Credit: Allison Shelley for American Education

As a senior congregational rabbi and a law professor of nearly 20 years in California, I was disappointed when Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson proved unable to define the word “woman” when asked during her confirmation hearings for a seat on the Supreme Court. That extraordinary difficulty to distinguish genders perfectly mirrored the crisis now prevalent in California public education.

The state’s school system, established to provide a safe learning climate for all students regardless of their ethnicity, race, language or religious affiliation, is now a social laboratory where students and families from devout faiths feel ostracized and isolated.

Consider: A Catholic mom in Northern California enrolled her daughter in a public charter school. During her initial Zoom classes, the girl, an incoming freshman who had not yet set foot in the school due to Covid-19, was asked her name and “preferred pronouns.”  She chose a male name and male pronouns. The school then used this information without informing her parents.

The parents of the high school freshman asked that I protect their anonymity. Their fear has been validated. Soon after the parents voiced their dismay with school officials, Child Protective Services showed up at their doorstep. The parents feel it was because they protested the school’s actions.

It is bad enough that government divides us by ethnicity, race, religion or language. Must our schools and law enforcement also be leveraged to divide our families, even separating parents from children, reinforcing radical gender ideas?

The new gender category “nonbinary” now appears on all student-information forms. Few parents, reared in a prior generation, realize that “nonbinary” means something akin to “unlimited gender choices.” The California Department of Education defines “nonbinary” as anything beyond the historic “male-female” binary understanding of gender. This can include new terms such as “transgender,” “nongender,” “intersex,” “agender,” “gender queer,” “gender fluid” and “pangender.”

Consider this “Pride Scholars Program” document on the official website of Irvine Valley College:

LGBTQIA+ is an acronym that means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-spirit, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Ally, A-gender, Bi-gender, Gender Queer, Pansexual, Pangender and Gender Variant. Keep an open mind because this is continuously evolving.

Really.  

In its newly adopted Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (chapter 3, page 6, note 5) the California Department of Education says the “usage of LGBTQ+ throughout this document is intended to represent an inclusive and ever-changing spectrum and understanding of identities . . . expand[ing] to include queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, allies, and alternative identities (LGBTQQIAA), as well as expanding concepts that may fall under this umbrella term in the future.”

In its Health Framework (chapter 5, line 675) CDE reiterates that these gender identities are ever-changing to continue expanding in the future. In a 2018 letter to the federal government explaining California state policy, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson made it clear that students could self-certify or choose their own gender. “The assumption underlying California policy is that gender is a spectrum that is not necessarily linked to biological sex. State legislation allows all individuals, including students, to self-certify to their chosen gender category of male, female, or nonbinary . . . .” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “gender nonbinary” essentially as meaning endless gender categories: “Other terms to describe this identity include genderqueer, agender, bigender, gender creative, etc.”

The California Teachers Association adopted a policy (R-1 to R-2)  in January 2020 stating that, for the sake of “equity,” transgender students should be able to access hormone therapy without parental consent just as cisgender children may; in fact parental permission was called a “barrier.” The rationale behind this “civil rights” policy: (p. 81) inasmuch as birth control hormones can be obtained by cis genders (males and females identifying with their biological sex) without parent permission, therefore hormones to stop puberty, obtained by students who identify as other genders, also should be provided without parent permission.

As an Orthodox Jew, a member of the 1,500-member Rabbinical Alliance of America and Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the 2,000-member Coalition for Jewish Values, I stand with my rabbinic colleagues alongside Americans and clergy of other faiths — devout Catholics, Protestants of varying denominations, faithful Muslims, Hindus and others — who share family values similar to ours. Together, we oppose the erosion of parental rights, as well as the deceptions perpetuated through public education today.

My colleague Imam Mustafa Umar, president of California Islamic University, has asked: “When will we collectively say enough is enough?”

Sacramento and the local school boards must confer on parents the exclusive right to mentor their children on gender matters. If they do not, parents will begin to exit public schools in great numbers.

•••

Dov Fischer, Esq., is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at Coalition for Jewish Values, and an adjunct professor of law at two major Southern California law schools.

The opinions in this commentary are those of the author. If you would like to submit a commentary, please review our guidelines and contact us.

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  1. Salem 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    These are steps forward to help protect the rights of trans and non binary students. If your “traditional family values” don’t include loving and accepting your children for who they are, then I don’t what to tell you.

  2. Zeph Fox 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    I am a transgender student living in Utah. I was assigned female at birth and identify as male. The Mormon ideology surrounding me on a daily basis including at school made it hard for me to understand what was happening to me and what was wrong. I became depressed, and had panic attacks at least once a week. Eventually, on the first day of seventh grade, I had a teacher ask me what my name … Read More

    I am a transgender student living in Utah. I was assigned female at birth and identify as male. The Mormon ideology surrounding me on a daily basis including at school made it hard for me to understand what was happening to me and what was wrong. I became depressed, and had panic attacks at least once a week. Eventually, on the first day of seventh grade, I had a teacher ask me what my name and pronouns were. I said “Zeph, he/him/his” and that was a huge turning point for me. 7-8th grade was me experimenting with being transmasculine. “Yes, this fits” I told my parents that I was a boy, and they helped me transition through ninth grade. During the whole process my school was helpful and supportive. Now, I’m just a happier person because of the help and support I got from my school. This is my perspective on the issue, and if anyone would like to discuss this further with me, email me at robbiesmine@gmail.com. Just don’t be an arse.

  3. PINWHEEL ART 1 month ago1 month ago

    It has to stop. This new ideology pushed by industry is harmful to everyone.

  4. K 1 month ago1 month ago

    Thank you for this article. Parental rights are not just an issue for families of faith. I am a liberal person that is not particularly religious and our daughter’s school changed our daughter’s name and pronouns without informing us. When we found out, we did not know what to make of it. Never in a million years could we have imagined that our daughter who loved nothing better than dressing up as a princess and … Read More

    Thank you for this article. Parental rights are not just an issue for families of faith. I am a liberal person that is not particularly religious and our daughter’s school changed our daughter’s name and pronouns without informing us. When we found out, we did not know what to make of it. Never in a million years could we have imagined that our daughter who loved nothing better than dressing up as a princess and fawning over her baby brother could be a boy trapped in a girl’s body.

