storybook about a boy who decides to medically become a girl, had been scuttled at Patrick Henry Elementary School due to concerns over parents’ reactions. The speaker vowed that the event would happen.
Three days later, Ashlawn Elementary hosted a transgender activist who read the book to five-year-olds, introducing the idea that “anyone can be anything,” as one kindergartener who absorbed the lesson summarized.
Ashlawn parents were notified less than a week ahead. The letter offered no opt-out, buried the book’s topic in its middle paragraph, and went out only in English, although 27% of Ashlawn’s students are Hispanic or Asian. All other communication goes home bilingual.
APS seems comfortable employing furtive tactics to slip controversial topics, to which parents might object, into classrooms.
In truth, APS is part of a larger set of trials, to which I as a parent have not consented for my children. David Aponte, co-chair of the local chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) said last year in the Washington Post, “Northern Virginia and California have served as laboratories for policies regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.”
Arlington, our children are being experimented on.
No person of conscience would object to a policy of non-discrimination and support for all students. In fact, that policy exists:
"In accordance with School Board Policy J-2, APS prohibits discrimination on the basis of race …. gender identity or expression, and/or disability." [Emphasis added.]
But this new PIP seeks to “expose kids at a young age” to transgender-themed materials, as one advocate affirmed at the February 25 meeting.
This PIP erodes parents’ rights over their children’s education, eliminates Title IX protections for girls, and risks convincing healthy, normally-developing boys and girls that their bodies are wrong and must be altered with hormones and vandalized by surgical instruments.
If this PIP is adopted:
every child in APS will be taught transgender theory, starting in kindergarten.
if a boy says he feels like a girl, he gains access to the girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, and changing areas. No adult may question him.
said boy can also sleep in the girls’ quarters on school trips. The girls’ parents are stripped of the right to object.
said boy gets to compete in girls’ sports. (If your daughter hoped for an athletic scholarship, start working on Plan B. These biological boys are already mopping the floors with our girls.)
all teachers and staff members, regardless of personal opinions or convictions, will be required to teach and promote transgender ideas, as well as affirm hormone therapy and double-mastectomies/penectomies.
Unquestioning affirmation of cross-gender identification is the only policy sanctioned by GLSEN and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the funding and policy arm of the LGBTQ+ caucus.1
But the data does not back them up.
Sexuality & Gender: Findings From the Biological, Psychological, & Social Sciences, a report and summary of research related to sexual orientation and gender, concludes that “some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.”2
Without clear, unbiased, peer-reviewed research into the efficacy and validity of policies related to gender dysphoria, any policy adoption is experimental at best. A 2011 study from Sweden, one of the most transgender-supportive countries in the world, admits that after decades of support for social transition and sex reassignment, no positive change has occurred regarding rates of mortality, suicide, and psychiatric morbidity.3
This PIP is not about protections for gender dysphoric students, who make up only 0.7% of the school population, or about 200 of 28,000 students. This policy mandates the promotion of transgender politics and encourages the life-long medicalization of children.
APS is either for parents’ rights, girls’ protections, children’s health, and policy transparency, or APS is opposed to all of these things. Their track record does not reassure, given the Ashlawn debacle and the opacity with which this PIP is being developed.
Parents--not school systems--hold authority over what their children learn about sexuality and gender, and when. APS needs to open-kimono and inform parents that this PIP is being developed, as well as move its deadlines back at least a year--to June 2020--to fulfill their obligations to respect parents’ rights and prerogatives, and to have a legitimate dialogue about this subject. To do otherwise calls into question whether APS is fit to set educational policies for children at all.
Maria Keffler is a former middle and high school teacher; holds an M.S.Ed. in testing & measurement, educational psychology; and is a parent of three children in Arlington County Public Schools.
1 Full policy available at https://arlingtonparentcoa.wixsite.com/arlingtonparentcoa/agia-policy-proposal-aps-working-do
2 Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh, "Executive Summary," Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences, The New Atlantis, Number 50, Fall 2016, pp. 7-9.
3 Dheine, Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden, PLoS One. 2011; 6(2): e16885, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3043071/
We Fought the Transgender Activists, and Lost.
Here Are 5 Lessons for Every Parent.
By Kristen Allen
Our defeat was all but inevitable, yet the transgender activists still showed up in matching shirts and waved multicolored flags. Their speakers outnumbered ours 4 to 1, but they still hissed and muttered ugly names at our side while we spoke.
We had gathered for the Arlington County School Board’s meeting on June 18. For four months, the Arlington Parent Coalition had worked tirelessly to get our liberal school board and administrators to reconsider or delay the implementation of policies that would expand accommodations for transgender-identified students.
