Parental Authority & Our Schools – (repost)

Originally posted June 30, 2021

Abigail Shrier in her book Irreversible Damage spends a chapter on the parents who are in pain and whose authority is being disregarded. Let me mention a few parents and their daughters. (Names have been changed by Shrier.)

JULIE

Two Midwesterners, Shirley and her lesbian partner were raising an academically successful, physically energetic but socially challenged young girl. Shrier gives her the name of “Julie.” She had crushes on boys growing up, which was just fine with her two moms. Julie was a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at school, which her mothers took as a welcome sign of solidarity.

Julie had no history of gender dysphoria (the scientific literature unequivocally shows GD occurs mostly in boys and usually presents itself around the ages of 2-4. Little boys will say things like, “but no mommy, I’m not a boy, I’m a girl.” Natal Females almost never do this.) Julie didn’t either. Shirley said, “As far as I knew, she identified as straight. She was pretty girly and feminine.”

At the GSA she met a girl named Lauren, who introduced her to anime, computer-animated images of anthropomorphized creatures. “I had no idea it was tied into this whole trans culture,” said Shirley. Julie began to visit DeviantArt, a website where Trans folk hang out and gender ideology is discussed at length.

Julie loved ballet. And was good at it. She was on route to becoming a professional ballet dancer, “nabbing top roles in her dance company.” She landed the coveted part of Cinderella in the ballet by the same name. But, after “crushing” her performance and coming out onstage to take her bows and receive the high praises of the audience, Julie caught the eye of her closest friend, Lauren. Shirley describes what happened next, she “sort of looked like she was ashamed of herself and faded. All of her joy sucked out of her body.” Unbeknownst to Julie’s parents, Lauren had recently come out as “transgender.” Julie would soon follow.

"Gendered performances, such as occur in ballet, fly in the face of trans identification.  To transgender adolescents, gendered behavior that accords with one's sex is the ultimate blunder--it unmasks as frauds those who lack commitment, who are really just "cis"1"Cis" means on this side of gender, "trans" means on the other side after all.  - Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier

Like the culture of eating disorder patients who regard “thinness” as a virtue, and extremism in pursuit of the noble goal as a sign of personal integrity, transgenderism tracks the same disordered trajectory. There are pro-anorexia sites all over the social media internet preaching the purity of the pursuit. Same with the Online Trans world. It is an “Us” vs. “Them” division.

Julie’s parents wanted to be on the side of their daughter so they followed along too. And began using new names and pronouns, thinking maybe this was the right thing to do. But Julie was getting angrier and more distant and emotionally detached. So they stopped doing that.

Shrier then recounts what she described in an online interview as one of the most disappointing parts of this whole Trans story; in loco parentis (in place of the parent) has taken on a new meaning within many of our public & private schools.

Shirley met with the school administrators, who assured her that as long as Julie was at their all-girls’ school, they would treat her as a girl and use her given name and female pronouns. “Well, that’s not what happened.” Without her mothers’ knowledge or permission, Julie’s teachers, administrators, and friends all acceded to Julie’s request and began referring to her as a male student and by her new male name. Julie began to lead a kind of double life. “When she was too much at school, too much at her computer, she became morose, withdrawn, angry. We had no idea she was indoctrinating herself with these YouTube videos.” - Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier

But the die was cast. And it seemed like most were playing along. Even dance company choreographers:

