The Agenda Behind the Dept. of Education’s Transgender “Guidance”


Because they’ve dominated higher education — academia being characterized by its role in giving professors time to sit around in deep thought and strategy — and because they’ve managed to siphon public funds away from government’s basic functions in order to fund activists, progressives have become adept at injecting certain issues with a toxic payload of assumptions.  Thus, they sell Americans on tolerance and infect the country with a malignant intolerance that erodes our basic right to determine the government under which we live and shape our society.

A new document from Rhode Island’s Dept. of Education titled “Guidance for Rhode Island Schools on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” is an excellent case study.  Start with the reported assurance that the new rules are not “a mandate.”  To the contrary, the guidance document itself proclaims that the department “is committed to ensuring safe and supportive learning environments for all Rhode Island youth” and that “it is imperative that the school system, along with family and education professionals, be supportive role models and strong advocates for the safety and well-being of children.”

Anybody at all familiar with the way progressive government actually functions knows that such “guidance” is only voluntary until some school within its reach declines to follow it.  At that point, government officials will acknowledge that the non-mandatory guidance is, indeed, required, whether the enforcement mechanism turns out to be a cataclysmic reduction of funding, a removal of accreditation, or some other administrative punishment.  Thus are seemingly reasonable statements of “we’re only offering guidance” or the broader “suggestions for planning” again and again proven to be the first pressure of an inexorable shove.

But that’s merely a procedural point.  The deeper infection is buried within the 13 pages of explanation.  Consider this on page 9:

Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to foster understanding of gender identity and to create a school culture that respects and values all students. Schools could consider gender-neutral restrooms and/or gender-neutral changing facility in the design of new schools and school renovations.

Note, first of all, the use of the term “segregated,” as if this is some arbitrary rule we impose on children for spaces in which they disrobe.  A less-loaded word, like “assigned” or “designated,” wouldn’t evoke the loaded image of racial segregation that is central to activists’ rhetoric.

More important, though, is the context.  If we take its authors at their word, three paragraphs earlier, the “guidance” is entirely intended to ensure that “all students” can “comfortably and fully engage in their school program and activities.”  But the solution for students who aren’t comfortable with the new bathroom rules isn’t to accommodate them; it’s to bring in administrators and counselors to re-educate the uncomfortable student, so that he or she understands that being valued is contingent upon agreeing with the progressive worldview.

This “guidance” (at both levels) is perfectly in keeping with the objectionable insistence that this is an issue that cannot be trusted to local school districts to resolve according not only to their own values, but also to the unique circumstances of their students.  Considering actual flesh-and-blood students involved in such a situation, it might be a simple matter to accommodate both a transgender student and one who isn’t comfortable with the new private-area regime.  The Dept. of Education doesn’t mention that possibility, because its instructions aren’t actually about “all students” being “comfortable.”  They’re about imposing a worldview.

The department even goes so far as to suggest that eliminating “sex segregated restrooms” should be a goal for all new and renovated schools.  The re-education will not be complete, it seems, until students are comfortable sharing restrooms and changing facilities with anybody.

If the plan is for students to be re-educated, one might wonder about the involvement of parents.  Here’s where the department’s guidance truly becomes objectionable.  Although, the document states on page 6, parents will usually be the ones to tell the school about an elementary student’s “transition”:

… it is not unusual for a student’s desire to transition to first surface at school. If school staff believes that a gender identity or gender expression issue is presenting itself and creating difficulty for the child in school, approaching parent(s)/guardian(s) about the issue is appropriate at the elementary level. Together, the family and school can identify appropriate steps to support the student.

School employees, in other words, are tasked with watching for signs that a student might have “a gender identity or gender expression issue” and approaching the parents with the observation.  Then, the guidance puts the school staff and parents on equal footing.  They’ll work “together” to be “supportive.”  What happens if the parents’ view of what is in their child’s best interest differs from that of the government?

One might think that the insinuation of that question is too suspicious… until moving on to the section about secondary school.  Again, the guidance notes that parents will generally already be aware of the gender issues of their children:

In some cases, however, notifying the family carries risks for the student, such as being kicked out of the home. School staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the family will be involved in the process and must consider the health, well-being, and safety of the transitioning student.

