On Wednesday, he published Sexual Liberation in Public Schools, the first in a new “investigative” series on gender. It focuses on how the Los Angeles Unified School District is “trans-affirming” and “breaking down the gender binary.”
His language is clear; this is something to panic about.
“It worked with CRT. Now it’s gender,” tweeted Kelly Jensen, Book Riot editor. “The misinformation campaign about to be launched is going to make this fight a lot uglier, louder, and deadly–no exaggeration–than it already is.”
The Attack on “Gender Ideology” Has Started
As with CRT, Rufo is villainizing gender-affirming education and hitting all the right buttons to stir up outrage and fear. Wokeness, parental choice, grooming, religion, and sex.
He calls words like “cisgender” and “heteropatriarchy” “academic slop,” which feeds the right’s motivating vitriol against a “woke elite.”
He wants parents to think that when teachers practice life-saving care, like correct pronoun use, they are grooming their children; “teachers can facilitate a child’s gender and sexual transition without notifying parents.”
He says middle school students will have “sexuality clubs” available, language surely meant to evoke moral panic around sex education and youth.
According to Rufo, “religion too is a mechanism of oppression” because a LAUSD training will help teachers navigate and “respond to religious objection” to protect kids.
He includes 140 slides, a “trove” of publicly available documents from LAUSD. While many will simply see rainbows and student-centered care, his followers will certainly find 140 reasons to be alarmed.
Sixteen states across the country passed laws that ban CRT or restrict education on race. Nineteen other states are considering similar legislation. So it’s not a leap to assume similar bans on gender and sexuality education will follow.
Although educators might feel like the country’s punching bags after years of pandemic school, now is clearly not the time to let our guards down.
Educate yourself. Does your district have an equity policy? Don’t be a Minnesota lawmaker; read it thoroughly. Do you feel confident that your district’s vision would support what you do, say, teach, and discuss in your classroom? What do your union and contract say about your rights? I wish teachers didn’t have to worry about risking their job over using students’ preferred pronouns, but we also have to protect ourselves.
Keep showing up. I can’t stress this enough; our students need us. Our cishet students (take that wokeness, Rufo!) need to see that everyone belongs in our classrooms as their full, authentic selves. They need to see that they, too, are more than limited, binary ideas of gender that say boys can’t cry and girls shouldn’t study math. If the right is going to use LGBTQ+ students’ identities used as political weaponry, these students need to be affirmed. Teachers must show these students they are worthy of love, belonging, and joy, just as they are. Finally, LBGTQ+ educators need to feel safe and valued as they do one of the hardest, most essential jobs in our society.
As these articles post over the next six weeks, pay attention to changes in rhetoric, but then pay attention to changes in policy. Your district, school board, and classroom are not immune. Be ready to fight back.
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