Transgendered persons make up less than one-half of one percent of the American population, experts say, but the drive to expand their rights is gaining momentum. And Christians are concerned such efforts will encourage gender confusion among children.
In the latest media report on transgenderism, an 8-year-old Colorado boy wants to be recognized as a girl. The second-grader has found support from his parents and his Denver-area elementary school, which is making two unisex bathrooms available and having its teachers call him by a girl's name.
Douglas County School District, the third largest district in Colorado, recently released a statement to CNN regarding the transgender child, saying: "We continue to be focused on providing a positive learning environment for this student and all students in the class and school that is free from harassment. As with many other students, this particular student brings a diverse set of circumstances to the school setting."
Douglas County Schools spokesman Whei Wong said the school is adjusting to make sure the staff is well informed about "some of the challenges surrounding these different kinds of diversity factors."
Conservative family group Americans for Truth rejected the school officials framing the case as an issue of "diversity," arguing that such labeling shows "the elasticity of that term to include extremely disordered behavioral choices among even the youngest students."
Conservative groups also contend the student is too young to decide to want to change gender identity.
"Premature closure on such an important issue as gender identity doesn't bode well for young children," Dr. Dean Byrd, a member of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, told Family News in Focus. "Boys are curious about boys, and they're curious about girls. I don't want this to be translated to a label for a child so young."
One parent, whose 14-year-old daughter now identifies as a male, doesn't believe the Colorado student's decision was premature.
Kim Pearson cited the American Academy of Pediatrics, saying that children have their identity formed between the ages of three and five, she told CNN.
Pearson is the executive director of TransYouth Family Advocates and said she has not discouraged her daughter from masculine behavior. After noticing signs of depression from her child as she got older, Pearson said she felt "relief" when her daughter claimed to have a male identity because she knew then what they were dealing with.
"We just want kids to be safe and happy, and be able to get an education," said Pearson who has commended Douglas County Schools for accommodating the 8-year-old transgender student.
Americans for Truth, which is devoted to opposing and countering the homosexual agenda, says permissive parenting may play a major role in encouraging "gender-confused identity in a child."
"If the parents are so misled to encourage their child in this gender-confused behavior, they should not be allowed to teach that same behavior to all the other students in the school," said Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, according to OneNewsNow.
One parent of the Colorado student's classmate told CNN that it's a very difficult situation to explain to his daughter as to why someone would not want to be a gender they were born with.
For some conservative groups, support for the transgender student is just the latest in a continuing trend of moral relativism in public schools. Organizations have coalesced in campaigns calling for Christian parents to pull their children out of public schools and to find alternatives.
"Christians have already become numb to the moral relativism that is taught in all public schools today," said Bruce Shortt, author of The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, in a statement last week. "Now children will be told that their sexual orientation and gender are relative, too.
"No longer will children raised in these schools understand that God made us male and female with different, but complementary roles. Instead, children will be taught that sexual orientation and gender are merely a matter of personal choice. Thus, children will be told that because there are many sexual orientations and gender identities, they simply have to reach their own conclusions about which sexual orientation and gender 'possibilities' are 'right for them.'"
And the likely consequences for this are "horrendous," Shortt said.