Controversy Sparked Over Gender Identity On PA Education Dept. Website
Calling it “Gender Theory Indoctrination,” a coalition of Republicans are demanding the resignation of the PA Secretary of Education.
Justin Heinze,Patch Staff
Posted Tue, Aug 9, 2022 at 12:08 pm ETReplies (68)
HARRISBURG, PA — A large group of Republicans are calling for the resignation of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education over the inclusion of gender identity information on the Department’s website.
The group of 21 GOP lawmakers in the state House labeled the website — which explains terms like transgender, assigned gender, binary gender and includes links to federal agency pages on gender-based violence and equality — as “Gender Theory Student Indoctrination.”
“The PA Department of Education is espousing a secular worldview on their website, and worldviews have been barred from public schools since the 1960s,” one of the GOP lawmakers, State Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland), said in a statement. “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.”
Of particular concern in the letter signed by the lawmakers is the notion of a gender-neutral day, which the page offers as a way to teach students in grades 3-12 about gender stereotypes.
The letter comes immediately following coverage in national conservative media regarding the site, with one Pennsylvania Republican telling Fox News last week that it was tantamount to “grooming.” The Fox story was preceded by coverage in outlets like Breitbart and anger over the Department spread on social media.
Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin), calling it “reprehensible indoctrination lunacy,” related the situation to House Bill 1332, or the “Empowering Parents With Curriculum Transparency” bill, which passed the legislature in Dec. 2021 but was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf. The legislation would’ve required school districts to allow parents to readily access information online regarding their child’s curriculum.
“It’s about bringing the fights that get started on Fox News to the kindergarten classroom near you,” State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) said during a legislative hearing. “It’s about forcing our overburdened school districts to post every single thing they do online, so that right wing muckrakers, or for that matter, left wing muckrakers, can waste precious educational resources.”
The Department of Education maintains that the resources are an effort to ensure fairness and equity and to protect children from bullying.
“Republicans don’t want to talk about topics that truly impact Pennsylvanians,” Beth Rementer, a spokesperson for Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, told PennLive. “Students shouldn’t be leveraged as an extremist talking point. Hate has no place in Pennsylvania. The Wolf administration will continue to support policies to keep children in the classroom and safe from bullying.”
The Republican lawmakers who signed the letter include Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton), Rep. Mike Armanini (R-Elk), Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Butler), Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks), Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), Rep. Joe Hamm (R-Lycoming), Rep. Mike Jones (R-York), Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York), Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), Rep. David Maloney (R-Berks), Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), Rep. Leslie Rossi (R-Westmoreland), Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin)• Rep. Brian Smith (R-Jefferson), Rep. Perry Stambaugh (R-Perry), and Rep. David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster).
Huge California County Approves Measure of Possible Secession for 2022 Midterms
Interstate 10 West make on July 17, 2012 in San Bernardino, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages)
By Jack Phillips
August 5, 2022 Updated: August 5, 2022
The measure, which was voted on 4–0 by the supervisors Wednesday, would ask San Bernardino residents: “Do the citizens of San Bernardino County want the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to study all options to obtain its fair share of state and federal resources, up to and including secession?”
“Now, that last line is the most controversial,” said Supervisor Curt Hagman during Wednesday’s meeting about the proposal. “It’s a question we’re going to put to our residents. Do they want to include all options to go after [the] fight for their fair share of taxpayer dollars?” he asked.
Over the years, some California counties have evaluated the possibility of seceding from the Golden State due to monetary, cultural, and other differences. In 2016, a failed ballot measure would have split California into six states, while a 2018 proposition that also failed would have created three new states.
But San Bernardino County is the largest county in California and United States, spanning more than 20,000 square miles and home to well over 2 million people. Cities like Fontana, San Bernardino, Victorville, Hesperia, and other municipalities are within its borders, which stretch from Los Angeles County to the California-Nevada and California-Arizona state lines.
Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. said he doesn’t want the county to split from California but is interesting in studying whether its residents should receive more state and federal funds.
“I do think we have to look at anything we can do to enhance services for our residents,” Baca said, reported The Herald Sun newspaper. “I’m not in favor of seceding. I’m proud to be from California. I love California.”
Hagman concurred with Baca’s assertion and noted that it would be acceptable “if the worst thing that comes out of this is a study that will be ammunition for our state representatives to fight for more money for us.”
“San Bernardino is a large county in both terms of size and population, with many pieces of critical infrastructure,” Barbara Rodriguez, an accountant who assists in state and local fund tax breakdowns, told the California Globe Thursday. “And the people there are feeling like they are being gipped. Like most counties, they are looking for more money coming in, and seeing their county be so low on the list has really incensed them.”
Supervisor Janie Rutherford, meanwhile, said she doesn’t “believe it’s feasible politically or financially to secede from California,” adding, “I absolutely joined with my constituents who have a growing palpable anger about everything.”