So, for children as young, presumably, as 14, the school may actively conspire with the student in hiding from his or her parents an issue that is supposedly central to their child’s very being.  In the next paragraph, the “family” is reduced to inclusion only as a parenthetical note, and the school is tasked with discussing “a timeline for the transition in order to create the conditions to provide a safe and supportive environment at the school.”

That is, through its schools, the government is not only seeking to accommodate the challenges of students’ personal lives to the extent necessary to accomplish the primary objective of educating them, but to become actively involved in transforming children’s beliefs and identities — perhaps including irreversible changes to their very bodies.

The especially chilling realization that this “guidance” should produce is this: If such a principle of government schools applies to the rare and complicated issue of gender identity, the premise must already be assumed for all students on every issue.  In the progressive view, government schools aren’t just given their powerful role in our children’s lives in order to ensure an adequately (or at least minimally) educated citizenry, but to shape them according to a progressive worldview defined by state and federal “guidance.”

  • Lance Wilson

    First, we’ll have to see how November shakes out and then with either of the two likely winners, what crowd takes over the Department of Education.

    Second, RIDE will not with hold funds and accreditation (except for charter and state schools) is done by NEASC, outside the control of RIDE. Yes, maybe depending on the bureaucrats and depending on the Gov’s status post-November, some administrative “behind the scenes” delays or inaction might occur.

    It’s only guidance and your point about “guidance” noted, any school board and Superintendent with a spine will simply follow the law and put this guidance in the circular file, One simple reason is to avoid the lawsuits and costs the early adopters in higher education of similar “guidance” (or the dear colleague letter that DOE uses) are facing from males denied due process from the guidance that tipped the scales in terms of handling alleged sexual misconduct cases. I’m sure If there are situations about locker rooms, bathrooms, health classes (hmm..what about those “segregated health classes”?), a parent opposed to such forced accommodations would have a decent legal case given it’s only “guidance”. Where will the state be then to pay those costs? (and for those who don’t think the SCOTUS or appellate court judicial nominations matter, these issues will be making there way there over the next few years).

    If you want to force the issue early, have some males who “identify” as females (since you can’t ask them anyway) start populating the girls’ sports team. RIIL rules say schools (public or private) who participate in RIIL must assign based on student identity, not biology or sex of record.

    Coaches and administrators praise the transitioning female to male swimmer at Harvard..because that student athlete is finishing last or near last in competition. Think they would feel the same if it were a bunch of males still chemically/physically unchanged who now were dominating women’s sports’ competitions??

    Imagine in RI if a handful of those situations occurred – I bet some of those “progressive” parents would demand some changes if their daughters’ teams were now being beaten or their child was losing playing time/roster spots..and having to change in the same locker room!

    Take some brave young men..but that would make a mockery of Title IX and then you’d have the interesting fight within the left..

    • Mike678

      Perhaps. But you are using logic–the left is often emotion, not fact or reality based.

      Many on the left are so concerned about the rights of a few thousand that they are willing to trample the rights of millions. How is the tyranny of the minority better than the tyranny of the majority?

      • Russ

        “Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
        –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural

        • Mike678

          Nice quote. Doesn’t answer the question, but then again, we are used to that from you.

          • Russ

            It’s a nonsense question, and Jefferson said it perfectly.

            Let me get this straight, you think it’s tyranny to allow transgender teens to use a particular bathroom? It would be funny except that I figure you’re probably serious.

          • Mike678

            If it’s a nonsense question, why respond? And if it’s a nonsense question, how can Jefferson respond perfectly? More twisted Conway reasoning, I assume.

            Nice strawman, BTW. No, I think it’s an infringement of my rights to force me and others to allow deviants into the bathroom my child uses. And before you go off on your progressive high horse, look up the term ‘deviant.” Nevermind, I’ll save you the time: departing from usual or accepted standards, especially in social or sexual behavior.

            Frankly, all public bathrooms will eventually be unisex like in many college dorms (It will prevent those long women’s lines at the events–now we can all wait equally). I don’t have a problem with unisex–I do, however, have a problem sending my young niece into a ‘womens’ room that I, as a normal male, cannot enter and some deviant–whether trans-gender or pervert–can.

            Then again, perhaps this is just a way for progressive males to compete–they can sign-up for the women’s team. :)