Those policies were passed four years ago during the summer, when nobody was paying attention. Their timing was not unintentional.
The steady and focused efforts of transgender activists over the last 20-30 years are now bearing fruit. Some of the policy changes coming to Arlington County include biological boys and girls being allowed into each others’ bathrooms and locker rooms, girls having to compete against transgender boys in sports, and schools compelling speech in favor of transgender pronouns.
Parents are seen as a potential threat to transgender students, and any opposition to transgender accommodations is perceived as hateful bigotry.
Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the Alliance for Defending Freedom, estimates that hundreds of school systems across the country are now fighting the roll out of transgender ideology.
However, several lessons emerged from our efforts that might be helpful to other grassroots groups.
1. Courage is contagious.
While some hesitate to engage for fear of being called a “hater” or “bigot,” we must push back on those who want to reshape our children’s understanding of biology, personhood, privacy, and the primary role of parents.
Often, people have an intuitive discomfort with transgender ideology, but need direction on how to act. Give people specific ways they can take one small risk (e.g. write a letter, meet with officials, have a hard conversation), then nudge them to take another risk. Celebrate every act of engagement and resistance. It puts school officials on notice and slows down the rate at which the system accommodates the transgender agenda.
2. Put together a diverse coalition.
The transgender movement divides—the child against him or herself, children against parents, and neighbor against neighbor.
Use the power of common interest across the lines of faith, culture, and politics to create alliances. Christians and Muslims must coordinate. Immigrant parents need to be involved. Liberals and conservatives must find points on which they agree.
People must get out of their social and ideological comfort zones and present a united front on this issue affecting all children.
3. The gatekeepers have failed parents.
Despite significant internal disagreement, professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the National School Board Association succumbed to pressure from the transgender advocates to endorse affirmation ideology.
Those entrusted with the job of vetting the research and best practices for treating kids with gender dysphoria have folded under financial or peer influence.
Pressure needs to be brought on these professional groups to retract and/or modify their positions, as local educators and elected officials are deferring to these groups’ statements of support.
However, local doctors and mental health professionals have a powerful voice when speaking about the dangers of affirming transgender children. Get them involved.
4. Spread the truth about gender-affirming therapy.
Educating people is essential, and information about the dangers of affirming gender dysphoria is being suppressed.
For instance, a simple internet search on “transgender children” provides lists of references from transgender advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign. It’s much harder to find the alternative point of view.
Parents should prepare talking points and source citations to use with school administrators, their school board, and other parents.
Much more research is needed, but ask school administrators if the scientific studies they use to justify new policies are peer reviewed, have a large sample size, and have tracked children for many years.
In some cases, the studies themselves have been underwritten by gender clinics or transgender advocates.
5. There are no opt outs for our kids.
Parents must understand that we now exist in a “post-opt out” world. You are misled if you believe pulling your children out of certain course units will protect them.
Transgender ideology is coming from the “bottom up” through social media and massive cultural changes.
Public school children are being indoctrinated in transgender ideology by posters on the wall, speakers in the library, books on the shelves, after-school clubs, school-wide celebrations, and politicized teachers. Vigilance and consistent engagement with principals and classroom teachers are critical.
Concerned parents are, to borrow from the musical “Hamilton?,” “out-gunned, out-manned, out-numbered, out-planned.” If you already are stretched in terms of time and attention, the situation can feel too big, too scary, and too inevitable.
At one point, I found myself looking for an exit from the fight when an activist from neighboring Fairfax County gave me a steely look and said, “It is far worse than you understand, and don’t you dare walk away.”
Only parents can demand accountability from school systems and set boundaries around their children. We can’t walk away.
Coming to a School Near You:
No Opt-Out Transgender Ideology
By Maria Keffler
On the home page of genderspectrum.org, a website dedicated to helping activists push transgender policies and curricula into schools via “Entry Points”, a supporter’s blurb summed up the movement’s fundamental objective:
“I was … happy to see that the information that might seem controversial or surprising to us was taken at face value by the kids.” – “Dashka”
Young children are unguardedly receptive to what they learn from trusted adults, and organizations like the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Educational Network (GLSEN) and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF), the funding and policy arm of the LGBTQ+ lobby, are working tirelessly to exploit that vulnerability.
On February 28, 2019, Ashlawn Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, co-opted National Read Across America Day to host a transgender activist who read the transgender storybook “I Am Jazz” to two classes of kindergartners. A disingenuously enthusiastic letter about the event went out to parents only days ahead, with no opt-out offered and the subject of the instruction buried in the central paragraph.
This was no one-off anomaly at some oddball charter school in a radically left-wing district; it was a strategic move staged at a public primary school toward the nationwide rollout of transgender propaganda.
