The Pennsylvania Department of Education is encouraging teachers to host a “Gender-Neutral Day” for children with resources from Learning for Justice, the education affiliate of the disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The education department’s webpage titled “Gender/Gender Identity: Creating Gender-Inclusive Schools and Classrooms” contains a list of “Words You Should Know,” from “The Gender Spectrum,” which was published in 2013 by SPLC’s former Teaching Tolerance program.
“Thirty years ago, when Teaching Tolerance was founded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, its goal was clear: eradicating hate by fighting intolerance in schools,” wrote Learning for Justice Director Jalaya Liles Dunn about the name change on the organization’s website, adding:
Over the years, even we have admitted that “tolerance” is an imperfect term. We justified our name by applying the term broadly, saying no single word quite captured the range of solutions needed to create a fair, equal society. We’re proud of the work we’ve done. But our approach—and our work—have evolved. And our goals have shifted, as well.
“We also know that the health of our society largely depends on the state of things in the South, and that’s why we’re planning to become more deliberate about our work in the South, along with the rest of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Liles Dunn wrote.
Among the terms the Pennsylvania Department of Education apparently wants teachers to know, based on “The Gender Spectrum” article, are:
- “Binary Gender,” defined as “the faulty concept that there are only two genders: male and female.”
- “Preferred Personal Pronouns”: In addition to the traditional pronouns (he/him, she/her, they), some people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ne, ve, ze/zie and xe. If you don’t know a student’s preferred personal pronoun, it’s always best to ask.
- “Transgender”: Describes anyone whose gender identity and birth sex do not align. The word should be used as, “transgender,” not “transgendered.” For example, “My brother Sam is transgender. His birth name was Samantha.”
Are we doomed? “Some people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ne, ve, ze/zie, and xe." https://t.co/QuuZXjjEGc
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 2, 2022
In “The Gender Spectrum” article, author Carrie Kilman wrote, “The terminology used to describe these identities is vast and evolving.”
Kilman also cited Diane Ehrensaft, author of Gender Born, Gender Made Kids, who reportedly asserted children develop a sense of gender identity by age 2 or 3.
Access the SPLC's Learning for Justice podcast Queer America to explore the history of U.S. sexual identity and gender identity.
This podcast from Learning for Justice is a resource to help educators integrate LGBTQ history into their curriculum.https://t.co/ZeLP4nJt0L
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) September 23, 2021
The “Toolkit for Creating a Gender-Neutral Day,” recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, is also from SPLC’s Learning for Justice, which lists “action steps” to engage students in the day.
“Have students pick two to three ways they will reject gender stereotypes for the day,” Learning for Justice recommends, adding:
- Students should make specific commitments, such as choosing to sit somewhere new in the lunchroom or deciding to try out a new game or activity on the playground or during PE class.
- As the teacher, you can also make specific commitments to challenge gender norms in your classroom, such as rearranging the seating chart or assigning speaking roles during class readings without considering gender.
Southern Poverty Law Center became widely known for its list of “hate groups,” one that included many conservative and Christian organizations. With accusations from SPLC’s own employees the organization’s leadership was engaging in its own hateful conduct, SPLC was thrust into turmoil.
In March 2019, a group of SPLC employees wrote to the organization’s leadership, warning that “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racism threaten the moral authority of this organization and our integrity along with it.”
Following the termination of SPLC co-founder Morris Dees for misconduct, other employees said leadership had been “complicit in decades of racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment and/or assault.”
In that same month, the New York Times reported then-SPLC President Richard Cohen announced his resignation amid charges his organization engaged in racism and sexual harassment.
In keeping with its promotion of gender ideology, Learning for Justice is opposed to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, referring to it as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, and tweeted about SPLC’s lawsuit against it:
#Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is an attempt to silence and erase the identities of LGBTQ students and families.
— Learning for Justice (@learnforjustice) July 30, 2022
Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. emphasized in a tweet that the Biden U.S. Education Department’s own promotion of gender ideology via its proposed changes to Title IX “to force schools to change policies, such as allowing men to play on female sports teams, men to room w/females on school trips, etc.” is “guidance” and “is NOT law & did not follow rulemaking procedure.”
On June 23rd, @USedgov proposed changes to force schools to change policies, such as allowing men to play on female sports teams, men to room w/ females on school trips, etc. under Title IX sex discrimination laws.
This guidance is NOT law & did not follow rulemaking procedure. pic.twitter.com/HoFmV3pY1g
— Manny Diaz Jr. (@SenMannyDiazJr) July 29, 2022
Learning for Justice also guides teachers and schools in “action civics,” such as providing resources in how to organize a student voter registration drive.
When organizing a student #voterregistration drive, we must remember that not everyone is eligible to vote.
These recommendations will help ensure that no student feels excluded during your voter registration drive. https://t.co/JujTr3w5OT
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) August 2, 2022
“This is part of a national effort in schools to ‘break the binary’ by confusing young children about biological sex and indoctrinating them into believing that gender is a spectrum,” Erika Sanzi, director of outreach for Parents Defending Education, said in a statement Monday about the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s gender ideology resource recommendations, Fox News Digital reported.
“The Department of Education should delete these ideology-based resources from their website and anyone teaching gender fluidity to 3-year olds does not belong in a classroom,” she said.
Our LGBTQ+ colleagues, especially nonbinary and trans, need support to counter anti-LGBTQ attitudes and policies.
This Q&A explains how we can support nonbinary colleagues and create more inclusive school environments. https://t.co/4n6DWXhL36
— Learning for Justice (@learnforjustice) July 25, 2022
The department, nevertheless, defended its gender identity webpage in a statement Fox News Digital published Tuesday.
“The children who attend our schools represent the diverse backgrounds and cultures of our commonwealth, and that includes Pennsylvanians with various gender identities and expression,” wrote communications director Casey Smith, and added:
It is incumbent upon us to support ALL learners, and make them ALL feel welcome in their schools and communities. This commonwealth was founded on the principles of inclusion and belonging, and we must ensure that we continue to make our neighbors feel safe. The equity, inclusion and belonging (EIB) resources we are providing to schools are optional supports that they can use to foster a sense of belonging in their school.
The Star News Network reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for additional comment and is awaiting a response.
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