LINCOLN, Neb. — A school district in Nebraska is facing opposition over its teacher and administrative training, which urges faculty to stop using gender-specific terms such as “boys and girls,” but to rather utilize more inclusive language so as to accommodate transgender students or those who don’t think they fit into any gender.
Parent Rachel Terry recently told the Lincoln Journal Star that she plans to attend the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) board meeting on Oct. 14 to express concern over several handouts that were issued to teachers to promote the use of more gender-neutral terms. One of the documents, which is now available online, is produced by the organization Gender Spectrum and outlines “12 Easy Steps On the Way to Gender Inclusiveness.”
“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” it instructs. “Instead say things like ‘calling all readers,’ or ‘hey campers’ or ‘could all of the athletes come here.’ Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet at the rug.”
The document urges teachers to include other options besides just boy or girl in their speech.
“When you find it necessary to reference gender, say ‘boy, girl, both or neither,'” it states. “When asked why, use this as a teachable moment. Emphasize to students that your classroom recognizes and celebrates the gender diversity of all students.”
The list of steps also asks teachers to avoid separating the boys from the girls because of their identity, but to rather find other differences that aren’t gender specific.
“Avoid asking kids to line up as boys or girls or separating them by gender,” it reads. “Instead, use things like ‘odd and even birth date,’ or ‘Which would you choose: skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.'”
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that other handouts discuss the “continuum of sex and gender, and that the human condition doesn’t operate on a strict binary system of male and female.”
Student Services Director Russ Uhing said that the purpose of the documents is to help make students feel more welcomed, especially homosexual or transgender students, which he said run a greater risk of having mental issues or committing suicide.
“The agenda we’re promoting is to help all kids succeed,” also stated Brenda Leggiardo, LPS coordinator of social workers and counselors. “If there’s a staff member that’s uninformed and unsupportive, that can be pretty scary for a family maybe struggling to understand transgender issues themselves.”
Superintendent Steve Joel additionally outlined that although the training is in place, teachers are not required to eliminate gender-specific terms.
“Never once has anyone inside our system mandated that a teacher take [the words] ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ or ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ out of their interactions with children or interaction with adults,” he said.
But Terry says that she is still concerned that the district is using taxpayer dollars to push the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) agenda.
“By sidelining academic teacher training and replacing it with social re-engineering, the LPS administration has placed a higher priority on social reformation than on education,” she wrote in an email to other parents, who she urged to attend next week’s meeting.