Last Thursday afternoon, time expired for parents to provide comments on proposed changes to sex education in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), one of the largest school districts in the country, with a population of about 180,000 students. As The Federalist reported last week, the proposal includes labeling boys and girls, respectively, as “assigned” males and females “at birth.” It also includes curricula on “sexual orientation and gender identity” that involves watching a pro-transgender PBS video telling kids they can have “intermediate” private parts.
If you think FCPS officials will carefully consider comments and complaints from parents worried about exposing their prepubescent children to transgender ideology, and perhaps even rethink their plans, I have some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you. As we have seen from earlier examples of Fairfax County “welcoming comments” on proposed changes to road names, this public survey is nothing more than an empty, perfunctory bureaucratic procedure aimed at pretending that parents have a say regarding what happens during the school day.
Yet even more saliently, FCPS’s willingness to embrace this radical gender ideology and foist it upon thousands of Northern Virginia youth provokes a more important question: If our public schools can’t differentiate boys from girls, what wisdom and knowledge can they impart?
Ignoring Basic Biology in Favor of Gender Studies
I confess a certain embarrassment to be the one writing on this. When I worked in FCPS, I taught high-school history, not science. Years before that, I earned a respectable but certainly not impressive “B” in my ninth-grade FCPS honors biology class. But I’d like to think the lessons my teacher offered on the rudimentary realities of male and female biology — which of course apply not only to humans but the entirety of the natural order — are still in effect, even if it’s been 24 years since the last time I took a test on stamens, pistils, and gametes. I can still remember us boys immaturely chuckling when our teacher discussed ova and sperm.
But this is no laughing matter. School administrators and educators across the country have dispensed with these basic truths of biology in favor of the latest “findings” from politicized university sociology and “gender studies” departments. Schools take their directives not from biology — or, God forbid, classical philosophy and its articulation of the teleological nature of the human body, oriented, as ova and sperm are, toward the creation of new life — but from politically motivated journalists who attack the few teachers courageous enough to take a stand.
The new FCPS directive — which other school districts will undoubtedly follow — rejects stable and universal distinctions between large and small gametes and the fact that sexes can now also be determined at conception through the SRY gene (resulting in male gametes), or its absence (female gametes). They expound endlessly on “intersex” persons who supposedly undermine “binary norms,” neglecting to note that such persons are incredibly rare: Sex is readily recognizable at birth for 99.98 percent of humans. Of the 3.6 million babies born in America in 2021, there was some manner of sex-related deformity or irregularity in about 750 of them, according to Abigail Favale’s book “The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory.” But to the ideologues, a trait found in .02 percent of people isn’t a biological deformity, but a new “gender.”
The Casualties of the Curriculum
The FCPS directive can only further intensify the casualties from confused gender ideology, well documented in Abigail Shrier’s recent popular book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” Little girls have been exhorted to go on puberty blockers, causing all kinds of permanent harm, from sterility to arrested brain and bone development. As I noted in a Federalist article earlier this year, a recent Heritage study observed that “easing access to cross-sex treatments without parental consent significantly increases suicide rates.” And a 2016 report found that “a large percentage of adolescents referred for gender dysphoria have a substantial co-occurring history of psychosocial and psychological vulnerability.” A growing body of research indicates that promoting transgenderism in youth increases mental illness.
Professor John S. Grabowski’s in his recent book “Unraveling Gender: The Battle Over Sexual Difference,” notes that “significant evidence reveals that aggressive hormonal and surgical transitioning procedures do not improve mental health outcomes for people who undergo them — even in ostensibly LGBTQ+ friendly cultures.” Moreover, postoperative transsexuals experience higher rates for psychiatric hospitalization, criminal conviction, and suicide, not to mention higher risk of mortality. In other words, confusing prepubescent fourth-graders or hormonal eighth-graders about their gender and sexuality may very well have lifelong detrimental effects on their emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.
It’s Not Just Biology, but English, Social Studies, Libraries…
If only it were in science classes that children are catechized in errant ideologies. An FCPS English teacher earlier this year read 10th-grade students a poem about masturbation (my 10th-grade FCPS English class, by comparison, read “Brave New World,” “1984,” “Lord of the Flies,” and “Antigone”). School libraries promote trans content for elementary schoolers, including in picture books. FCPS prides itself on its libraries’ queer book selection.
And, of course, we cannot forget social studies, whose curricula have become beholden to racial ideologies pushed by the 1619 Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Many Virginia schools have embraced the SPLC’s “Teaching Hard History” curriculum, while school districts across the country are using the 1619 Project’s social studies curriculum. That New York Times-originating project believes that America was “founded … on an ideal and a lie” as a “slavocracy,” and that “anti-blackness” is “at the core of so many of our institutions and really our society itself.”
It depresses me to see what has happened in FCPS, and so many other school districts across the country. I am a product of FCPS, as are many of my extended family members. My mother and I worked in FCPS. It was once an impressive school system, one my parents trusted to offer me a solid, if secular, education. Now its leadership can’t even tell boys from girls. On what grounds should we trust them regarding anything else?