Reader Response: Leaked GUSD Email Shows Disregard for Parents…
Editor’s note: We welcome and receive email feedback from readers and will on occasion publish and respond to them. The following was sent to us by a former Glendale public school teacher:
I recently read the substack article “Leaked GUSD Email Shows Disregard for Parent’s Request on Gender Identity Videos.” All of the articles on the substack have grabbed my attention, but this one brought home the reality of what is going on in the district in which I once taught. The direction the state of California has taken in regards to the Gender Identity standards are deeply concerning. Though I have several reasons, I will share only a few.
One big concern I have is the developmental appropriateness of the gender identity standards. I am reminded of one of Freud’s theories on the psychosexual development of children that is relevant. This stage applies to ages 5-12 – the elementary school child – it states:
“The latency stage is the fourth stage of psychosexual development, spanning the period of six years to puberty. During this stage the libido is dormant and no further psychosexual development takes place (latent means hidden).
Freud thought that most sexual impulses are repressed during the latent stage, and sexual energy can be sublimated towards school work, hobbies, and friendships.
Much of the child’s energy is channeled into developing new skills and acquiring new knowledge, and play becomes largely confined to other children of the same gender.”
As a beginning teacher, I was encouraged to apply developmental theories to classroom practice, and while a theory may not apply to all children, or parts of a theory may not be relevant to certain situations, I found this one holds true. The school age child is not sexual. To my way of thinking, partially from knowledge of this theory and supported by real life experience as a teacher and parent, I question how these gender identity standards are appropriate for the school age (5-12) child? Am I going to unknowingly put ideas into their head? I strongly disagree that it is the place of the schools or the state of California to mandate teaching something that traditionally is the role of the parent.
Yet, teachers will be expected to put their personal values and background knowledge of child development aside and teach the mandated standards. Some, as in the article, will look for their own resources. Your children will have wildly different exposures to these topics depending on the teacher. For example, the teacher described in the article selected video resources I would question. The video by Queer Kids, depicts stereotypes about gay people in manner of dress and hairstyle. The other video, “Love is Love,” is very juvenile and I think most third grade students would find it babyish. I wouldn’t want to insult them with either of the two videos. Young children, and dare I say some older ones, are very easily led, and honestly I wouldn’t trust another adult to impart this information on gender identity to my child.
Years of experience informs me that many students would be quite confused to have these discussions on intimate topics in a classroom setting for various reasons. Culture, religion, mental development to name a few. Also, consider that young children can be at vastly different places along this continuum of psychosexual development, especially for those with special needs such as autism. When I taught older students in sixth grade, having a discussion such as this could easily sexually excite some students, and dare I say males in particular, who experience sometimes embarrassing erections.
Yet another concern would be how each teacher would conduct class discussions before and after such videos are shown. Might not many students, female and male, be uncomfortable to see their teacher discussing these topics? Think back to your own education and imagine. Certainly, I would have been shy and embarrassed. Many students are sensitive and it seems very uncomfortable to have these sexual identity conversations with opposite sex students. Truly, I cannot fathom at all why students as young as third grade are learning about Pride month in school. We know that families have differing values; shouldn’t those be respected on controversial topics?
My instincts tell me that many teachers are not yet going the route of implementing the gender identity curriculum, and they want to protect children for now. However, they know as time passes, they will be expected to implement the lessons. This will come from pressure from top-level GUSD administrators who will be asking the principals how it’s going in regards to the new gender identity standards, as they have clearly embraced these ideas.
Implementation of the standards poses a huge conflict to teachers, who will silently resist behind the closed doors of their classrooms, knowing the union and the high level administrators are very supportive of this agenda. They will talk privately to their trusted colleagues, but few are brave enough to address their concerns directly to an administrator or to some colleagues, such as union reps, if they perceive a potential conflict. This pattern of behavior is common in schools amongst teachers. I also imagine, this gender agenda could push some into an early retirement or a career change if they have the financial resources to do so.
Parents and community members, I would love to know your thoughts on the article. I have more thoughts, but, am interested in reading yours and if you’ve had experiences with these gender identity standards with your own children.