At eighteen, Julie moved out of the house, signed up for Medicaid—although she was still on her mothers’ insurance—and began a course of testosterone. Julie found a local dance company that would permit her to train as a male. But she wasn’t strong enough, Shirley told me. “From what I understand, the choreographer had to rechoreograph it three times because she couldn’t keep up [as a man]…. She dropped a couple of dancers.” Her mother was frightened that Julie’s apparent fixation was going to hurt her or someone else. She reprimanded her, “It’s not just your body and your career. You’re talking about someone else’s body and their career. You’re going to hurt them.” But by then, Julie was done taking advice from her mothers. She abruptly cut off contact with them. She has hundreds of followers on Instagram; her mothers are blocked from viewing her account. “We have someone who’s been able to snoop in on her [Instagram]… I saw the picture of her, right after her mastectomy, lying in the hospital bed, talking about how this is the best day of her life, tears of joy, this kind of thing, and four hundred of her cheerleaders saying, ‘Yay,’ ‘Awesome job,’ ‘We’re so proud of you,’ ‘You can do this.’ You know—the usual.” - Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier

Instead of standing in place of the parents, and representing the parents wishes for the children in their charge, schools are disregarding parental concerns. They go around parents and often kids like Julie become more and more distant from the ones who love them most. Parents who don’t affirm are regarded as “toxic.” This “toxicity” charge will be leveled not just by the legions of Internet Trans Influencers but by school teachers and administrators. I’ll go into more detail about that in a minute, but first another story.

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GAYATRI

Her father an Indian immigrant and physician and her mother a software engineer came, as all do, for the abundant opportunities of American life. Once again, Gayatri showed no signs of childhood gender dysphoria. She was born with a minor neurological disorder affecting her motor skills, and as a result, by the time puberty hit, more than the usual awkwardness followed. In middle school one of her elementary school friends came out as Trans and began “transitioning” by binding her breasts and announcing her new male name, and asking others to use her new male pronouns.

In ninth grade Gayatri was given a laptop and after much pleading a smartphone. She spent a lot of time on Tumblr and DeviantArt (mentioned earlier). Every free moment she spent online. But since both her parents were comfortable with technology and the Internet, nothing up to this point concerned them.

In the second half of her freshman year, one of her teachers nominated her for a leadership retreat, and her parents were thrilled, eagerly paying the fee. “I always had great appreciation and respect for all the institutions in the United States, starting with the government, and the federal nature of everything, the school districts being independent and all that,” her father said. He examined the flyer for the retreat, believing his daughter had been recognized for a special honor. The flyer contained “all positive things” about leadership and social justice, which sounded like a good thing. “I trusted the school completely.” At the end of the weekend-long retreat, the students performed a play for the parents. “The whole play focused on sexuality and gender,” Gayatri’s mother told me. “It was all about these depressed kids with no motivation.” Each kid stood up and introduced themselves with some alleged hardship identity—“I’m depressed,” “I’m gay.” Then, Gayatri stood up. “ ‘I’m transgender, and I go by they/them.’ We were like in tears, we didn’t know what to do,” her mother said. After the camp, Gayatri discarded all of her girls’ clothes and set up an Instagram account announcing her new name. One day, while she was walking the dog with her parents, Gayatri floated the idea of starting testosterone and getting top surgery. Her parents became alarmed. By then, they had learned that Gayatri’s school had been using her “new name” and pronouns (though never on any documentation sent home) entirely without their knowledge. No longer merely the class bungler, Gayatri had reinvented herself as the edgy trans kid. The “likes” and emojis showered on her Instagram profile spoke for themselves: this new identity was an upgrade. As a “trans boy,” Gayatri had friends—lots of them. [emphasis mine] - Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier

If you ever wonder why so many parents have become deeply disillusioned with the state of public education in America, this might now be exhibit A.

Schools are being coached by Activists to protect the privacy of the student who identifies as Transgender, even if this means keeping the parents in the dark.

According to Transgender Activists, the starting point is the conviction that,

Privacy and confidentiality are critically important for transgender students who do not have supportive families. In those situations, even inadvertent disclosures could put the student in a potentially dangerous situation at home, so it is important to have a plan in place to help avoid any mistakes or slip-ups. - Human Rights Campaign "Schools In Transition" pg 16

An entire chapter (5) in HRC’s “Schools in Transition” is devoted to “Unsupportive Parents or Caregivers.” But what about those many parents who truly love their children and sincerely believe that transitioning is the worst thing for them. What about those parents who want to assist with a course of therapy (and prayer) that doesn’t include the advice of the “affirmative care model”? What if they believe helping their child align with their birth sex is a better pathway to personal wholeness? What if they believe God created their children as male or female? Are these experts from the Human Rights Campaign and their supporters in our school systems the only experts to be consulted? Are you comfortable with these experts going around the backs of parents? Keeping them in the dark?

