A school system in Virginia is planning to teach about the gender identity spectrum and the fluidity of sexuality beginning in the fall of 2016.
The sex ed curriculum for grades 7-12 in Fairfax County, Virginia, will be teaching gender as a social and psychological spectrum, upon which there are infinite gradations. Most people are cisgender, meaning that they identify with the gender assigned to them at birth, but others are transgender, meaning their feelings don't sync up with the gender they were assigned at birth. The world may see them as male when they are really women, or vice versa. Others may feel themselves to be androgynous, different genders at different times, or no gender at all.
Many contend that gender is biological, and that any gender system that isn't divided into two categories is unscientific, but this curriculum will give students a greater understanding of transgender people, who face some of the highest rates of hate crimes.
They also plan to teach that sexuality is fluid, and orientation can change over the course of one's lifetime, writes Howard Portnoy of the Examiner.
These policies are based on the work of a group called Gender Spectrum, which works with educators to raise awareness of these topics, writes Inquisitr.
The school board also voted to include gender identity in the district's nondiscrimination policy, offering protection for transgender students and allowing them to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
District recommendations for middle and high school health classes read:
Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender. Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.
Individual identity will also be described as having four parts– biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual).
Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime. Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed with focus on appreciation for individual differences.
Many parents disagree with these changes, but they will be able to opt out of the classes for their children, notes Todd Starnes of Fox News.
The Fairfax County school board says that they were required to pass the changes by the United States Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights or else risk losing federal funding, writes the Inquisitr, which totals $42 million.