Article
September 29, 2022

Pronouns Unbound

San Francisco Unified School District facilitates secret child sexual transitions and allows students to identify as “it.”

by Christopher F. Rufo

San Francisco Unified School District has released a guidebook for teachers to facilitate secret child sexual transitions and to let students use the pronoun “it” at school.

According to documents obtained from a whistleblower, in 2021 the district celebrated “International Pronouns Day,” teaching students that they can adopt a wide range of genders and sexual identities. In elementary school, the district tells students that they may not “feel like a boy OR a girl” and can identify as “non-binary” and use “they” pronouns. For secondary students, the district teaches that they can be part of the “bisexual umbrella” and identify as “fluid,” “pansexual,” “omnisexual,” “hetero-, homo-, lesbi-curious,” “hetero-, homo-, lesbi-flexible,” and “queer.”

The district also released a guide on students who use “it” pronouns, explaining to teachers that “we are increasingly seeing students using the pronoun ‘it’” at school. The guidebook explains that using “it” as a pronoun “has a long history being used as a slur to dehumanize trans and gender non-conforming folks” but functions as a gender-identity version of the “n-word,” which was “reclaimed” by African-Americans. The guidebook recommends that teachers discuss “it” pronoun usage with their students but ultimately recommends that teachers “affirm their right to use whatever pronoun feels right to them.”

To assist in this process, the district published a worksheet called “Elementary Name and Pronoun Information Sheet,” which teachers can use to facilitate gender transitions for their K-5 students. The document tells children that they may choose a different name and set of pronouns than the ones they use at home, and that this new identity will be kept secret from their parents. The sheet asks: “What is your official name?”; “What name would you like me to call you in class?”; “What name would you like me to use with your grown-ups?”; “Would you like me to call you a boy, a girl, or something else?”

The district’s policy begins with pronouns but ends with the possibility of more serious interventions. By secondary school, San Francisco Unified students can join “Q Groups,” which are designed to “support BIPOC middle and high school queer, transgender, gender nonconforming, and questioning youth in the school setting” and to “connect students to mental health professionals and clinics that offer gender-affirming health services.” In other words, the sexual-transition process might start in elementary school with “they/them” pronoun usage in the classroom and end in high school with puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and gender surgery.

San Francisco Unified’s policy subverts basic parental rights. The district is playing a dangerous game, facilitating child gender and sexual transitions without notifying or gaining the consent of their families. This is intentional. The district explicitly encourages teachers to prioritize ideology over parental interests and, according to one document, recommends that teachers identify parents as “caregiver 1 and caregiver 2 instead of mother and father”—a practice that assumes that parents are interchangeable and incidental. “[Students] have the right to be ‘out’ at school, and to not have that information that they are ‘out’—with new pronouns, with a new identity—in any way shared with those folks at home,” said the district’s LGBTQ programs director, Kena Hazelwood. In addition, the district does not allow parents to opt children out of lessons on “gender identity” and “sexual orientation,” which are incorporated into the curriculum for English, social studies, arts, and other subjects.

Yet, the future of gender ideology in San Francisco Unified and other public-school districts remains uncertain. On the one hand, radical gender theory appears deeply entrenched in many districts that have adopted “gender identity” as a foundational element of their pedagogy. On the other hand, the successful parental revolts against far-left school board officials in San Francisco and against critical race theory across the country show that gender ideology may not be as deeply embedded as it seems. But unless parents mobilize, they could find themselves reduced to numbered “caregivers,” and their children will be taught by ideologues.

Originally published in City Journal.

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