People who consider themselves transgender comprise about 0.7% of the population, or about 7 in every 1000 people. While no person of conscience would decry the need for fairness and non-discrimination for transgender students, policies dictated by GLSEN and HRCF go substantially beyond anti-bullying. They advocate not only promotion and celebration of the transgender experience, but also seek to curtail parents’ authority over their children’s education, as well as circumvent parents’ right to teach their own kids about human sexuality in their own way and time, and according to their own values.
The local special-interest group Arlington Gender Identity Allies (AGIA), who funneled the GLSEN Model Policy into the proposal currently being developed at Arlington Public Schools (APS), included this language about room-sharing on school trips in their document:
“Under no circumstances can a parent refuse to have their child room with a transgender student based on gender identity and/or expression if their child has agreed to the arrangement.”
Therefore, if a student is uncomfortable sharing a bedroom (and possibly a bed) with a member of the opposite biological sex, it is incumbent upon that child to assert a refusal and risk the disapproval of other students and staff.
Good parents offer their children socially acceptable escape routes from difficult situations by letting kids blame them: “Mom and Dad won’t let me do that.” GLSEN’s policy prohibits parents from providing that face-saving protection. Or any protection at all.
Good parents also want what’s best for all children, including those with special needs.
But the affirmation-only approach to gender dysphoria, which underpins the entire ideology of the GLSEN, HRCF, and AGIA policies, is not the only—nor even the most widely recommended—strategy for wellness support. The American College of Pediatricians cites “dramatic rates of resolution of gender dysphoria … among children when they are not encouraged to impersonate the opposite sex.”
GLSEN and HRCF are driving the affirmation-only approach solely for political, cultural, and financial gains, despite ample evidence that other approaches, like watchful waiting with compassionate psychological support, lead to better outcomes for children, and are also backed up by vastly more reliable, valid, and reputable scientific data. Dr. James Cantor, in his article “American Academy of Pediatrics Policy and Trans Kids: Fact Checking”, asserts that “every follow-up study of [gender dysphoric] children, without exception, found the same thing: By puberty, the majority of [gender dysphoric] children ceased to want to transition.”
If a student expresses discomfort with his or her biological sex, promoting social and medical transition is akin to telling an anorexic, “Yes, you really are fat. You should diet.” It’s dishonest, destructive, and entirely counterproductive.
One may choose to ignore the physiological fact that one’s sex is chromosomally hard-wired into every cell of the body. One may further disregard that even in the extremely rare incidences of intersex conditions the chromosomal sex intended before something went awry is nearly always obvious. One can even shrug off the reality that the best a gender dysphoric person can hope to achieve via hormones and surgical sex reassignment is passable impersonation of the other sex. But, as the American College of Pediatricians concludes, “twin studies alone establish that the ‘alternative perspective’ of an ‘innate gender identity’ trapped in the wrong body is in fact an ideological belief that has no basis in rigorous science.”
Schools and parents are being deceived when they consult self-designated “experts” like Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the Medical Director of Transyouth Health & Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, who’s written extensively about puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment. She has also provided puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to over 800 children, according to her bio blurb at Gender Odyssey. Olson-Kennedy is married to Aydin Olson-Kennedy, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Los Angeles Gender Center, and is also a female-to-male transgender man.
When gender dysphoric children present to Aydin Olson-Kennedy for counseling, how convenient it is that he can refer them to his wife’s practice for the administration of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.
And one more note about the Olson-Kennedys: until at least as late as 2015 they both had a financial relationship with Endo Pharmaceuticals, a company which manufactures and sells puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.
Unless sensible people armed with factual research demand that schools and school boards establish policies based on science and data, as opposed to fantasy and financial gain, this unconscionable propaganda will succeed at accessing our children via the “Entry Points” the transgender lobby has so systematically outlined.
Compassion for gender dysphoric people and progressive social attitudes are not incompatible with some robust skepticism about policies that undermine parental rights, as well as threaten children’s health and well-being.
We can and must do better by our kids than this.
Point of View: APC Discusses Gender Policy in Public Schools
(Penna Dexter, July 9, 2019; Starts 2:27:30)
WMAL: APC Discusses How APS Is Pushing a New Policy on Transgender & Non-Binary Students
(Mornings On The Mall, June 10, 2019)
This Mom Is Fighting Her Kids' School District's LGBT Indoctrination
(The Daily Signal, April 30, 2019)
WMAL: APC Discusses APS Gender Politics Agenda
(Mornings On The Mall, April 9, 2019)
WMAL: APC Discusses Gender Ideology in APS
(Larry O'Connor Show, April 8, 2019)