C: Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 4.0) https://bit.ly/3v6SCIn

The Editors: Opposing the Government’s Transgender Schools Obsession

“We believe that it is neither prudent, nor age-appropriate, to attempt to teach primary school children about ‘what it means to be transgender”.

Those were the words, on Monday, of the Catholic Primary School’s Management Association. “Age appropriate” is the key phrase in that sentence. Primary School children range in age from 4 to 12 years of age.

When judging whether a particular policy should be implemented, the first question that should be asked is this: What problem does it solve? The second question is “what problems might it create?”

In answer to the first question, the apparent problem that the Government has identified – in conjunction, no doubt, with various taxpayer funded lobby groups – is that young children are insufficiently aware of the existence of transgender people. We disagree with the notion that this is a problem at all.

There are many conditions of which young children are, blessedly, unaware. Traditionally, it has been universally accepted that childhood should be as carefree as possible, with the confrontation of difficult questions and scenarios postponed until closer to maturity.

Transgenderism is the very definition of a difficult question: Adults cannot agree on how to deal with it. Across the western world, fierce debates are raging about how to allocate bathrooms, and how to integrate – if we should do so at all – transgender people in women’s sports. There is no agreement in many western countries about the legal recognition for transgender people, or even how, or at what age, they should be able to access body modification treatments. The ethical questions raised by this issue are so profound that they divide every society in which they are discussed.

Is it a problem that twelve year olds are not being asked to consider which side they take in these debates? We do not think it is. We think that parents, ultimately, are the constitutional educators of their children. It is for parents to decide, based on their individual child, how best to address these issues, or if to address them at all. There is no obvious problem here that the education system needs to be called upon to resolve. Let it teach children mathematics, and language, and geography, and history, and focus on developing their minds – as it was ever intended to do.

What is the problem that this policy is intended to solve? A person might be forgiven for thinking that the true purpose of this policy – and the problem it is directed at – is to indoctrinate rather than to educate. That is the reason, we think, that organisations like the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland are using their taxpayer-funded resources to advocate for it. The objective is not, we suspect, to “inform students that transgender people exist”. Rather it is to produce a generation of students with different views on this debate than those held by many of their parents.

But the purpose of the education system is not to indoctrinate. That is why, after all, many of those advocating for this policy so ferociously and hypocritically oppose religious education – even though that, unlike this proposal, is not based on assertions of fact.

The second question is about whether this policy might cause problems. Here, we share the concerns of Catholic Schools. It is simply not credible to suggest that teaching young children that they can change their genders as a matter of fact will not lead to at least some young children deciding that this is something that they wish to do.

Indeed this principle is already accepted by Government in other areas: This is the same Government, remember, which has sought to ban the advertising of sugary drinks to children, or the placement of fast food restaurants near schools, on the very basis that young minds are impressionable and easily tricked.

Consider the following partial extract from the guidelines of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland:

The way in which children perceive and react to marketing communications is influenced by their age, experience and the context in which the message is delivered. For example, marketing communications that are acceptable for young teenagers will not necessarily be acceptable for younger children.

Given that children may imitate what they see in marketing communications, they should not be encouraged, whether directly or indirectly, to copy any practice that might be unsafe.

It is already accepted by state agencies, therefore, that information conveyed to children may influence them in a particular direction, and that information likely to do so should be restricted.

As such, there appears to be one rule for the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland, and another for McDonalds.

It is also true that there are a great many global experts who are increasingly of the view that the growth in the number of young girls in particular expressing a desire to change their gender is a function of social contagion. This hypothesis is backed by data, some of which may be found here:

The proportion of adolescents and young adults identifying as transgender varies considerably across US states. In the state of New York, one in 33 adolescents identify as transgender as compared to one in 179 in Wyoming. Arkansas boasts the largest percentage of young adults identifying as transgender (one in 28) and, about 650 miles to the north, Iowa the lowest (one in 222). There are also reports of more localized spikes in the number of adolescents identifying as transgender or non-binary. One recent study found that nearly one in 10 high school students in a north-eastern school district identified as transgender or non-binary.

These wide variations and localized spikes are consistent with social influences on the likelihood of identifying as transgender (or a related identity). Some of these changes may be related to the laudable goal of removing the stigma associated with a transgender identity. However, the rush to destigmatize, support, and affirm those with gender dysphoria and gender identity issues, combined with social media, has created incentives to mimic these issues to gain support and affirmation. These motivations almost certainly increase false positives and promote harmful, unnecessary medical interventions.

It should be noted that schools in Wyoming do not teach that being transgender is wrong, or shameful. They simply do not mention it at all. But in parts of the United States where there are significant transgender outreach programs and educational initiatives, the number of transgender children is almost six times higher per head of population.

When you teach children that being a particular thing makes them special and different, do not be surprised when many of them discover those feelings in themselves. As the advertising standards agency says: Children may imitate what they see.

All of this is relatively obvious to parents, and to most people. But not, it seems, to the Government.

This has, in this publication’s view, shifted from being a mere disagreement about transgender rights in adult life into becoming something much more sinister: A borderline obsession on behalf of a section of the Governing class, who seek to validate and demonstrate their own sense of progressive tolerance by exposing children to radical and potentially dangerous ideas.

It must be opposed. Because it solves no problems; stands to create many; and is, besides, deeply wrong.

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