I’m not.

Here is a revealing quote in the HRC guidelines.

School officials interact with the student on a daily basis and focus on supporting the student’s growth and development, which gives school personnel unique insight into the student’s needs.

And parents don’t have unique insight into the student’s needs? More than school officials? For the Activists unless these parents adopt the affirm-only, puberty-blocking, sterilizing doctrine of pediatric medical transition they are at best misguided and at worst bigots.  Are you comfortable with that conclusion?

I’m not.

Maybe these parents possess wisdom gleaned from having raised these children from birth, wisdom these school experts and Transgender Activists don’t possess about these particular children. Maybe refusing to be cajoled into going against a parents deepest protective instincts should be respected by those payed to educate their children. Maybe agreeing to a never ending regimen of cross-hormone therapy and radical life altering surgeries is a bridge too far for most parents. Maybe these parents have done their own research and are convinced that the recent explosive growth of teen girls identifying as Trans is not real but evidence of social contagion.

***

Another model the “Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” produced by the National Center for Transgender Equality and GLSEN includes the following guideline:

Staff or educators shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s gender identity to others, including parents or guardians... 

Unless absolutely required to do so by law. These guidelines give advice on how to use a student’s preferred name and pronouns in class, but the legal name and normal sex-specific pronouns in communication with parents. Rather than respect parental authority and adhere to the historic in loco parentis expectation, parents are being deceived and disregarded.

***

Many call for public education reform so that the money “follows the student” instead of going to designated school districts, some of which are failing academically, as well as failing to live up to the historic in loco parentis expectation. These reformers insist the 1964 Civil Right’s Act anti-discrimination guidelines will still be followed, guidelines which specifically reference “race, color, religion, national origin” and “sex” discrimination. Nobody wants to “turn back the clock” on those advances. Practical matters like transportation issues can be worked out. These reformers say, let the parents pick the schools on a rational geographic basis. If your local school is “preaching” a gender ideology that you as a parent disagree with, then you should have the flexibility to send your child elsewhere. Just like in Sweden, where the money follows the child. You are not locked into a particular school simply because of where you live. We need to allow parents creative choice solutions to a very real and for them disturbing trend in education.

I would personally support something like the Swedish education model without disregarding the religious “free exercise” clause in our Constitution. A clause which supports freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Otherwise, we would veer off into anti-religious bigotry. A very real concern these days.

***

Here is an interesting link about the Swedish Culture and Economy. We have been told that Swedish society is based on a socialist model. Well, that was then. 30 years ago. This is now. At around 33:43 into the video, they start talking about how the Swedes do public education. But you might want to watch the whole thing.

***

Some think this too extreme, which given the current state of public education in America, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to experiment with different solutions.

I know many public school educators. I have great respect for most of them. But, I’ve personally witnessed more than a few inadequate teachers, administrators and failing schools. So if you think American parents like the ones in the stories above will accept this new understanding of in loco parentis and simply roll with gender ideology, you might be mistaken. After the remote learning experience of last year & the unwillingness of schools to reopen many parents are deciding to pull the plug on the current local school option, if at all possible.

Obviously for most parents this is not feasible. But if the money followed the student they just might vote with their feet. And I wouldn’t blame them.

My next post will look at gender ideology propagated in our elementary schools.

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Bonny Eagle High Library Rejects “Irreversible Damage.”

I’ve blogged about Bonny Eagle High School in Maine twice already. Now this…


Companion Post

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