Controversy

Should gender identity be taught to children in schools?

WRITTEN BY
03/12/24
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Fact Box

  • A September 2022 New York Times poll revealed that 70% of Americans opposed educational instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools, while 27% supported the idea. 
  • According to a 2022 Pew Research study, a growing share of young adults from 18 to 29 are more likely to identify as transgender or nonbinary rather than older individuals. 
  • On June 16, 2021, SCOTUS extended Title IX protections, originally offered on the basis of sex, to include gender identity and sexual orientation. US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in response to the change, 'Today, the Department makes clear that all students—including LGBTQ+ students—deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.'
  • A February 2022 Gallup report finds LGBTQ identification in the US has ticked up to 7.1%, up from 5.6% in 2021, with nearly 21% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ and 10% of respondents identifying as transgender.

Elisa (No)

Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett says gender identity should not be taught in schools because not only is it a contradicting and false concept, but it is shifting curiosity from the love of math, reading, and other subjects that are necessary to the proper education of children to self-focused concepts that children can barely understand anyway and fly in the face of reason and logic. Bigotry isn't behind the pushback against the rising sexualized curriculum more frequently occurring in America. Rather, opponents argue that parents must take control of this type of education at home—not teachers. 

Ultimately, parents should have a right to decide what their children should learn, even if it goes against the mainstream ideological tide. The problem for many parents is not the actual learning about gender identity but that this idea is being pushed upon some of the youngest demographics of children, such as kindergarteners and preschoolers. It is simply wrong to introduce highly contestable sexual topics to young school-aged children without parental consent or knowledge. Some kindergarteners barely know their birthday or can identify all the colors in the rainbow—let alone correctly articulate what it means to be a boy or a girl without referencing stereotypes

Over the years, too much has been given to teachers to take on, and many believe schools should refrain from taking sides on complex political issues. Teachers should have time to focus on the core curriculum, especially seeing as the primary education of America's youth has been on a steady decline. Likewise, not every teacher agrees with the modern push toward gender identity curriculum. Therefore, teachers should not have to choose to go against their conscience when teaching in the first place. 


Andrew (Yes)

Despite what conservative fear-mongers may claim, teaching children about gender identity isn't about grooming, the gay agenda, or making kids gay—it's about teaching them the realities of the gender spectrum in an age-appropriate way. It teaches them how to love and respect all individuals regardless of their identity. This is especially important for LGBTQ+ children who, according to Planned Parenthood, '…tend to take greater risks with their health and suffer from mental health conditions at higher rates…' when not shown the support they need. Teaching this material recognizes the humanity in everyone and affirms the need for acceptance, tolerance, and respect for all members of society.

Whether taught formally in schools or not, children explore these topics from an early age. It makes sense that we provide them with good and safe information because they will find access to these topics anyway. This could come from unreliable sources such as the internet, social media, or friends at school. By teaching gender identity in schools, we can ensure that young people get accurate information vetted by experts and designed to be part of an age-appropriate curriculum. 

Teaching kids to be understanding and more accepting costs society nothing, yet we stand to gain a great deal by living in a society that is more open and less filled with fear, hate, and bigotry. Teaching children accurate and age-appropriate gender identity information helps them better understand themselves and recognize that others around them may identify differently.

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