Parents object to Virginia county confusing 5-year-olds with ‘gender spectrum’

(The Daily Signal) – A Northern Virginia school board will vote Thursday on a proposal to add lessons on the “gender spectrum” to elementary school curriculum – despite opposition from a…

(The Daily Signal) – A Northern Virginia school board will vote Thursday on a proposal to add lessons on the “gender spectrum” to elementary school curriculum – despite opposition from a majority of parents and community members.

The Fairfax County School Board reviewed recommendations from the 2022-2023 Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee that it had not yet acted on. That included a proposal to add instruction on the so-called gender spectrum at the elementary school level and “a more inclusive curriculum overall.”

“The exclusion of gender identify at the elementary level does not create an environment that is open and accepting of all students or provide a safe space for students to learn about themselves and others,” the recommendation reads. “Students who do not ‘see’ themselves in the curriculum do not feel valued and may feel that there is something wrong with them or they are being dismissed.”

Fairfax County Public Schools also proposed teaching kindergartners about families with “two moms” or “two dads.”

“This recommendation broadens examples of family structures to be more inclusive of the many different families in our schools,” the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee recommendations say.

The district proposed teaching 10th graders to “recognize the development of sexuality and gender as aspects of one’s total personality.”

“Why is there such an obsession in K-12 schools to waste hours on discussing issues that have nothing to do with academics?” senior adviser for Parents Defending Education Michele Exner asked.

“Schools are still lagging behind because of [COVID-19] closures, and Fairfax County was one of the slowest school districts to reopen,” Exner, a mother of two and a Fairfax County resident, told The Daily Signal. “It is unconscionable that the School Board continues to push social and political topics instead of focusing on children’s core educational needs.”

Most parents and community member do not support adding lessons on gender identity in elementary schools, the district admitted in a summary of the comments submitted.

The Family Life Committee conducted a community review of the proposed changes from May 10 to June 10. More than half of the 2,539 people who commented were local parents of students in Fairfax County schools. Other respondents included community members, school staffers, and students.

Parents shared concerns about lessons on gender identity not being age-appropriate for elementary schoolers, and expressed the belief that they should be the primary educators of their children on such topics, according to the district’s summary of comments.

Some parents said they were afraid that lessons on the so-called gender spectrum would confuse their children and cause misunderstandings.

“Instruction should focus on facts about sexual development and limit instruction on sexual-orientation and gender-identity terms,” said one of the surveyed residents of Fairfax County, located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. “Gender identity and gender spectrum are not needed in elementary school.”

Many community members called on the school district to focus on improving academics instead of focusing on the Family Life Education Curriculum.

“Trying to normalize ideas like ‘gender is a spectrum,’ and ‘not everyone has a gender,’ is harming many of our kids and society,” another respondent said.

The changes to the Family Life Education Curriculum focus on sexualizing children, rather than family or education, Katie Gorka, chair of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, told The Daily Signal.

“They introduce mature sexual ideas at too young an age and push transgender ideology, which is deeply destructive to children,” she said. “The Fairfax County School Board needs to listen to Fairfax parents and put their radical ideology to the side.”

Fairfax County spokeswoman Julie Allen told The Daily Signal that parents can opt their children out of the Family Life Education Curriculum.

“If you wish to opt your child out of all or some of the Family Life Education lessons, please complete this form and return it to your child’s classroom teacher prior to FLE instruction,” a message on the school district’s website reads.

Virginia law requires schools to notify parents when instructional material contains “sexually explicit content” and allow parents to opt into non-explicit material. 

The proposals under consideration have no neutral educational benefits, said Gorka of the Fairfax GOP.

“What the School Board is proposing is obviously a part of the broader, politically motivated move to indoctrinate America’s children and to insert radical sexual ideology into our classrooms,” she said.

Fairfax County mom of three Stephanie Lundquist-Arora said she is most concerned about the district’s “obsession with pushing early exposure to age-inappropriate and otherwise controversial topics.”

“What is their hurry to introduce young children to these issues and why are they so insistent on doing so despite substantial community and parental opposition?” she wonders. “The consideration of these absurd recommendations also raises larger questions about the purpose of public schools and demonstrates how far they’ve strayed from their actual mission in Fairfax County.”

Editor’s note: The name of one of the people cited in this article was misspelled. We regret the error.