A new document released by the Minnesota Department of Education is forcing gender ideology onto K-12 students and their parents by elevating the claim that biological sex is subordinate to self-declared “gender.”
Minnesota’s new “Toolkit for Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” upends the common civic understanding, based upon biological science, that there are only two sexes – male and female – and creates an entirely different structure for school relationships that caters to a very small number of troubled gender dysphoric children as it dismisses the needs of the majority of children who accept their biological sex.
More than 200 parents and LGBT activists watched the state education advisory council vote to approve the toolkit, reports the Star Tribune, which described the document as a “nonbinding guide with information about providing welcoming environments for all students and guidelines for school officials to support transgender and gender-nonconforming students.”
Many parents at the meeting said the toolkit overreaches.
“Concerns of gender-conforming students and parents are ignored and dismissed” by the toolkit, said John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council.
“Sadly, this toolkit undermines my authority as a parent,” Joy Orbis also said.
Similarly, parent Barb Anderson said, “The toolkit encourages teachers to teach false conceptions of gender.”
OutFront Minnesota LGBT activists, however, said the toolkit would save lives, drawing on the claim that gender dysphoric children are more likely to be depressed and commit suicide:
— OutFront Minnesota (@outfrontmn) July 27, 2017
— OutFront Minnesota (@outfrontmn) July 19, 2017
Despite such potential mental health problems associated with gender confusion, however, LGBT activists also have attempted to condemn and legally suppress any form of counseling for these disturbed children and adolescents that does not immediately affirm their preferred gender at any given point in time.
Youth Gender Professionals, a self-described left-leaning group of mental health and other professionals, asserts such state prohibitions are dangerous since they may block the process of critical thinking and evaluation of the young person regarding the reasons why he or she desires to become a transgender member of the opposite sex.
“While the sentiment behind this legislation is laudable, in some cases, it is being interpreted to mean that therapists cannot explore gender identity with a youth who is professing to be trans,” argue the professionals. “This would mean we can’t ask why; we can’t explore underlying mental health issues; we can’t consider the symbolic nature of the gender dysphoria; and we can’t look at possible confounding issues such as social media use or social contagion.”
The toolkit demonstrates the state education department’s total acceptance of the claim by radical LGBT activists:
Families of transgender and gender nonconforming students play a critical role in their child’s well-being and success at school. A family’s acceptance and support of their child’s gender identity is strongly associated with positive mental health and academic achievement.
The Minnesota Education Department, in fact, is on board with gender transition:
To ensure a safe and supportive transition at school, school leaders and staff should meet with the student and parents to actively discuss transition. The Gender Spectrum’s Student Gender Transition Plan may be a helpful resource for school staff when planning with the student and family. Schools should appreciate that it is helpful to the student to have support before, during and after transition.
Writing at the National Pulse, Andrea Moury observes that the toolkit goes overboard in catering to the needs of a few gender-confused students while dismissing those of the vast majority of children who are comfortable with who they are:
While its stated goal is to provide a welcoming place to all students, the document in fact caters to a small minority of transgender students while suggesting policies which alienate others. It tells school officials that they have the duty of ensuring transgender students can access private spaces “consistent with their gender identity.” If that makes other children feel uncomfortable or unsafe, these other students should be segregated into a private space — as long as that will not result in stigmatizing the transgender student.
According to the toolkit:
Schools should work with transgender and gender nonconforming students to ensure that they are able to access needed facilities in a manner that is safe, consistent with their gender identity and does not stigmatize them. Privacy objections raised by a student in interacting with a transgender or gender nonconforming student may be addressed by segregating the student raising the objection provided that the action of the school officials does not result in stigmatizing the transgender and gender nonconforming student.
American Principles Project senior fellows Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins write at Townhall that the Minnesota toolkit is an example of “totalitarianism”:
Overall, the toolkit is most noteworthy for its utter lack of concern, bordering on disdain, for non-transgendered students. These students are treated as mere obstacles to full self-actualization of their confused classmates, possessed of prejudices that should generally not be catered to.
McGroarty and Robbins point out as well that Minnesota’s education department also relies upon the pro-transgender Obama-era Title IX interpretation, which includes “gender identity” in the definition of “sex.”
“But it fails to mention that the current U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn the Obama administration’s “guidance” that expanded the statute beyond its boundaries,” the authors state. “Although a few activist courts have stretched Title IX to accommodate the leftist claims, it is entirely dishonest to cite withdrawn guidance as reflecting the requirements of federal law.”
The toolkit even encourages “transitioning” students to change their identities on official school records – or as McGroarty and Robbins assert, “falsify education records” – without any documentation:
Schools should not assume a student’s name, gender identity or pronoun. School officials should ask the student and use the requested name and pronouns. Students need not provide schools with legal documents to correct their first name or gender within their student records.
The state education department goes as far as to warn school personnel they could be in violation of federal law if they even casually use a transgender student’s “incorrect” pronoun or name.
“Casual use of a student’s incorrect pronoun or incorrect name may violate FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act],” the document asserts.
When it comes to athletic activities, the Minnesota Education Department states:
Schools should not exclude any student from participation in a school-affiliated activity based on a student’s gender identity or transgender status. Schools should not treat students differently on the basis of sex, including gender identity, in any school activities or the application of any school rule. Schools must provide the same opportunities to transgender and gender nonconforming students that they provide to all students. Transgender or gender nonconforming students should be able to participate in activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity.
For school or athletic field trips, it is clear in the Minnesota toolkit that the privacy of the majority of students who are comfortable with their biological sex is not the priority:
If students are to be separated based on gender when travelling for athletic, educational or cultural activities, school officials should allow a transgender or gender nonconforming student the opportunity to room with peers who match the student’s gender identity unless the transgender or gender nonconforming student requests otherwise. At times, any student may have specific needs for privacy and the school should make arrangements based on that student’s needs.
To further accommodate the “needs” of a few troubled students, the state education department even recommends eliminating longstanding school traditions that refer to biological sex:
[S]chools may wish to consider revisiting existing traditions or establishing new traditions. For example, instead of electing a homecoming king and homecoming queen, some schools have chosen to nominate “prom ambassadors,” “homecoming court” or “homecoming royalty.” At the University of Minnesota, for example, the titles of homecoming king and queen have been replaced with the title “Homecoming Royalty” and students selected as royalty will now be called “royals.”
At the education department advisory council meeting, state Reps. Tim Miller (R) and Abigail Whelan (R) spoke against adopting the toolkit.
“I do not see sensitivities to a 13-year-old Christian girl or a kindergarten boy who cannot possibly have a sexual orientation,” Miller said, according to the Tribune.
Whelan compared the use of transgender pronouns to allowing someone to decide his race.
“If someone says they want me to refer to them by a different race, I wouldn’t do that,” she said.
McGroarty and Robbins say the radical agenda of the Minnesota Education Department is “bullying” students and parents.
“Parents and children will be bullied into relinquishing their basic human rights to accommodate a tiny minority of troubled students – and dissent will not be tolerated,” the authors conclude. “Or, as an alternative, Minnesota parents could inform [the state education department] that their children won’t be subjected to this petty tyranny. Radical bureaucrats intent on making public schools uninhabitable for the vast majority of citizens must be reminded who’s in charge.”