My eighth-grade son recently got a “lesson” in English class that featured a video of a transgender activist making a speech that includes sexually suggestive language.
As a society, we have seen this sort of thing play out time and time again in recent years. First, the left asks for tolerance, then acceptance, and then they demand that you celebrate their push for full “social justice” indoctrination in every classroom in America.
The results of the governor’s race in Virginia give me hope that my wife and I are not alone in concern over schools abusing the trust we place in them to protect our children. To me, this is not part of a “culture war,” but about keeping our schools focused on education and not indoctrination.
To the credit of my son’s middle school, when I requested a meeting about the use of this video on transgenderism in class on Oct. 4, the principal immediately scheduled one four days later. As we will see, though, even if the principal wanted to resist such lessons, he would be hard-pressed to do so.
First, it is important to set the scene on what was so over the line about the lesson given to my son’s class at a school in Howard County, Maryland. The 6-minute video is from a TED Talks presentation originally made in December 2017 by Jackson Bird, a transgender activist who was born a girl but identifies as a boy.
Although appearing to be much younger in the video, Bird was about 27 at the time of the presentation, titled “How to Talk (and Listen) to Transgender People.” You can watch the video for yourself, but here are some of the lowlights.
In just the first minute, my 13-year-old son and about 20 classmates were treated to “hypothetical questions” and insightful observations from Bird about transgender individuals, such as:
- “I wonder if he has had the surgery yet? Oh, now I’m looking at his crotch.”
- “Wait, how does he use the bathroom? How does he have sex?”
- “People are pretty much always wondering how we have sex and what kind of equipment we’re working with below the belt.”
What a wonderful educational opportunity for my son to sit through and then be subjected to a ridiculous prompt from his teacher “to share something you learned from the video.”
Only affirmation acceptable
In the video, Bird asserts that it is only awkward being trans because all of us uneducated rubes do not understand what it is like to be trans. Biological realities are simply our misconceptions, denying that gender can be misassigned at birth.
“When you come out as trans,” Bird says in the video, “you have to face the misconceptions that will color other people’s impressions of you, even after you’ve educated them.”
There you have it: a trans activist is now in charge of my son’s eighth-grade English lesson.
Affirmation is the only acceptable way to address the transgender issue, and you must use a trans individual’s preferred pronouns as soon as you are told the person’s new name and pronouns, Bird says during the talk filmed before a small, mostly quiet audience.
I am a career Army officer. My wife works as a teaching assistant in an elementary school. We make a practice of reviewing the health lessons at our son’s middle school, but naively never thought to look at English lessons. We were surprised by this “lesson” openly advocating the LGBTQ+ agenda and using a trans activist’s propaganda speech disguised as English instruction.
That brings us to the three other actors involved in my meeting at the school: the pusher, the patsy, and the unwitting accomplice.
In the role of pusher is the district’s director of the English language arts curriculum. The patsy is played by the fully indoctrinated teacher, a young woman straight out of the higher education system. And the unwitting accomplice is none other than our principal.
This cast of characters illustrates why it is so hard to stop the blatant indoctrination of our kids at schools.
Our pusher sits on high and dreams up ways to create new lesson plans to be shipped down to the patsy teacher, who will happily carry the message down to your kids too. The pusher is active in all fronts of kids’ education; our pusher helped craft the Howard County Public School System’s “Educational Equity” policy, “LGBTQIA+ Youth” policy, and creative events celebrating the small minority who aren’t heterosexual, such as HOCO Pride 2021.
Crossing the line
During the 35-minute meeting, I expressed serious concern over this lesson being taught in my son’s English class with no prior notice to parents. I questioned why the school openly advocates LGBTQ+ activism and presents it as something that must be celebrated.
Our pusher tried to obfuscate reality and told me, to the best of my memory: “With all due respect, trans and LGBTQ people’s existence is not controversial.”
Thanks, but that is not what I said. There is a lot of ground between introducing the existence of transgender and LGBTQ people as part of the Howard County school system’s “Family Life and Human Sexuality curriculum” during a lesson in health class and open advocacy by an English teacher who presents a video of a talk by a trans activist.
If there were any doubt where our patsy stands on the issue, she was wearing a “Protect Trans Lives” T-shirt and hat for the lesson. She included a PowerPoint slide promoting the Howard County pride event and calling for students to come “celebrate LGBTQ+ Identities.” She added these words to the slide: “I’ll be at Pride from 1-6! I hope to see you there!”
