Credit: Allison Shelley for American Education
As a congregational chief rabbi and law professor for nearly 20 years in California, I was disappointed when Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was unable to define the word “woman” when asked during his confirmation hearings for a seat on the Supreme Court. This extraordinary difficulty in distinguishing the sexes was a perfect reflection of the crisis that now prevails in California public education.
The state school system, set up to provide a safe learning climate for all students, regardless of ethnicity, race, language or religious affiliation, is now a social laboratory where students and families of pious faiths feel ostracized and isolated.
Consider: A Catholic mother in Northern California enrolled her daughter in a public charter school. During her first Zoom lessons, the girl, a freshman who had yet to set foot in school due to Covid-19, was asked for her name and ‘preferred pronouns’ . She chose a male name and male pronouns. The school then used this information without informing his parents.
The parents of the high school student asked me to protect their anonymity. Their fear was validated. Shortly after the parents expressed their dismay to school officials, child protective services showed up on their doorstep. The parents think it’s because they protested the school’s actions.
It’s bad enough that the government divides us by ethnicity, race, religion or language. Should our schools and law enforcement also be used to divide our families, even separate parents from children, reinforcing radical ideas about gender?
The new “non-binary” gender category now appears on all student information forms. Few parents, raised in a previous generation, realize that “non-binary” means something akin to “unlimited gender choices.” The California Department of Education defines “non-binary” as anything beyond the historical “male-female” binary understanding of gender. This may include new terms such as “transgender”, “genderless”, “intersex”, “agender”, “gender queer”, “gender fluid”, and “pangender”.
Consider this “Pride Scholars Program” document from the official Irvine Valley College website:
LGBTQIA+ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-Spirit, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Ally, A-gender, Bi-gender, Gender Queer, Pansexual, Pangender, and Gender Variant. Keep an open mind as this is constantly changing.
In its new Ethnic Studies curriculum (Chapter 3, page 6, note 5), the California Department of Education states that “the use of LGBTQ+ in this material is intended to represent an inclusive and ever-changing spectrum and an understanding of identities…expand[ing] to include queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, and alternative (LGBTQQIAA) identities, as well as expanding concepts that may fall under this umbrella term in the future.
In its Health Framework (chapter 5, line 675), the CDE recalls that these gender identities are constantly evolving to continue to develop in the future. In a 2018 letter to the federal government explaining California state policy, former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson made it clear that students could self-certify or choose their own sex. “The assumption underlying the California policy is that gender is a spectrum that is not necessarily tied to biological sex. State law allows all individuals, including students, to self-certify in their chosen gender category (male, female, or non-binary). . . .” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “gender non-binary” as essentially meaning endless gender categories: “Other terms to describe this identity include genderqueer, agender, bigender, gender creative, etc. »
The California Teachers Association passed a policy (R-1 through R-2) in January 2020 stating that, in the interests of “fairness,” transgender students should be able to access hormone therapy without parental consent, just like cisgender children can; in fact, parental permission was referred to as a “barrier”. The rationale for this “civil rights” policy: (p. 81) insofar as birth control hormones can be obtained by cis sexes (men and women identifying with their biological sex) without the parental permission, so hormones to arrest puberty, obtained by students who identify as other genders, must also be provided without parental permission.
As an Orthodox Jew, a member of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, which has 1,500 members, and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Coalition for Jewish Values, which has 2,000 members, I stand with my fellow rabbinical of Americans and clergy of other denominations – devout Catholics, Protestants of various denominations. religious denominations, faithful Muslims, Hindus and others — who share family values similar to ours. Together, we oppose the erosion of parental rights, as well as the deceptions perpetuated by public education today.
My colleague Imam Mustafa Umar, president of the Islamic University of California, asked, “When will we collectively say enough is enough?
Sacramento and local school boards must give parents the exclusive right to mentor their children on gender issues. If they don’t, parents will start leaving public schools in large numbers.
Dov Fisher, Esq., is Rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, senior rabbinical scholar at the Coalition for Jewish Values, and adjunct professor of law at two major Southern California law schools.
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