C: Dev Asangbam & Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

The Government’s “gender is a spectrum” curriculum retreat

An annoying thing that sometimes happens in this game is when you get scooped: When another journalist publishes a story that you’d been working on, and were about to publish, and thus gets all the credit for it. In this instance, I was a little miffed to find myself scooped yesterday by Patrick O’Donoghoe in the Sunday Times – being as I was preparing to publish this very story this morning. But fair play, he got it first:

A lesson plan that would teach junior pupils that gender identity is “experienced along a spectrum” has been dropped after consultation with the public.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) agreed to change a “learning outcome” in a draft for a new curriculum for social, personal and health education (SPHE), according to papers seen by The Sunday Times.

The original proposal aimed to help students “appreciate that sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are core parts of human identity and that each is experienced along a spectrum”.

The final specification for the curriculum, which is yet to be published, references a wider range of characteristics as determinants of a pupil’s identity. It will no longer teach that gender identity and expression are on a spectrum.

To get slightly technical, the matter at hand was not necessarily that children were to be taught the theory that gender is a spectrum: That is, indeed, a thing that many people in this society have, for whatever reason, come to believe. No, the issue was that children were to be taught this as fact: that being a boy or a girl was essentially a single point on a line which they had chosen, and that they were entirely free to change their gender at any time of their choosing, should the mood take them.

This new wording, I would worry, does leave it up to teachers a little too much. There certainly does not seem to be an active prohibition on teachers telling students that their gender is a choice – all that is happening is that teaching this will no longer be a requirement of the curriculum. If you are someone who thinks, for example, that there are certain schools with activist teachers who see their job as less to educate your child than indoctrinate them, then I would suggest that your sighs of relief here be short lived, and not a substitute for vigilance.

But that said, this still does represent a significant victory for parental power, and a significant setback for those lobby groups who had been pushing for the new curriculum to, essentially, teach a course in transgenderism. When something is described as a “learning outcome”, that means that it is the state’s will that a student, having gone through their education, emerges with the understanding that the thing they were taught is true as a matter of fact. In this case, students will no longer be expected to understand as a matter of fact that their gender identity can float around along a spectrum over the course of their lives.

Interestingly, one might hope that gay and lesbian people would take some comfort from these changes also: Not only did the original curriculum suggest that gender identity was on a spectrum, but also sexual orientation. Meaning, of course, that essentially students were to be taught by implication that if you can change your gender, you can also change who you are attracted to.

This was from the same Government that, by the way, is seeking to ban “conversion therapy” – which teaches much the same thing: That gay and lesbian people can be “cured”.

Indeed, talk to some gay people and you will find that this is one of their primary objections to transgender ideology in schools: The confusion which it introduces in young people who find themselves same-sex attracted: Whereas until now, we have come to understand such people as simply gay, there are those teenagers exposed to transgender thought who instead feel that maybe they were born in the wrong body: “I like girls, therefore I must really be a boy”, or vice versa. If it stopped there, perhaps that would be tolerable: But of course, it does not stop there, and often leads to cross-sex hormones, surgeries, infertility, and a life that is objectively more difficult than that of a regular gay person, these days.

This is, I would suggest to parents, but a minor victory.

If your children are not to hear this stuff in the classroom, I wouldn’t relax. Because chances are they will hear it on tiktok, or see it on Instagram, or read about it on Reddit. And the new curriculum might not promote the idea, but as expressed in many schools it will certainly be open to the idea that what your kids are seeing on the internet is factual.

Just because a Government is, for once, backing away from doing active harm, do not mistake that for the Government doing good. This particular issue is not going away.

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