Ned Coursey ‘24
Opinions Staff Writer
In a recent article, The Fenwick Review wrote an endorsement of the recently passed Parental Rights in Education Bill, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by many of its detractors. This bill seeks to prohibit “discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner…” and will no doubt have negative effects on gay and transgender youths’ ability to express themselves in safe environments.
But this article seems to take an even more extreme position than Florida legislators, asking why sexual education has a place in schools to begin with, and positining that “the insertion of sexual education into schools itself was an ideological goal of non-governmental organizations (NGO), rather than a popular demand by parents and students.” A poll done by Planned Parenthood has shown the opposite to be true, as upwards of 89% of likely voters see sex education as “very” or “somewhat” important in middle school, with an increase to 98% for high school students. Furthermore, the vast majority of likely voters believe that discussions about sexual orientation should be included in any form of sexual education. The benefits of sex education should not be undermined, as it leads to a lower transmission of STIs, less unwanted pregnancies, and, in the case of gender and sexuality, less dread in the face of expressing one’s sexuality.
The Fenwick Review article’s critique of sex education continues by asserting that children are being increasingly “sexualized” in schools due to the sexual education and promotion of gender theory. While it is true that sexual education is inherently sexual, it is still essential for students to learn this information, which the majority of parents believe should be taught in schools. Furthermore, schools are already implicitly teaching children about heterosexuality, as for many children heterosexual relationships are the norm. Since this innate heterosexual teaching is occuring, it would be unjust to exclude other identities. Teaching children that there are other forms of relationships besides heterosexual ones would de-stigmatize how children view the LGBTQIA+ community, while also preventing the psychological trauma that could come from a child repressing their sexuality later in life.
Similarly, the article argues that since “up to 95% of prepubescent children who suffer from gender dysphoria grow out of their condition” that teaching children about transgenderism is inherently harmful and could somehow coerce them into making “life altering decisions that could leave them infertile or without body parts.” The fact of the matter is that gender affirming care, like that of puberty blockers, are rendered in the early onset of puberty, the same period when (according to the same source) “[Gender dysphoria] is almost certainly permanent.” Those who undergo transitional procedures rarely display any form of regret at their transition. Furthermore transitioning reduces depression and suicidal tendencies within trans youth. To not affirm one’s preferred gender is to put them at physical and psychological risk, and education about gender identity is a way in which these risks may be avoided.
Attacks on sex education, specifically with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity, are harmful to those who fall into the LGBTQIA+ community. To claim that we are “protecting the children” while allowing bills to be put into place which could physically and psychologically injure many students is dangerous. The fact remains that ignoring the existence of gay and trans people in bills like “Parental Rights in Education” forces children into traditional gender identity and heterosexual norms more than even the most radical applications of gender theory does the opposite. This bill is a toxic attack on the LGBTQIA+ community with the facade of “defending the kids.” In order to truly protect individuals in our society, we must be educated in their identity and accepting of their existence.