Students as young as kindergarten can identify as transgender and be taught about it, says suburban Kansas City school official

Tyrone Bates, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion coordinator at Shawnee Mission School District (pictured right) | via Twitter.

The youngest public school children should be taught all about gender identity if they’ve heard anything at all about the topic, and teachers should welcome students as young as kindergarten who are identifying as transgender.

That’s according to Tyrone Bates, Shawnee Mission School District’s first ever Diversity, Equity & Inclusion coordinator. A video excerpt of a presentation he gave on the subject has raised eyebrows and dropped jaws since it began circulating this week on social media, including nationally.

“When they’ve been exposed to information, they’re ready to learn about it, whether you think they are or not,” Bates said in the video. “And the research says there is no age too young to talk about pretty much anything. If they know about it, they’re ready to learn about it.”

Bates says there is no such thing as age-inappropriate material if kids have already heard about a subject – adding that they probably will learn about it on social media. 

“If they haven’t been exposed to it, then, yeah, you can give them time to develop,” he said in his presentation. “I know some kindergarteners in this school with cell phones. Mine had a cell phone. They get access to information. They can learn quickly. The world is teaching them faster than probably you are.”

Bates, who was paid $103,332 by the district in 2020, raised the question of how to communicate with parents on LGBTQ+ issues, “because there are students as early as kindergarten who are identifying as non-gender-conforming, non-binary, that are transgender.

“Because they’re in our school, they’re in our classrooms, then that becomes a responsibility on the adults to say, ‘OK, I have a student who identifies this way, and so it’s my responsibility to make sure the classroom is inviting to them. Just like it is to someone who might be Asian, Laotian, Korean, African – whatever the identity is.”

The video, about a minute and a half in length, appears to be from a presentation to Trailwood Elementary School’s PTA in Overland Park, Kansas.

David Smith, a spokesperson for the Shawnee Mission district, said in an email to The Lion that it tries to work with parents to create a sense of belonging for all students. But when asked if the district stands behind Bates’ controversial comments on sex and gender instruction as early as kindergarten, the spokesperson wrote, “I couldn’t begin to respond to that until I understand the broader context” of Bates’ presentation.

“I suspect that the reason the clip is the length that it is, is precisely because the poster did not want to present that broader context,” Smith wrote.

Steven Crowder, host of the national Louder with Crowder podcast, took note of the video and took issue with it.

In the Shawnee Mission school district, Crowder retorted, “teachers believe it is their responsibility to teach your children about gender and sexuality because, hey, they have cell phones.

“There is no child identifying as anything. They don’t understand what any of it means. You can ask a child what it means to be a boy, and he’ll say something about how he likes Spiderman or something equally superficial. They don’t have any concept of their gender or anyone’s gender, for that matter.

“Sexuality and gender theory nonsense are perfect examples of topics young children, especially kindergartners, are not equipped to learn about. It serves only to confuse and destabilize them.”

KCMO radio host Pete Mundo, who tweeted the video, said callers Wednesday were shocked, especially after repeated and vociferous pronouncements that such things aren’t being taught in Kansas City-area schools. Then, he said, when there’s proof of it like this video – and of a school in North Kansas City that featured a gender identity project in a 3rd-grade classroom – the response is that you’re a bigot for opposing it.

You’re not, Mundo told The Lion.

“They just don’t want 5-year-olds being taught about it,” he said of opponents to the sexualization of young children in schools.

“It doesn’t matter the gender or the sexual orientation,” agreed one of his callers Wednesday. “That should not be taught to kids.”

“First off,” Mundo points out, “how are you at 5 years old even capable of coming to that conclusion? There’s just nothing to back that up. Secondarily, that is in no way a justification for pushing gender theory and ideology onto 5-year-olds across the Shawnee Mission School District. That’s absolutely crazy.

“Anyone who’s raised a child knows that. This is wildly dangerous stuff.”