Washington State Schools Add Gender Identity to Health Curriculum

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

Newly released health and physical education standards for the state of Washington include a "core idea" declaring that kindergarten children should "understand there are many ways to express gender."

The standards label "self-identity" as a subtopic of the "core idea" in the K-12 curriculum. It defines gender as a "social construct based on emotional, behavioral, and cultural characteristics attached to a person's assigned biological sex."

This definition is different from the traditional education and public criteria, both of which believe that children with male biological characteristics will and should see themselves as boys, and that the same should be true for physiological girls. The standard practices are supported by statistics, science, experience, and parental preference.

Dr. Susan Berry, writing for Breitbart, reports that Washington backs the opposite point of view. She adds that the federal government also claims the state government, local communities, and the public must accept that young people's claims that their biology and feelings concerning their gender are disconnected and must stand behind every child's personal sense of "gender identity."

"Transgender" is defined in the standards as "a broad term describing people whose gender expression is non-conforming and/or whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth."

The federal standards are linked to the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model. The Washington state superintendent's office said the state uses the National Sexuality Education Standards, K-12 (NSES) as a model for the new state standards.

A Bellevue, Washington parent, Vlada Knowlton, has a transgender daughter and said the new learning standards will help kids learn empathy, reports Elisa Hahn for KING-TV.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) revealed that self-identity is now a part of sexual health. In kindergarten, students will be taught that there are many ways to express gender. Fourth-grade kids will learn about sexual orientation.

For example, said OSPI's Director of Learning and Teaching Marissa Rathbone, children will learn that no matter the gender of a person, that individual can play any sport. And no matter what gender, a person can wear any color, such as boys wearing pink if they wish.

The controversy over the standards stems from some parents being concerned that their youngsters will be academically assessed on "ideological differences," writes Casey Quinlan for ThinkProgress. And the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) says:

"… parents should be concerned about whether these standards are age-appropriate, as well as whether the manner in which these topics will be taught may undermine the values held by their family."

The disagreements are likely due to a misunderstanding of how the standards will be taught. The topics surrounding the subject of gender expression will be introduced in a progressive manner through the grade levels.

Only three topics of 36 are required to be presented to students, and self-identity is not one of those subjects. The word "transgender" is not used in any grade, and "gender identity" is not mentioned until third grade.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Communications Manager Nathan Olson continued by explaining that parents can opt their children out of the health unit if they are so inclined.

The Christian Times' Suzette Gutierrez Cachila writes that the FPIW is urging parents to get involved at their kids' schools. The organization also encourages parents to ask their school boards whether they intend to implement the state's "radical new curriculum." If parents are dissatisfied with the answers they receive, FPIW has asked parents to run for a position on the school board.

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