    Looking at her phone, we found out she was watching countless tiktok videos where influencers essentially promoted being trans. A year later, after falling out with her LGBT friend group (a group that she became a part of via what’s after switching schools the year of COVID and subsequently having no interactions with peers), our daughter is back to wearing dresses and using her girl name.

    We feel betrayed by the school although they did apologize for not informing us of what was going on.

  5. M 1 month ago1 month ago

    I largely object to myths being taught as facts. The idea of an internal gender identity is a myth. It is based on this myth that medical interventions for "trans children" are being justified. In both sociology and psychology it is recognized that children are not born with an internal sense of themselves. Their identity develops through learning and interaction. No child is born with an "internal gender … Read More

    I largely object to myths being taught as facts. The idea of an internal gender identity is a myth. It is based on this myth that medical interventions for “trans children” are being justified. In both sociology and psychology it is recognized that children are not born with an internal sense of themselves. Their identity develops through learning and interaction.

    No child is born with an “internal gender identity.” Gender is the word we use to describe the rules and social expectations that exist in a society as it relates to male and female behavior and roles. All children gradually come to understand how their friends, family, adults around them and society at large expects them to act as girls or boys. Some people reject these rules and expectations (this has happened for thousands of years), just like other people reject other social expectations. The trans movement is being promoted by powerful institutions that seek to make a profit on the medicalization of people who are rejecting the gender norms of their society.

  6. Araceli Justiniani 1 month ago1 month ago

    Thank you so much Rabbi Fischer and Ed Source for this powerful article. The sad truth of what is happening against our children and parents. This gender ideology is a complete confusion and abuse against the identity of our children, as an attack to the fabric of the family where now parents who disagree with the ideology are labeled as bigots. Who gave the power to the education system to do such atrocities? … Read More

    Thank you so much Rabbi Fischer and Ed Source for this powerful article. The sad truth of what is happening against our children and parents. This gender ideology is a complete confusion and abuse against the identity of our children, as an attack to the fabric of the family where now parents who disagree with the ideology are labeled as bigots.

    Who gave the power to the education system to do such atrocities? Parents, please defend your children!

  7. Elisa Fagundes 1 month ago1 month ago

    Excellent opinion article, Rabbi! Thank you for standing up for us parents! I am a practicing Catholic and I really appreciate this article. Thank you EdSource for publishing!!

  8. Brenda Lebsack - Teacher 1 month ago1 month ago

    As a teacher in a Title 1 District, I just attended a training today telling teachers that we could be charged with “sexual harassment” if we refuse to use a child’s chosen pronoun including gender fluid pronouns. The pronouns given to us were: he, she, they, zi, hir, xe, xem, xirs, this includes ANY and ALL pronouns. One curriculum resource referenced includes a preschool book that teaches children “TREE” can be their pronoun or they … Read More

    As a teacher in a Title 1 District, I just attended a training today telling teachers that we could be charged with “sexual harassment” if we refuse to use a child’s chosen pronoun including gender fluid pronouns. The pronouns given to us were: he, she, they, zi, hir, xe, xem, xirs, this includes ANY and ALL pronouns. One curriculum resource referenced includes a preschool book that teaches children “TREE” can be their pronoun or they can make up their own pronouns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQedEI6LrFA Teachers were told children can know their gender identity by age 3, and that gender fluidity is innate. Keep in mind, my school has books that tell kids gender can change like the weather and is based on their fluctuating feelings. Teachers were also told our job is to protect students from anyone who does not affirm them in these identities. this includes their parents.

    Teachers, I agree with Rabbi Fischer and Imam Mustafa. Enough is Enough! This is not inclusion, it is confusion and delusion. It is also deception to parents.

    Most people do not realize the insanity and extremism because it’s under the guise of “inclusion, kindness, diversity and suicide prevention.” According to the 2020 Sex Ed Standards Glossary, which is referenced in the Health Framework adopted by the state board of education in 2019, the word “transgender” is an umbrella term encompassing a LARGE NUMBER of identities (p.66) https://siecus.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/NSES-2020-2.pdf

    The 2020 Sex Ed Standards were written by Advocates For Youth which is funded by the Center of Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/partners/funded_ngos.htm I guess that’s why the CDC defines non-binary as “gender creative” since kids can now “make up” their own genders. So how can a “made up” gender be “innate”? Hmmmm……

    Teachers, we must practice what we preach and be critical thinkers. We cannot sacrifice common sense for extremist ideologies and group think.

  9. Amy E. Sousa 1 month ago1 month ago

    Safeguarding kids requires affirming material physical reality and a child's primary sense perceptions. When curriculum is introduced that forces kids to "affirm" the delusions of the kids around them or the teachers they work with this is a safeguarding failure. When kids are told they must deny the information that their eyes and ears are telling them about sex recognition, this dissociates them from their bodies and causes cognitive dissonance. It sets them up for … Read More

    Safeguarding kids requires affirming material physical reality and a child’s primary sense perceptions. When curriculum is introduced that forces kids to “affirm” the delusions of the kids around them or the teachers they work with this is a safeguarding failure. When kids are told they must deny the information that their eyes and ears are telling them about sex recognition, this dissociates them from their bodies and causes cognitive dissonance. It sets them up for further predation because it creates a situation where they don’t have authority to name their own perceptions of reality, they are taught they can’t trust what their eyes are telling them, they must deny reality to be “nice” to others. All this constitutes child grooming.

  10. AG 1 month ago1 month ago

    Thank you for shedding light on this topic. Parents and many educators do not realize what is being added to these subject frameworks.

