COVER STORY Gross desserts on the sex-education menu
by Terri M. Kelleher
News Weekly, June 4, 2016
In News Weekly May 7, 2016, I referred to the Building Respectful Relationships (BRR) program, which is purportedly designed to prevent domestic/family violence.
BRR is solidly based on queer gender theory: “Students need to understand that gender is not fixed and that as young people they can resist traditional notions of what it means to be a young man or a young woman in today’s society. … They will examine the implications of gendered assumptions around masculinities, femininities and sexualities for themselves, others and in intimate relationships. Students will begin to develop skills in … deconstruction, reconstruction.” (Unit 1 (Year 8 – ages 13-14) Session 1)
Basically what this means is that students will be taught to “deconstruct” (that is, question and reject) the perceived reality that every person is male or female and accept the idea that sex is not binary (that is, male and female) and that gender is fluid.
Students are provided with the story of a female to male transgender girl: “It’s hard sometimes, being this screwed up, feeling my whole life is a lie … It can drive me insane, how hard I have to fight just to get across to people I’m a man. And not having a penis and not being able to father children and not being able to marry a woman and not being able to play cricket on the guys’ teams and …”
This is very mixed up and confused. The story finishes with the statement: “I am young, just out of puberty … I hope to start taking testosterone over my summer vacation, which at least will eliminate some of my problems.”
Young people are being encouraged by this sort of teaching material to distrust science, which provides incontrovertible evidence that we are all either male or female – every cell in our bodies has either male (XY) or female (XX) chromosomes – and to believe that a boy can actually be trapped in a girl’s body and vice versa. And to believe that transitioning hormones and/or gender reassignment surgery will fix the problem.
In Unit 1, Session 2, students are taught that: “Gender refers to socially or culturally defined ideas about masculinity (male roles, attributes and behaviours) and femininity (female roles, attributes and behaviours).”
It continues: “Gender roles are learnt. They are not innate or ‘natural’. In fact, almost everything that males can do, females can also do. And almost everything that females can do, males can also do.
“Gender roles change over time, and in many settings people – especially young people – are embracing greater gender equality.”
Such teaching deconstructs the student’s identity, creating more confusion at a time in life when young teenagers are going through great physical, psychological and emotional changes.
In Unit 2 (Year 9 – ages 15-16), Session 3, Activity 1, is described as: “A potentially sensitive activity because students are playing roles that involve talking about behaviours or situations they could be uncomfortable with.”
Most disturbing are these instructions for teachers: “After the activity, to de-role, ask the students their real names, how they are feeling right now and where they are. Thank them by using their real names and let them return to their original chairs. This is important to ensure none of the role players has slipped into a state of distress or disassociation. If anyone is a bit off or is clearly distressed, ask them to step outside with you for a minute, but thank the others first. If you have a distressed person, spend a few minutes with them and ask what they need to help them feel more in control. It could be some fresh air or a drink. Encourage them to return to the class.”
Why would schools allow students to be exposed to an activity that could lead to them needing to be “debriefed”?
Why would a student be so distressed by the activity that he or she would need to be “debriefed”?
One of the role play characters, “Kelly”, is a 14-year-old girl who thinks she is a lesbian and has had sexual relationships with a girl and with boys but whose problem is that she can say what she doesn’t want but is not confident enough to say what she does want sexually. A young student having to role-play being “Kelly” may well find it very confronting and feel distressed.
Similarly the character “Grace”, a 16 year old sexually active since 13, might be a distressing role-play for a young student. Or “Megan”, who is 17 and has had 15 sex partners and describes herself as bisexual. This role-playing is forcing young students to accept and/or pretend they can understand and play the part of these characters whose experiences they may not have even imagined much less experienced. The characters’ situations are presented as just challenges that can be discussed and worked through rather than as very confronting and threatening scenarios for young students.
Why are students being forced to (and it is not to the point to say a student could opt out of the activity – teenagers do not want to be different from their peers) discuss matters of a very private and intimate nature before the whole class? Matters they would in the normal course only discuss with trusted persons in private. The role-play is to sweep away students’ right to privacy and put them in a situation where they are asked to discuss intimate matters in public.
But there’s more
At the opposite end of formal education, in kindergartens and child-care centres, the Start Early Initiative is also based on queer gender theory. The Early Childhood Australia website, which offers the three Start Early modules, states that on completion of the Gender Respect and Identity module, educators will have learnt “strategies for increasing gender awareness practices in early childhood settings”.
Early Childhood Australia spokeswoman Clare McHugh told The Herald Sun that the program would reduce domestic violence because “rigid views on gender” were associated with violence and domestic violence. “Children are sexual beings and it’s a strong part of their identity, and it is linked to their values and respect.”
A video records a teacher describing an “interesting interaction” with a two-year-old child who, innocently engaged in gender stereotyping by referring to a blue egg shaker as daddy and a red one as mummy. The teacher was disturbed enough by this behaviour to feel the need to ask the child did the blue one have to be daddy and was the red one always mummy. The teacher recounted that after asking the first time the child continued referring to the blue one as daddy. After the teacher repeated the question the child just smiled. The teacher thought the two year old “might be thinking about it”!
A two year old is not capable of thinking about such an idea. The child would just have got the message that teacher was not happy with his/her acting out the observed reality of his/her life, that is, that he/she has a daddy and a mummy and the colours were a way to identify and distinguish them.
Early childhood educators are asked: “ What teachable moments occur and how can you use them to promote children’s awareness and understanding of gender bias?”
They are advised: “Display photos around your service that show different family structures, men and women undertaking many varied activities, different ways of living.”
Regarding free play, teachers are asked: “How can you encourage children to play in all areas and with diverse resources, without gender limiting their choices, such as boys playing with trucks and girls playing with dolls?” So it is not just allowing them but encouraging them to play with all toys available. This would seem to be directing children to be gender-free in their choices rather than allow them to make the choices that come naturally to them.
Why is a child-care centre or kindergarten being told to be concerned with a child’s choice of toys? Is there an agenda to force children to conform to a genderless model?
“Do boys and girls both wear sparkly costumes?”
Does it matter if a boy does not wear sparkly costumes? And if that is problematic, is it also problematic that a girl does not wear sparkly costumes? And when it comes down to it, is it really a concern if more girls than boys choose to wear sparkly costumes?
Teachers are advised to “get to know families” and to “talk with parents about what they expect from boys and girls. … Respond to sexist behaviour – as well as other discriminatory behaviour such as racism – with understanding and education, not rejection.”
This is all very reasonable, but why is it necessary to talk about “sexist” behaviour? Why not talk about teaching children to be mindful of the feelings of others rather than talking about “responding to sexist behaviour”, which can be subjective and based on personal opinion about what is sexist.
Will this mean imposing the teacher’s view of what is unacceptable based on ideological bias rather than looking at teaching/encouraging young children to become aware of others’ feelings?
“Embedding gender fairness into practice requires re-examining service values, policies and goals for children.
“Gender fairness is an area for intentional teaching.”
This sounds rather ominous. What is “gender fairness”?
And children will “learn that bystanders have a responsibility to act against gender bias”. Is this creating little gender police or activists in kindergarten/child care?
So the education system is from the earliest age breaking down the binary nature of sexual identity and confusing it with such things as race and preferences in what sorts of activities the children like to take part in and what toys they like to play with. All good preparation for learning that gender is fluid and sex is not binary – it’s all the same.