Many Californias are dealing with daily problems, including heavy taxes, the nation’s highest gas prices, and widespread homelessness, added Rutherford.
California, she said, has an “ineffective justice system, broken schools, [and] the state’s overreaching counterproductive regulatory schemes, housing and affordability to the ineptness of the state’s preparation for this drought.”
“People pay high taxes, and they do not believe those taxes are coming back to their neighborhoods to address the problems they’re most concerned about,” Rutherford said. “That’s what we heard from our public last week, and there is nothing crazy at all about being angry about those things.”
BREAKING NEWS REPORTER
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
Kyle Sammin: No one is banning books in America
Conflating new standards in a school library — such as removing books with a level of pornographic content that they cannot even be shared in public school board meetings — with actual censorship is an obvious lie.
Last week saw the latest chapter in the fight over what books public schools have in their libraries. After a weeks-long debate, the Central Bucks School Board voted 6-3 for a new policy of reviewing school books for inappropriate sexual content. Proponents of having explicit books in children’s libraries cried censorship, drawing parallels to various oppressive regimes around the world.
Here’s the thing, though: no one anywhere in America is banning books. That has been true for longer than most of us have been alive. This is all a gross exaggeration that cheapens the fight against actual censorship that is still going on around the world today. China has censorship, with lengthy jail terms for those who violate the law. America doesn’t.
The book at the center of this fake firestorm, Gender Queer: A Memoir, is a graphic novel with pictures of, among other things, teenagers performing oral sex on each other. The couple in question is not heterosexual (which is kind of the point of the memoir) but as one concerned parent said at the Central Bucks meeting, any such depiction should be “inappropriate to have in a school library. If it were art depicting a heterosexual couple engaging in oral sex it should also be excluded.” Some of the images were so graphic that school boards refused to allow them to be shown — in the very meetings where the book was discussed!
So what happens if you think your child actually should be reading this graphic novel? No worries: it is available for purchase anywhere in America!
As I write this, Amazon lists Gender Queer as the #1 Best Seller in LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels. That’s admittedly a niche category, but it goes to show that getting your hands on this book is incredibly easy. You can get it for $8.99 on Kindle, delivered immediately. Go ahead, look it up yourself.
Part of the protest is hyperbole, but part is a real misunderstanding of what our rights mean. The First Amendment guarantees that the government cannot stop you from speaking or publishing anything. In this case, Central Bucks is abiding by that rule. You can get this book — or any other book — at bookstores across the district and by mail from Amazon and other booksellers.
What you can’t do is force the government to pay for it. That’s the way rights work — they preserve our liberty, not subsidize it. One half-witted sign photographed outside the CBSD meeting read “ban guns, not books”. Well, you’re half-right, crazy sign-wavers: the school district cannot ban either of these things. But, at the same time, they also can choose not to have them in their schools.
Even the biggest library has its limits, and none can contain anything but a small fraction of the world’s literature. In deciding which books to include, a library — especially a school library — must impose some sort of standards. A standard that excludes graphic descriptions of sexual activity seems like a pretty commonsense rule. It’s a no-brainer, really. There are millions of books, excluding a few of the more explicit ones does not make America into a fascist, pro-censorship regime — especially since anyone with nine dollars can get a copy for themselves very easily.
If it is so easy, why elevate the protest to this level of hysteria? Part of it is about control. The people running government schools have a massive responsibility: educating the nation’s youth. About nine in ten kids attend government-run schools, so what they choose to teach there matters. Traditionally, these schools have taught skills for life, but they have also always included some sort of inculcation into mainstream community values — civics, patriotism, and that sort of thing.
When the values taught in a school vary from those practiced in the community that built them and funds them, there will be pushback. And that pushback will cause countervailing pushback from the professional elite that thinks the public has no say in how their community is governed — not when it conflicts with the latest ideas in grad school education courses, anyway.
Corporate media and professional lefties will pick up this challenge like any other, not because it is a truly important struggle, but because they were raised on the heroic tales of the civil rights era and want to feel what their parents (or grandparents) felt. The idea of being ordinary, of not being engaged in a titanic struggle for justice, is just unbearable for them.
The cause of those days was a good one, but not every generation is well-placed to engage in a great struggle for justice. The Selma envy of modern lefties makes them charge into every fight with the same vigor as they imagine they would have back then, had they been alive to do it. The right to vote and the fight against segregation were noble struggles, things worth fighting for. The right to show kids a cartoon of a blowjob? It does not have the same resonance.
Our governments — local, state, or federal — do not censor books. Conflating the liberating strife of the past with the petty squabbles of the present does no one any good.
Kyle Sammin is Broad + Liberty’s editor-at-large.