  11. Shelly A. 1 month ago1 month ago

    I often times have to stop and think, "Is this really happening?" because it feels like we are living in the upside-down world. My children are students in the Bay Area and are exposed to constant propaganda and ideology on a daily basis at their public high school. However, they are a bit older, and I am grateful that as a family we have instilled our values in them. My kids have a … Read More

    I often times have to stop and think, “Is this really happening?” because it feels like we are living in the upside-down world. My children are students in the Bay Area and are exposed to constant propaganda and ideology on a daily basis at their public high school. However, they are a bit older, and I am grateful that as a family we have instilled our values in them. My kids have a solid foundation about who they are and what they believe in, so they are not swayed. I am deeply concerned that some students (especially elementary school children) are being exposed to this type of nonsense teaching at such young formative ages, and that parents have no rights in the decision making about what is in their own child’s best interests.

    I have attempted to pull my students out of our local public high school because they basically have to pretend to believe a certain way in order to get good grades on assignments, face backlash from their teachers or get outed on social media by their peers for being racist, trans hating, MAGA supporters. It’s disgraceful.

    Unfortunately, the waitlists of the private schools in my area are so long that there is no way my kids will ever get in for the remainder of their high school careers. As parents we need to stick together to protect our children and stay involved in their educations. Unfortunately, long gone are the days where we could trust what was being taught to them at school when we weren’t looking.

  12. Kylie Knight 1 month ago1 month ago

    Thank you, Rabbi Fisher, for having the courage to come forward to raise awareness. It boggles my mind with how extreme and backwards society has become. When kids have medical conditions or learning disabilities, the parents play an integral role in working with the school administration towards finding academic solutions in the classroom (e.g. special education). The moment "Gender Dysphoria" (GD), which is a medical condition, is mentioned, all bets are off. … Read More

    Thank you, Rabbi Fisher, for having the courage to come forward to raise awareness. It boggles my mind with how extreme and backwards society has become. When kids have medical conditions or learning disabilities, the parents play an integral role in working with the school administration towards finding academic solutions in the classroom (e.g. special education). The moment “Gender Dysphoria” (GD), which is a medical condition, is mentioned, all bets are off. In most cases, the parents are immediately the enemy and excluded from any discussion. Should the parents find out and ask questions, the Child Protective Services are called upon them.

    This setup makes no sense. GD is a medical condition. Wouldn’t it make more sense for medical experts to be handing such medical conditions vs. most school administrators who aren’t medically trained or qualified? Why is it that parents are allowed to be involved if their child has “anorexia nervosa,” compared to if their kid has GD? How have we allowed a medical condition to be treated as a civil right issue? If it’s truly the case that GD is a civil rights issue, then why are we seeing a growing number of diverse parents bonding together nationwide, regardless of their political affiliation, religious background (or there lack of), race or cultural background, LBGT friendly, socioeconomic background, and so forth to voice awareness and push back on these issues?

  13. Rina Davis 2 months ago2 months ago

    Some of the actions I have witnessed in schools regarding gender ideology sound unbelievable but are, sadly, true. In middle school my child had a classroom exercise which involved all students forming a circle. The students were asked about various aspects of their identity including: their religious beliefs [or lack thereof], their family's economic status, their sexual preferences, and yes, their gender identity. The students were instructed to step into the circle when they heard … Read More

    Some of the actions I have witnessed in schools regarding gender ideology sound unbelievable but are, sadly, true. In middle school my child had a classroom exercise which involved all students forming a circle. The students were asked about various aspects of their identity including: their religious beliefs [or lack thereof], their family’s economic status, their sexual preferences, and yes, their gender identity. The students were instructed to step into the circle when they heard any statements they felt applied to them e.g. “I am from a religious family”, “my family is upper-middle class” and of course “I identify as gay/bi/queer/trans/questioning etc.”

    Yes, really, this happened. When I complained to the school, they could not understand what I was upset about. They said the exercise had been taken from the “Circles” curriculum. If I could afford a private school, I would have withdrawn my child a long time ago.

  14. R. Hunter 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you for this article. In the 1990s I grew weary of the persistent attempts in some states to mandate teaching of creationism in public schools as an alternative theory to biological evolution. That, together with some similar issues, led me to register as a Democrat and begin party line voting, which I now very much regret. I am still a rational empiricist, non-theist. I strive to practice scientific thinking where it applies. I … Read More

    Thank you for this article.

    In the 1990s I grew weary of the persistent attempts in some states to mandate teaching of creationism in public schools as an alternative theory to biological evolution. That, together with some similar issues, led me to register as a Democrat and begin party line voting, which I now very much regret.

    I am still a rational empiricist, non-theist. I strive to practice scientific thinking where it applies. I believe public schools should teach accurate, reality based and useful knowledge that fosters the common good. There is an appropriate role for teaching ethics and values that promote good citizenship and social cohesiveness, but it is dangerous and hubristic to promote radical social change by injecting novel and untested theories into school curricula.

    Gender ideology is the most egregious of the new anti-scientific social activist theories to wash through California schools. It is no more empirically justified than creationism, but much more dangerous. Like creationism it asserts an over-simplistic explanation of phenomena that discourages further discovery and examination of its own flaws. Unlike creationism it attempts to overthrow common understanding that has persisted throughout human history, substituting a naive faith in the healthiness of radical behavioral variance and in adolescent self-understanding that alienates children from their families and healthy social relationships and leads to irreversible medical damage.

    Don’t be fooled, gender ideology is a faith, a new religion that campaigns in disguise as a human right (which cannot be questioned except by the wicked in spirit). Its only appropriate place in school curricula is as an intellectual curiosity to be critically examined in upper grades. Not as a fundamental truth to be indoctrinated in the lower grades, as it has (just) become.

    This atheist stands with the members of time-tested faith communities in calling for the removal of gender ideology from public schools and also the laws of California.

