Many parents are starting to panic about what schools are teaching their children about gender. Here in New Zealand, increasing numbers of parents are withdrawing their children from school due to concerns about gender identity instruction. In the US, after sustained pressure from angry parents, Florida recently passed controversial legislation prohibiting, among other things, classroom instruction on gender identity for students below the age of about ten.
These parents are concerned about the influence of a belief system called gender identity theory, or more informally gender ideology. Gender ideology is tremendously unpopular with everyday people, as highlighted by a recent cover story in The Economist, which described efforts to “relabel women as birthing people” as one of the “most extreme and least popular ideas” of the US Democratic Party’s activist wing (the phrase ‘birthing people’ is a hallmark term of gender ideology). It’s therefore unsurprising that opinion polls in both New Zealand and the United States indicate that a large majority of people oppose gender identity instruction in schools, including many or most Left-wing voters.
Recent Curia New Zealand opinion poll results show overwhelming opposition to teaching gender ideology (Link to source).
Still, some people are not yet convinced that gender identity instruction is a serious problem. Gender identity lessons are marketed as efforts to reduce bullying and promote inclusion, which are laudable goals that appeal to most people. Gender activists also misleadingly package their ideas as an extension of the popular campaign for gay and lesbian acceptance.
But many people remain confused about what “gender ideology” actually says, whether it is being taught in schools, and even whether it really exists. One article in Quartz claimed that the whole idea of gender ideology is a “conspiracy theory” invented by conservatives, and even attempted to spuriously tie objections to gender ideology to opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage (both of which I personally support).
If you’ve been confused and on the sidelines of the gender education debate, this article is for you. I want to show you exactly what’s being taught to your children, so that you can decide for yourself whether you like it. We’ll examine several typical examples of gender identity instruction, and think through their implications.