Twenty Republican members of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives this week called on acting Pennsylvania Education Secretary Eric Hagarty to reverse controversial state guidelines concerning schools’ treatment of sex and gender.
On a webpage titled “Creating Gender-Inclusive Schools and Classrooms,” the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) calls “binary gender,” e.g., the idea that gender and biological sex are properly denoted as either “male” or “female,” a “faulty concept.” The document also suggests that teachers host a “gender-neutral day” for students above the second grade wherein kids would identify ways in which they will eschew gender stereotypes on that day. Elsewhere, the guidance counsels teachers to ask a student his or her gender identity before assuming the right pronouns by which to call the child.
The lawmakers said if the department does not rescind the advisory material, Hagarty, who Democratic Governor Tom Wolf appointed this spring to replace retiring Secretary Noe Orgtega, should resign.
“The PA Department of Education and all K-12 public school faculty and administrators have an obligation to educate, not indoctrinate,” State Representative Stephanie Borowicz (R-Lock Haven) said in a statement. “For the sake of our children, Pennsylvania’s acting Education Secretary needs to either actively remove all traces of Gender Theory Indoctrination currently plastered throughout the department’s website/curriculum or immediately submit his resignation. This is precisely why the Legislature needs to enact an enforceable Parental Bill of Rights so families can freely direct the upbringing of their children without inappropriate sexual content or demoralizing, gender-neutral pronouns invading our taxpayer-funded classrooms.”
Borowicz’s colleague Barb Gleim (R-Carlisle) said the commonwealth guidelines would impose ideology of the sort long prohibited in public education and that either they or Hagarty himself must go.
“The secular worldview that there are more than two genders is faulty in and of itself, and can’t be proven, and the source and provided resources for this teaching should be removed from the classroom and the website immediately,” Gleim said. “If the secretary of education continues down this road, I agree that he is unfit to meet the demands of his office.”
The representatives also renewed calls for reforms that would require school districts across the commonwealth to publish their curricula online and recognize parents’ primary stewardship of their children’s healthcare, education and upbringing. Twelve other states have laws to this effect. State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg), who is running for governor and has also denounced the PDE’s gender guidance, is sponsoring such a “Parental Bill of Rights,” though the legislation has yet to receive consideration from the Senate State Government Committee.
Republican legislators managed to pass a curriculum transparency measure last December, though no Democrats in either the House or the Senate backed the bill. Wolf vetoed it, insisting that it “politicizes what is being taught in our public schools” and would be “overly burdensome” upon school administrations.
PDE’s communications office has defended the gender advice, saying it bolsters “the principles of inclusion and belonging” and helps to “ensure that we continue to make our neighbors feel safe.”
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