  15. Shirley Yuan 2 months ago2 months ago

    I was born and grew up in China. What is happening now in the US is very similar to the culture revolution in China in the 1960s: woke, cancel culture, identity, equality, ideology indoctrinated children against and isolated from family. It is saddening for me to run away from China and come to the US for the freedom and American dreams, but this land of freedom is not free anymore. Anyone who has doubts about … Read More

    I was born and grew up in China. What is happening now in the US is very similar to the culture revolution in China in the 1960s: woke, cancel culture, identity, equality, ideology indoctrinated children against and isolated from family. It is saddening for me to run away from China and come to the US for the freedom and American dreams, but this land of freedom is not free anymore. Anyone who has doubts about the skyrocketing rate of children, adolescents and young adults self diagnosed “transgenders,” and the immediate affirmation, and medicalize the youth without understanding the root cause analysis is silenced.

    The US government is like the big brother in the 1984 book, controls what the citizens should think and talk about gender dysphoria, and put a wedge between the vulnerable kids and parents. The government, the schools, the party, social service, etc believe they can be a better parent by taking the kids away from their families. Just like the communist party in China indoctrinates their people that the communist party is the loving mother of the Chinese people, and alway has the best interest of its people. The ridiculous lockdown in Shanghai now is the perfect love of the communist party to its people even though many people died from the lockdown. Think the US is better? Go check the detransition subtracts in Discord and Reddit and the numerous YouTube channels by detransitioners. Many more previous lives were permanently damaged!

  16. Sarah B. 2 months ago2 months ago

    All this gender questioning is a big social experiment, and our kids are in the middle of it. What exactly is the goal? For kids to obsess about their gender and pronouns every day of their life? For kids to think biology doesn’t exist?

    This is crazy stuff.

  17. Alix Aharon 2 months ago2 months ago

    The Rabbis article is very thought-provoking. In Israel, gender identity ideology has swept in to the public education system and media, many Jewish leaders and the Orthodox media are so averse to even saying anything public about, for example, the number of girls who identify as "boys". We're at a real crossroads with our children; just yesterday I saw Hadassah's women was holding a conference on transgenderism. I wonder if the Rabbi has thought about … Read More

    The Rabbis article is very thought-provoking. In Israel, gender identity ideology has swept in to the public education system and media, many Jewish leaders and the Orthodox media are so averse to even saying anything public about, for example, the number of girls who identify as “boys”. We’re at a real crossroads with our children; just yesterday I saw Hadassah’s women was holding a conference on transgenderism.

    I wonder if the Rabbi has thought about the effects this is even having in our own community?

  18. Stacey Layne 2 months ago2 months ago

    If it is true that “The assumption underlying California policy is that gender is a spectrum that is not necessarily linked to biological sex...” And if it’s always been that way. Then why do we suddenly need to modify biological sex with hormones and surgery or change our language around it. Also, if this is all in the name of “equity,” then outside of sex based rights, I’m curious how this innate feeling of gender … Read More

    If it is true that “The assumption underlying California policy is that gender is a spectrum that is not necessarily linked to biological sex…” And if it’s always been that way. Then why do we suddenly need to modify biological sex with hormones and surgery or change our language around it. Also, if this is all in the name of “equity,” then outside of sex based rights, I’m curious how this innate feeling of gender has ever been treated with inequality. And why are we focused on inequality of an innate feeling versus people who are actually suffering from poverty, etc.

    And if this is an innate feeling, how could it ever be taught in schools or handled in an objective way since the identity itself has no objective basis. Likewise since this is something a child holds true within themselves, how can you tell a parent that they are wrong for holding opposing beliefs within themselves. And furthermore, given that a parent has the context of their child’s entire life, why would we not trust that parent – an adult who is developmentally mature and less likely to succumb to magical thinking than their child?

    None of this makes sense when you break it down.

  19. Barbara Hale 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you for an excellent article. I’m shocked to see the indoctrination that is happening in our schools — both public and private. I hope you will continue to spread the word on this important issue.

  20. francis reed 2 months ago2 months ago

    Deeply concerned that the ideology contradicts culture values held by many families within Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Christian communites.

  21. MotherofMany 2 months ago2 months ago

    I would caution parents from sending their children to schools that dismiss parents and their God given right to parent, ,monitor and rear their children-even if that means it disagrees with the Left. Children in Oakland and other low income areas don't need woke culture, when they can't read. This further widens the equity gaps. Children know more about sex and sexuality than they do sight words. As a Muslim parent, I don't agree with … Read More

    I would caution parents from sending their children to schools that dismiss parents and their God given right to parent, ,monitor and rear their children-even if that means it disagrees with the Left. Children in Oakland and other low income areas don’t need woke culture, when they can’t read. This further widens the equity gaps. Children know more about sex and sexuality than they do sight words.

    As a Muslim parent, I don’t agree with most of this content. It is my responsibility to teach my children about sex or other life issues (according to my faith, that’s my right), it is the responsibility of schools to teach all children how to read and learn. I homeschool because of the overreach of public schools. Most parents should do the same.

  22. Gigi LaRue 2 months ago2 months ago

    I am writing to you on behalf of several parents in your state who are struggling with an aspect of the current sex Ed curriculum being taught in our public schools. We take issue with the requirement to teach about gender identity in school. Gender Ideology is something people are free to believe, but it’s being taught as if it were fact. It’s a belief system. This is surprising because it is illegal to teach … Read More

    I am writing to you on behalf of several parents in your state who are struggling with an aspect of the current sex Ed curriculum being taught in our public schools. We take issue with the requirement to teach about gender identity in school. Gender Ideology is something people are free to believe, but it’s being taught as if it were fact. It’s a belief system. This is surprising because it is illegal to teach belief systems/religious doctrine in public schools.

    Additionally, the law states that “Each school district shall ensure all pupils in grades 7 to 12 receive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education from trained instructors. Each student shall receive instruction at least once in junior high school or middle school and at least once in high school. The information must be age-appropriate, medically accurate and objective. A school district that elects to offer comprehensive sex education earlier than grade seven may provide age-appropriate and medically accurate information.”Teaching a belief system is not objective or medically accurate.