That clearly crosses the line from a neutral lesson to open advocacy.
The pusher, the curriculum director for English language arts, did not see it that way. She lectured me for over five minutes about how it is the school’s job to ensure students are exposed to “sensitive” subjects, hiding behind a distortion of the “Windows and Mirrors” instructional method. She had created a curriculum to incorporate lessons about the LGBTQ community into all English language arts classrooms in the Howard County school district.
The pusher further explained that the patsy, the young teacher, had adapted a lesson called “Exploring the Unknown,” originally about space exploration, and now expanded for new “opportunities” to explore “equity” lessons. I never got a straight answer to my question of what English topic the lesson covered, despite asking it several times.
I lost count, but the curriculum director used the words “inclusion” or “inclusive” well over a dozen times. I can assure you that she did not mean inclusion for my son.
After enduring her full lecture of how I simply did not understand the importance of the school’s indoctrination of my son, I started to speak. She cut me off midsentence to attempt to berate me more. I told her that I was respectful and listened to her, and now it was my turn to speak.
Nothing to do with English
This is when I told the curriculum director that I did not need her to indoctrinate my son into LGBTQ activism. I also told her that she had lost my trust to introduce “sensitive” subjects to him.
I then turned to the patsy teacher and said words to this effect: “I do not trust your judgment to educate my son about LGBTQ or other sensitive topics and want him opted out of all future lessons about those.”
I elaborated that what the teacher had done went well beyond introducing a “sensitive” topic, and instead was openly advocating that our son celebrate lifestyles that my wife and I do not condone.
The principal, as an unwitting accomplice, was stuck in the middle. He acknowledged that the video of Bird’s talk went over the line, but hedged his bet by saying that the message was simply lost on some eighth graders who might not have the maturity yet to get past the shock of how the young transgender speaker presented the subject.
Although I am grateful that the principal openly acknowledged that this video was inappropriate for school, his view loses sight of the fact that this lesson should not be part of English class at all.
I do not want to speak for the principal, but it was clear that he was uncomfortable with the whole discussion about the lesson. He even said that he largely agreed with most of my concerns, for whatever that is worth.
I walked away with more respect for the principal than when the meeting started because he had the courage to meet with me and even somewhat agree with my concerns, in the face of the pusher and much to the bemusement of the patsy.
However, the principal is emblematic of the problem at hand. Even if he wanted to resist these lessons, he would do it at the likely cost of his job. This made him the unwitting accomplice, haplessly nodding along with the pusher’s agenda and my concerns over the open indoctrination of my son.
During the meeting, I did get quite animated. At one point I said something like: “If I sound angry, it is because I am angry. I thought I could trust that school would be a place where I did not have to worry about my son being indoctrinated by beliefs I do not share.”
Parents, see for yourselves
If parents who read this article check their school district’s website and their child’s “canvas” pages, I suspect that they will be quite surprised by what they find. I encourage every parent to do this and to schedule a meeting at their school, like I did. Hopefully, you will be able to “opt out” your children prior to their indoctrination lessons.
In our son’s case, he is now “opted out” of future lessons pushing LGBTQ+ activism and was assigned a separate book to read, an option from the earlier incarnation of the “Exploring the Unknown” lesson.
However, our son still had to sit through more “writing prompts” presented to the whole English class about the subject. On Friday, Oct. 22, the focus in class was the unfairness of “a push for transgender youth sports bans.”
In response, our son’s classmates had to write about either “what are our responsibilities to explore and create a more inclusive, equitable future” or “how do we hold or create space for change in society when we learn about people who have been marginalized?”
Not exactly a balanced look at the complex issue of allowing boys to play girls sports, and what states are doing to protect young women and their opportunities.
My Army career has made our family’s involvement in local communities quite transitory in nature. The sensitivities surrounding political involvement as an active-duty officer make me quite reluctant to tackle local issues.
However, I decided to look up the next election for the Howard County Board of Education and learned, much to my chagrin, that it won’t be until 2024. The good part, though, is that I will have time to find like-minded parents either to support school board candidates who share our values or to run themselves.
I do not want to cede control of our schools to political ideologues, but to make them places where the priority is teaching our children the skills they will need in life.
This will be an uphill struggle because pushers, patsies, and unwitting accomplices are everywhere in public school systems, openly advocating liberal indoctrination in every subject matter and in every district. But it is a fight we must have.
Originally published at The Daily Signal.
Matt Schoenfeldt, a career Army officer, describes himself as a happily married father of two.