“School, Transgender, and Your Kids”

Categories: M. W. Bassford, Meditations

These days, it seems like many Christians are preoccupied with coronavirus conspiracies of various sorts.  I have little to say about all that, except to observe that the conspiracy theorists must have much more faith in the competence of the human race than I do.  I think, though, that we would be better served to pay less attention to the conspiracies and more attention to the daily efforts of those who are opposed to the cause of Christ.

Take, for instance, this report from the Alliance Defending Freedom.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the ADF, it’s a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of conservative legal causes.  It is a serious organization with serious deep pockets and serious lawyers.  When the ADF says something, it’s not on the same level as  This really is happening.

Essentially, a number of conservative parents who live in Madison, WI have filed suit against the Madison public-school district.  They learned that the district has been engaged in a stealthy campaign to promote transgender ideology.  From kindergarten on up, students are being taught that gender is a spectrum, rather than being biological and binary.  Parents have not been notified about this.  If a child decides that they are transgender, school employees are to help them transition without parental notice or consent.  In order to make sure that Mom and Dad remain in the dark in such cases, district policy is to refer to transitioned Janey as un-transitioned Johnny in all communications with the home—to deceive parents.

In short, the Madison school district is attempting to substitute school input for parental input in one of the most consequential moral decisions a child can make.  A month ago, I wrote about Harvard professor Elizabeth Bartholet’s desire to outlaw homeschooling.  Among other things, she argued that public schooling was necessary to expose children to “ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”  Thanks to the Madison Metropolitan School District, we’ve got a concrete example of what such exposure looks like in practice.

Now, I don’t think this is likely to be a problem in rural middle Tennessee, where I live.  There are many other places around the country where school districts also haven’t bought into progressive ideology.  However, there are plenty of places where school districts have.  It’s true that, from what I know of Madison, public policy there is likely to be progressive even by progressive standards.  Nonetheless, even if your local progressive district hasn’t gotten there yet, MMSD gives us a pretty good idea of where it’s headed in future.

It used to be that public schools were (at least seen as) relatively neutral, benign educational establishments.  You could send your kids off every day and trust that the school pretty much would stay in its lane and leave the moral instruction to you.  Sadly, that conviction is becoming increasingly naïve.

As always, I leave decisions about how children should be educated to parents.  You decide in good conscience what method is best for your kids, and I’ll respect that, whether you have chosen public school, private school, or homeschool.

However, I will say that parents who have chosen public school in blue districts need to be wary.  Do not assume that worldview indoctrination is going to be preceded by waving banners and brass bands.  Instead, you need to ask probing questions, both of your children and of their teachers, about what kinds of things are being taught.  If you get answers you don’t like, you don’t necessarily have to yank your kids, but you do have to make sure that the predominant moral narrative in their lives is the Biblical one.

We live in a strange time.  On a fundamental level, I can’t get my head around the idea that people believe that gender is a matter of preference rather than biology.  It flat doesn’t compute for me, and I suspect that many other Christian parents are in the same boat.  However, there are millions of folks out there who believe this with the same fervor with which we believe in the resurrection, and they will not hesitate to use any means available to proselytize.  If we are not vigilant in this and related areas, we may end up regretting our failure for the rest of our lives.