    An example of a part of a lesson Kindergarteners are taught: “There are some body parts that mostly just girls have and some parts that mostly just boys have …”

    This conversation continues yearly until 7th: “Explain to the class that they are going to be put into small groups to complete a worksheet on the sexual and reproductive systems for people who were born with certain body parts and assigned “female” at birth. Referring to people with particular body parts (such as “a person with a vulva”) will create a more inclusive classroom than “female anatomy.” Explain to the class that just as they went through the female sexual and reproductive systems during the last class, today they are going to go through the male sexual and reproductive systems for people who were born with certain body parts an assigned “male” at birth.”

    In High school it gets worse. In Northern California, they are asking high school students, among other things, to rate how comfortable they are with anal sex. See image 13 on this document.

    The other unintentional side effect of teaching gender ideology to children is that they take it literally, which would account for the enormous rise in trans identified/ non binary kids. I have one and I can tell you, it is 100% a social phenomenon. She has no history of it in childhood and is likely same sex attracted and trying to manage those feelings by adopting a new identity. Abigail Shrier wrote a book about it called Irreversible Damage. It is happening all over the world.

    I would not care – they go through phases – except the pressure to be “trans” with binding, hormones and surgery is immense. I have 20 psychologists who have never met her that will give her a letter to get a double mastectomy in a one hour phone call/zoom. She is 16 and in 2 years can go to Planned Parenthood and get Testosterone in 30 minutes with informed consent. She still can’t decide what to order for dessert, how can she possibly be responsible for decisions about irreversible medical interventions?

    There is a lot more to tell, and I would like to request a meeting to discuss this growing problem in our state.

  23. Lee Grizzly 2 months ago2 months ago

    With 2 children currently in the CA K-12 public school system, we have never been more confused, irate, bewildered as to what is being injected into our children's minds and belief system. My 12 year old son came home from his first day of school (in August) to ask us “mom, dad, what should my pronoun be?” Oh my. And since that teacher decided to make it a point (and place the pronouns … Read More

    With 2 children currently in the CA K-12 public school system, we have never been more confused, irate, bewildered as to what is being injected into our children’s minds and belief system. My 12 year old son came home from his first day of school (in August) to ask us “mom, dad, what should my pronoun be?” Oh my. And since that teacher decided to make it a point (and place the pronouns on their nametags!), it has led to several classmates actually changing their names … and pronouns.

    All of this is happening – none of the parents were/are aware even to this day. Where are the safety protections for our very young, naive (unknowing of anything trans!) children? I do not recall voting to allow our public school system to promote trans ideologies to students. What has happened these past years is extremely disheartening and sad; especially sad for our youngest population that knows so little.

  24. joey brite 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you Rabbi Fischer for this thoughtful article. As a lifelong activist in the rights of women & safeguarding of children, the indoctrination of gender identity ideology in all its forms (CRT inc) must be kept out of schools. Parents should always retain the right to raise their children according to their faith or even w/ no faith in any higher power at all. I believe that people of any belief are in solidarity when … Read More

    Thank you Rabbi Fischer for this thoughtful article. As a lifelong activist in the rights of women & safeguarding of children, the indoctrination of gender identity ideology in all its forms (CRT inc) must be kept out of schools. Parents should always retain the right to raise their children according to their faith or even w/ no faith in any higher power at all.

    I believe that people of any belief are in solidarity when it comes to the idea of family being the foremost necessary foundation for the strongest and most healthy development for children.

  25. Erin friday 2 months ago2 months ago

    Teachers should not be instructing students on any unscientific rhetoric. Let parents parent, teach fact not belief systems. Gender ideology is not scientific and the number of kids getting harmed continues to climb. Lawsuits have been filed and more will come. Parents teach morality. Teachers teach math.

  26. Charlie Jacobs 2 months ago2 months ago

    As a parent of a child who was influenced to become “trans-identifying” after comprehensive sex course, I can attest that schools are incubators for gender confusion. 4 of my daughter’s friend also came out as something right after the course. 7/16 girl scouts came out too. Social contagion perpetrated in school.

  27. Annie Smith 2 months ago2 months ago

    It is irrepsonsible to say that transgender students should be able to access hormone therapy without parental consent. Everyone knows that brain won't mature until 25 years old. There is law to regulate that people cannot drink under a certain age, cannot gamble under a certain age, it just does not make sense to let minors ever young adults under 25 years old to make the life changing decision. Most of these … Read More

    It is irrepsonsible to say that transgender students should be able to access hormone therapy without parental consent. Everyone knows that brain won’t mature until 25 years old. There is law to regulate that people cannot drink under a certain age, cannot gamble under a certain age, it just does not make sense to let minors ever young adults under 25 years old to make the life changing decision. Most of these transgender kids have underlying mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. People should take care of their kids’ mental health issues prior to taking any drastic actions.

  28. Claire 2 months ago2 months ago

    Great article. Gender ideology has no place in schools just as religious teaching is not allowed in public schools. I’m not religious but I also don’t believe in gender ideology so why do my beliefs not count? Parents send their children to religious schools if that’s what their family wants, but they have no say in whether they want gender religion taught to their kids. There is something not right about this. It’s very scary … Read More

    Great article. Gender ideology has no place in schools just as religious teaching is not allowed in public schools. I’m not religious but I also don’t believe in gender ideology so why do my beliefs not count? Parents send their children to religious schools if that’s what their family wants, but they have no say in whether they want gender religion taught to their kids. There is something not right about this.

    It’s very scary that children are told to keep secrets from their own parents. That breaks down the family structure and is very harmful to vulnerable children.

  29. Joanne Chicago 2 months ago2 months ago

    Schools should not be teaching theories about gender as if they are fact, or changing pronouns for young people without getting the ok from the parents. It is not a harmless intervention, it is a response to gender dysphoria which appears to make gender dysphoria persist (for young people, if they are not socially treated as the opposite sex, they tended, in the past, to reconcile with their bodies as they went through puberty). … Read More

    Schools should not be teaching theories about gender as if they are fact, or changing pronouns for young people without getting the ok from the parents. It is not a harmless intervention, it is a response to gender dysphoria which appears to make gender dysphoria persist (for young people, if they are not socially treated as the opposite sex, they tended, in the past, to reconcile with their bodies as they went through puberty). If gender dysphoria persists through puberty, the young people tend to (at least in the US) then be encouraged to change their bodies irreversibly, even though the evidence that this is the best intervention is lacking. Even when they are minors. And when they are too young to smoke or drink, but over 18, they can already get surgeries on their sex organs.

