The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is directing teachers to incorporate lessons about gender identity to kindergartners, and says that teachers in the state are not required to inform parents should a child express a desire to socially transition.
According to the MDSE health education guidelines, “gender identity and expression” should be introduced to pre-K students in order for them to learn to “recognize and respect that people express themselves in many different ways,” and to understand “intergenerational” relationships.
Content related to gender identity gradually increases according to grade level, and by grade 6 students are expected to “define sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and gender expression”.
Parents are not given a choice as to whether their children will be taught about gender identity in pre-K and kindergarten. The curricula framework states, “Opt-out is permitted for family life and human sexuality education starting in grade 4.”
In addition, the MDSE information disclosure guidelines assert that there are neither state nor federal laws requiring school personnel to disclose a student’s self-declared gender identity or status to the child’s parents. Teachers are also expected to comply with student’s wishes to be referred to as the opposite sex.
The guidelines state, “Address every student by a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity. Privately ask students how they want to be addressed in class and whether this will be different when in correspondence to the home or at conferences with the student’s parents or guardians.”
A presentation for Harford County teachers on LGBT instruction obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request depicts possible scenarios teachers may encounter in which they are encouraged to withhold information from parents, as first reported by The National Desk.
“So for this scenario… a student has shared with you that they are currently transitioning. They also reveal to you that their parent does not know. You may be unsure if they are supportive of this transition or not. What you could say is, ‘Thank you for letting me know. Is there anything that I can do to support you?’” one of the presenters said.
“And just like the question regarding the roster, you can say back, ‘When I communicate with your parent or guardian, what name and pronouns would you like me to use?’”
Legal representative for conservative group The Heritage Foundation, Sarah Perry, has emphasized that “parents have a constitutional right to raise and educate their children how they see fit.”
“Children are not wards of the state. They are to be parented in such a way that the parents are primary authority until the age of emancipation on things like education, health and welfare,” she told TND.
In March, LA County mother Abigail Martinez accused her school of encouraging her daughter to transition while failing to properly address her depression, ultimately leading to the girl’s suicide.
In a statement sent to the Daily Mail, LA County agreed that they “aggressively pursued the implementation of inclusive, gender-affirming laws, policies and supportive services for LGBTQ+ youth,” but blamed the student’s death on “higher rates of suicide” among young people who identify as transgender.
Two statistics that are commonly used by transactivists as evidence of an increased suicidality correlated with a declared gender identity are 41, or even 48, percent of young transgender people have attempted suicide.
However, the authors of the study responsible for the 41% figure have admitted their research was flawed. According to the authors, the questionnaire included “only a single item about suicidal behavior that asked, ‘Have you ever attempted suicide?’ with dichotomized responses of Yes/No. Researchers have found that using this question alone in surveys can inflate the percentage of affirmative responses.” The survey also did not account for any mental health conditions.
The 48% figure originated with a survey by mental health charity PACE that has been thoroughly discredited. Due to its sample size of just 27 self-selected people, the UK’s Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) issued a statement cautioning that journalists who repeat the statistic are distorting the truth as it “highlights potential editorial standards issues relating [to] accuracy”.
Similarly, the MDSE disclosure guidance cites suicidality as its reasoning for withholding information from parents. A 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is sourced, though its sample size is limited to 132 respondents.
Moreover, research has shown that suicide contagion can occur through exposure to suggestion through media reports of suicide resulting in increased ideation and related behaviors.
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