South Dakota Considers Banning Gender Identity Lessons in Public Schools

A sign outside a classroom taken in 2016. |

The state of South Dakota is considering banning teaching on gender identity, with legislation pending that would prohibit such content from public elementary and middle school curriculum.

According to the Associated Press, the bill's sponsor, Republican state senator Phil Jensen from Rapid City, said he has constituents concerned it might become an issue in schools. The senator says students are failing to master the basics and expressed concern about teaching children topics that are not age-appropriate.

"I think we need to be focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic," Jensen said.

Education Department spokeswoman Mary Stadick Smith told AP in an email that the she is not aware of gender identity being taught in schools.

The bill, SB 160, reads simply: "No instruction in gender identity or gender expression may be provided to any student in kindergarten through grade seven in any public school in the state."

Though the Midwestern state legislature is overwhelmingly Republican, the bill is not guaranteed to pass. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, also a Republican, recently said that he doesn't "know that our standards of education are properly the subject of legislative enactments."

In 2016, Daugaard refused to back legislation requiring transgender students to use bathroom facilities that correspond with their biological sex.

The bill is opposed by LGBT rights groups who liken it to laws in other states that limit positive portrayals of homosexuality, which some call "no-promo-homo" policies.

Terri Bruce, a transgender man who fought against past efforts in South Dakota, said the new proposal would communicate to transgender children that "they are somehow not human."

The idea that sex is a social construct and is something that medical professionals or parents assign babies at birth and that individuals can self-identify with the gender of their choosing is a relatively new phenomena that has been making its way into public policy in recent years.

While South Dakota puts forward proposals to restrict teaching on gender identity, other states are developing materials to teach it.

The Massachusetts education department, for instance, now trains school employees about how to talk about gender identity with students, faculty and members of the community.

The AP report cited a parent with a transgender son who insisted that "[b]eing transgender is innate. It is who you are, and learning about it in school will only make your child more compassionate and empathetic and tolerant."

"It's not going to make them transgender, and I think every parent wants a child who is capable of compassion and open-mindedness."

The Christian Post reported last week that Stella Morabito, a contributor to The Federalist and an expert on propaganda, warned that gender ideology is one of the best examples of the kind of psychological manipulation techniques that power elites employ to condition people to not think critically.

She explained that although teaching this is often couched in empathy and noble-sounding intentions, forcing people to use words and pronouns that do not correspond to their biological sex but of their choosing is not compassionate nor respectful, arguing that it "destabilizes thought because it totally undermines the entire structure of our language."

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