    I’m not saying trans people don’t exist, I’m saying that people who feel gender dysphoria sometimes only feel it for a while, and doctors risk medicalizing a temporary condition, in a way that affects fertility, sometimes destroying it entirely. In young people. There is a great review by Levine et al, 2022, “Reconsidering Informed Consent”, which just appeared, which summarizes what is known about this condition. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0092623X.2022.2046221
    There is a lot of misinformation going around, some of which is even making it into the schools and being taught to kids!

    People of faith, and people of no faith, all have reason to be worried. Thank you for this essay!

  30. Samuel Alfred 2 months ago2 months ago

    The teachers’ union needs a refresher in child development and psychology. Anyone who believes children should access cross sex hormones without parental consent or even knowledge should not be educating children.

  31. Laurie 2 months ago2 months ago

    Gender ideology is just an unproven ideology, or philosophical idea based on subjective feelings, not facts. Human sex is binary and immutable, based on biological facts, and there is no third human sex. Gender is how one feels and acts, a personality. Children who do not conform to gender stereotypes of masculinity and femininity are not the opposite sex. Schools should teach acceptance of everyone's individuality, and that there is no wrong or right way … Read More

    Gender ideology is just an unproven ideology, or philosophical idea based on subjective feelings, not facts. Human sex is binary and immutable, based on biological facts, and there is no third human sex. Gender is how one feels and acts, a personality. Children who do not conform to gender stereotypes of masculinity and femininity are not the opposite sex.

    Schools should teach acceptance of everyone’s individuality, and that there is no wrong or right way to be a male or female. School should teach the facts of biology that sex is binary and immutable. No child should be given any drugs without their parents’ knowledge, and in my opinion, no child or adolescent should be sterilized and have their sexual function taken away through the administration of puberty blocking drugs, wrong sex hormones, and surgical removal of healthy body parts.

    A person does not need birth control hormones until after puberty, when sexual function has been achieved, and they do not cause permanent sterilization. It is time to say enough is enough, stop schools from teaching a false, damaging, ideology, that confuses binary sex with gender expression.

  32. Tru Win 2 months ago2 months ago

    Schools should not be teaching gender identity or sexual orientation to kids. This approach has damaged so many families and has negatively kids’ mental health and in some destroyed their bodies and lives. Kids are not only enough to make life altering decisions as their brain is not fully developed. This madness needs to stop before more kids are hurt and families destroyed.

  33. Stan Helton 2 months ago2 months ago

    I am a lifelong liberal Democrat and atheist and I am every bit as alarmed about the proselytizing of “Gender Ideology” in schools as every person of faith.

    It is fundamentally an anti-science belief system that has no place in education.

    The spread of this harmful ideology has caused me to regret the decision to raise my kids outside of a faith-based community.

  34. Marie 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you Rabbi Fischer for this great article. The indoctrination of gender ideology must be kept out of schools. Parents have a right to raise their children according to their faith or no faith at all. Children being told that they can keep secrets from their parents is dangerous and victimizing to kids who need their parents’ support. We support the parents and teachers who are fighting against this madness. Indeed, we need to say enough … Read More

    Thank you Rabbi Fischer for this great article. The indoctrination of gender ideology must be kept out of schools. Parents have a right to raise their children according to their faith or no faith at all.

    Children being told that they can keep secrets from their parents is dangerous and victimizing to kids who need their parents’ support. We support the parents and teachers who are fighting against this madness. Indeed, we need to say enough is enough! Parents are getting tired of this hijacking of their children and are pulling them out of the public schools in droves. Get the activists out of the schools! Give parents the right to raise their children according to their values. Here are some resources for parents, teachers and guidance counselors. https://genspect.org/guidance/

  35. Kate Breslin 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you, Rabbi, for saying out loud what parents, religious organizations and even atheists are not allowed to say. I am in the vortex with a child who was sucked into it and the school never even bothered to tell us. We found out purely by accident. When schools disrespect and disconnect parents from their children’s education, the very fabric of the family unit is being destroyed and society will suffer. Enough is enough!!

  36. Elliot Swimmer 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you, Rabbi Fischer. Schools have become ground zero for indoctrinating children (K-12) into what can easily be described as a cult, with its required mantras and doctrines, and its penchant for isolating confused children from their desperate families. As a parent trapped in this nightmare witnessing my vulnerable child getting sucked ever deeper, I worry about our young people and the massive damage that is being done. The number of detransitioners — those who … Read More

    Thank you, Rabbi Fischer. Schools have become ground zero for indoctrinating children (K-12) into what can easily be described as a cult, with its required mantras and doctrines, and its penchant for isolating confused children from their desperate families. As a parent trapped in this nightmare witnessing my vulnerable child getting sucked ever deeper, I worry about our young people and the massive damage that is being done. The number of detransitioners — those who regret the medicalization of their gender identity — is rising and common sense tells us this trend will continue (detrans Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/detrans/) now has 29,100 members, up from 25,600 in February). The threat of suicide is routinely used as emotional blackmail, yet no other mental health issue is treated by following the demands of an adolescent based on self diagnosis.

    Studies show that suicidality is terribly high following medical transition, but this information is never shared. I am frankly dismayed as public education embraces an ideology that promotes the use of experimental protocols and surgery for teens who clearly cannot comprehend what they’re sacrificing at a time when the brain is far from fully developed and they are at a stage known for high risk-taking and the lack of ability to understand future consequences.

