Lesson in SF was aimed at knowledge and understanding
To the Editor:
The delayed presentation cited in the Letter to the Editor on Dec. 9 (“Public schools should stay out of ‘gender identity’ business”) has already occurred. Parents were given the opportunity, by the school, to have their child opt out of this lesson. I think those are OK questions to ask, but I think that the evidence in sex education is that earlier is better, but with an eye to sensitivity and age-appropriate content.
We teach children about puberty before it happens so that they won’t be afraid when they start to see signs. Better to bring things up in a supportive environment where issues can be addressed appropriately.
However, I wanted to clarify the intent of the lesson. It is to help youth to gain knowledge and understand these terms and definitions. It is health education. It is not designed to change who they are, but rather gives them vocabulary to speak about who they are. It is not designed to indoctrinate, but to educate. Talking about transgender issues and homosexuality before a lot of overt sexual activity occurs is also to make sure that they’re not afraid if what they’re experiencing doesn’t mimic the “norm.”
Our students need to know the definition of words and terms. It helps in both eradicating hate and encouraging critical thought. This lesson doesn’t tell students how they are supposed to think or feel about their gender, identity or to whom they are attracted. Rather it empowers them to learn and draw their own conclusions.
I also want to address the comment “promoting this religion of transgender.” Being transgendered is not a religion. It is saying that the gender they were assigned at birth is not the same as the gender with which they identify. The terms trans and cis are actually terms used in science. The prefixes cis- and trans- are used in chemistry to describe geometric isomerism. The prefix cis- and trans- are used to identify which side of the double bond the similar atoms are found. The cis- prefix is from the Latin meaning “on this side.” The trans- prefix is from the Latin meaning “across.”
Having this understanding, knowing from where the terms are derived, isn’t going to change how a person identifies. It can, however, help one to realize it isn’t abnormal. It can lessen judgment, increase acceptance and help all students feel safe.