    I expected so much more in terms of a precautionary approach to the medical care of young people. Doctors are sterilizing young males (estrogen can sterilize a male child within a few months), and girls as young as 13 are getting mastectomies in California. All based on the concept of gender — an internal sense that no one outside of the person can know, for which there are no medical tests, and which may change over time.

    Gender ideology is a belief. It is its own religion. It has no place in public school. Children are being harmed. Families are being destroyed. Parents are being coerced into consenting to the sterilization of their children — many of whom are on the autism spectrum and/or have longstanding mental health problems. We need teachers and community leaders to start standing up for what is so obvious to anyone who takes the time to research the issue — this medical pathway is not appropriate for young people just at the beginning stages of figuring themselves out, and suggesting to younger children that they should anticipate and accept surgery and a lifetime of medication to “correct” themselves is grossly unethical. There is simply too much to lose by being complicit. Please go to Genspect.org or read the parent stories on https://pitt.substack.com/

  37. Lisa Disbrow 2 months ago2 months ago

    How have public education decision makers rejected the concerns and priorities of the tax paying citizens (aka the public) from their local school boards, county school boards, state assembly and senate via laws and policies injecting new, never before examined, evaluated content into our TK- 12th grade students lives. I have never seen a ballot proposition where I could voice my support or opposition to the cultural transformation agendas labeled; Social Emotional Learning (SEL), … Read More

    How have public education decision makers rejected the concerns and priorities of the tax paying citizens (aka the public) from their local school boards, county school boards, state assembly and senate via laws and policies injecting new, never before examined, evaluated content into our TK- 12th grade students lives.

    I have never seen a ballot proposition where I could voice my support or opposition to the cultural transformation agendas labeled; Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Social Justice, Culturally Responsive Discipline, Grading, Instruction, Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CST) or ideas that some people groups are fragile and some are not.

    In my experience parents and citizens agreed the purpose of our schools was to build knowledge, understanding, and skills in reading, writing, science, math, history, music, and art. The industrial leading nations of the world still teach and prioritize these subjects.

    In my experience parents agreed that these subjects would benefit every child and each child should master these in order to receive a high school graduation diploma.

    In my experience families shared their personal views on current events, their families history, faith, priorities and values with their children who they would love, protect and guide until death parted them.
    Schools were limited to specific expectations . Schools honored the authority of the family as the foundation for each child. Schools have transformed themselves. Schools now deceive, ignore and usurp parents authority.

    Sadly our schools reject the common expectations of the public and impose on students, parents, staff and citizens their new job descriptions as transformers, global change agents for a new world order the public never asked for, elected nor is interested in participating in as we see the rush out of CA, the increase in homeschooling and private schools like never before.

    In the book Born Ready, The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope by Jodie Patterson, found in TK-2nd grade classrooms schools are planting ideas and subject matter the public has never requested nor authorized them to teach. Education is now teaching their religion, their gospel in their classrooms paid for by our dollars into our children.

    Parents of different faiths and non- religious parents and citizens recognize the transformation of education as a threat to family stability, unity and freedom. The idiom, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” will never abandon their children to the transformation elites.

  38. Daniel Berman 2 months ago2 months ago

    Religious prejudice has no place in our public schools. This article is mostly a long list of words or concepts that the author finds unsettling, with no clear solution presented. Does the author want schools to pretend LGBTQ people, including students, teachers, and parents, don't exist? Should they not be allowed to have clubs or meetings? Should they be forced to pretend to meet your preferred categories and pronouns against their will? … Read More

    Religious prejudice has no place in our public schools. This article is mostly a long list of words or concepts that the author finds unsettling, with no clear solution presented. Does the author want schools to pretend LGBTQ people, including students, teachers, and parents, don’t exist? Should they not be allowed to have clubs or meetings? Should they be forced to pretend to meet your preferred categories and pronouns against their will?

    Public Schools are not preventing you from instructing your children as you wish at home, church, or temple, but at school they should teach all children the reality that gender and biological sex are different things, that some people are gay, transgender, or don’t identify as male or female, and that prejudice and discrimination against people for their innate traits is wrong.

    All of us must reconcile the faith teachings we were born into with the world as it is – I hope you will love and accept your children, and all children, as equally worthy and (if you believe) Children of the Creator, whether they are gay, transgender, or not.

    Replies

    • Chris Stampolis 1 month ago1 month ago

      Daniel, your comment is one of the only non-reactionary comments to this column. EdSource hardly ever gets comments about education-related issues such as the achievement gap, heterogenous/homogenous academic groupings, the value of SAT/ACT or the celebration that Latina students now are the largest cohort of CSU enrollees. But, wow, a column about what name a high schooler chooses or what pronouns that student prefers and there are more than 40 comments. There have been … Read More

      Daniel, your comment is one of the only non-reactionary comments to this column. EdSource hardly ever gets comments about education-related issues such as the achievement gap, heterogenous/homogenous academic groupings, the value of SAT/ACT or the celebration that Latina students now are the largest cohort of CSU enrollees. But, wow, a column about what name a high schooler chooses or what pronouns that student prefers and there are more than 40 comments.

      There have been homosexual people in this planet since people existed. What I care about is math proficiency, language proficiency and career options/readiness. Some kid with purple hair and eight nose rings might have more AP exam passages than a heteronormative kid. In contrast a heteronormative kid might earn class valedictorian.

      If the next leading astrophysicist is not sure about their gender identity or amorous attraction, show some sympathy and encourage more academic learning. Name tags with pronouns take hardly any time of the school day. The real issues are how classwork is presented and whether there is academic accountability for students, teachers, administrators and parents. The periodic table is the same for all people regardless of how they dress, dance or love.

      I have a Master’s Degree in Catechetics/Pastoral Ministries. My kids and family members participate at Catholic Mass regularly. I don’t have any objection to my children experiencing the “real world” of God’s diversity. It is my job to make sure they are exposed to the religious traditions that I choose to teach at home and at “church.”. Kindness goes a long way to foster confidence and peace.

      Exhausting,
      Chris Stampolis
      Santa Clara

  39. Larry Sand 2 months ago2 months ago

    It’s bad enough that school districts have gotten into the sex biz. But at the least, parents must be informed about just what their child’s school is teaching in this area. As more parents learn about what is really being taught, they will indeed “begin to exit public schools in great numbers.” https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2022/03/school-transparency-wars-larry-sand/

  40. Darlene 2 months ago2 months ago

    Hello, thank you Rabbi for speaking for so many of us parents. What is called “equity” is beyond the scope of what should be allowed in public education. I want to be able to send my children to be educated and not to be misguided. I consider myself an average American who is now being thrown into a very confusing ideological discussion. I’m just an average person who does not want my children to … Read More

    Hello, thank you Rabbi for speaking for so many of us parents. What is called “equity” is beyond the scope of what should be allowed in public education. I want to be able to send my children to be educated and not to be misguided.

    I consider myself an average American who is now being thrown into a very confusing ideological discussion. I’m just an average person who does not want my children to be indoctrinated into the idea that there’s more than male and female. Those who are confused by their sex can go to an organization to talk to about that, but don’t expose my children to that confusion, as they are not currently confused about who they are.

    I’m really not sure how this whole nonsense began and why our government would even force this discussion and a illogical viewpoint upon my children. Currently, we have a minority, a very small minority that is forcing everyone else to take on this absurd language.

    How did one’s sex become “nonbinary?”. Rather than forcing this language upon every child in a traditional school, it makes more sense to have organizations that those who are confused about their sex can go to? Right now, it feels like my children are being forced to be indoctrinated into something I find very illogical.

  41. Laura Haynes, Ph.D. 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you, Rabbi Fisher, for giving voice to the many teachers and millions of California parents and families who are feeling disenfranchised by California representatives and educators. We need to vote for better representation, parents’ rights, transparency in education, and school choice.

  42. Joe Campbell 2 months ago2 months ago

    There has to be a way to make school work for families of the devout and also make school work for the adults who show up every day to care for the children. Because it is actually disrespectful to call someone a name they do not wish to be called. And teachers have to get along with their students in order for learning to occur. In my opinion, the devout should focus on how public instruction … Read More

    There has to be a way to make school work for families of the devout and also make school work for the adults who show up every day to care for the children. Because it is actually disrespectful to call someone a name they do not wish to be called. And teachers have to get along with their students in order for learning to occur.

    In my opinion, the devout should focus on how public instruction can nurture their children’s spirit. Not about how public instruction contradicts their beliefs.

    If children learn something at school (or anywhere in the great big world) that contradicts a family or religious belief, it’s up to the man of the house to be an authority and teach the proper learning and correct the child, hopefully in an authoritative manner and not by using violence.

    To expect children to only learn things at a school that do not conflict with your narrow viewpoint is unrealistic.

    Replies

    • Rabbi Dov Fischer 2 months ago2 months ago

      I agree that public schools should not be compelled to create a curriculum that makes non-devout people uncomfortable either. The challenge I advocate is an approach that respects all views. Thereafter, the fine-tuning can be done by parents at home.

      • Joe Campbell 2 months ago2 months ago

        I think Public Instruction is really failing to nurture children's spirits, and as a result mental illness is increasing in childhood. Every child regardless of their families traditions and beliefs, needs their spirit nurtured. Far too often public school is a place where spirits are crushed. I think the devout could really help advocate and become leaders in this issue, if they can transcend their dogma and advocate for universal spiritual values, like loving neighbors … Read More

        I think Public Instruction is really failing to nurture children’s spirits, and as a result mental illness is increasing in childhood. Every child regardless of their families traditions and beliefs, needs their spirit nurtured. Far too often public school is a place where spirits are crushed.

        I think the devout could really help advocate and become leaders in this issue, if they can transcend their dogma and advocate for universal spiritual values, like loving neighbors and forgiveness, that would be good. I am rooting for you and your kids BTW!

  43. Kelly Felton 2 months ago2 months ago

    Families should be able to have their children experience their culture, religion, and beliefs until the age of 18. Schools should always offer an opt-out option, and be more transparent when it comes to all curriculum.

  44. tomm 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thank you to the authors for writing this, thank you to EdSource for publishing it. More discussion not less Twitter people.

    I have three kids, K-12, and in my opinion there needs to be age appropriate limits on what kids are exposed to and full disclosure to parents. We put age appropriate limits on all sorts of things from movies to alcohol and tobacco and for sound reasons.

  45. Susan Ratliff 2 months ago2 months ago

    Well written. Thank you ed source for allowing public discourse.

  46. Michael Alan 2 months ago2 months ago

    Hear Hear!

  47. Sarah 2 months ago2 months ago

    Live and let live. Public schools are for everyone, thus attempts made to be inclusive of all beliefs and identity labels (e.g. gender, religion, race, etc.). Don't impose the choices you have made for your own life on others by limiting the inclusive policies and practices of a public education. Instead have a discussion with your child about your beliefs, why they are important to you, and how they may be important to them both … Read More

    Live and let live. Public schools are for everyone, thus attempts made to be inclusive of all beliefs and identity labels (e.g. gender, religion, race, etc.). Don’t impose the choices you have made for your own life on others by limiting the inclusive policies and practices of a public education. Instead have a discussion with your child about your beliefs, why they are important to you, and how they may be important to them both at home and outside home, such as at school.

    Replies

    • Mercedes Van Wyk 2 months ago2 months ago

      It’s not live and let live when schools actively conspire to influence gender on an impressionable child.

    • Eleanor 2 months ago2 months ago

      Well said, Sarah. Sadly, a very loud minority of people want to live in some sort of version of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

  48. Eleanor 2 months ago2 months ago

    Sad that EdSource would choose to post such drivel.

    Replies

    • Rabbi Dov Fischer 2 months ago2 months ago

      When you post a response like that to a carefully researched and sourced opinion article that clearly has generated many comments of agreement, you miss an opportunity to persuade. Your comment does not offend me. Rather, I regret a missed opportunity to hear and possibly learn from your contrasting view.