San Diego Unified is the latest school district to adopt the principles of academic queer theory and translate them into K-12 pedagogy, with the ultimate goal of dismantling “heteronormativity” and promoting a constellation of new sexual identities, such as “genderqueer,” “non-binary,” “pansexual,” and “two-spirit.”
I have obtained a range of publicly accessible documents from San Diego Unified that reveal the district’s new ideology. The materials follow the basic premise of queer theory: white Europeans created a false “gender binary” and used the categories of “male” and “female” to dominate racial and sexual minorities. A San Diego Unified training for facilitators of LGBTQ student groups argues that this system of “heteronormativity” forces students to conform to these norms: they are “assigned” a sex at birth, pressed into the identities of “man” and “woman,” and expected to have heterosexual relationships culminating in “marriage (and kids).” This “gender binary,” however, is arbitrary, socially constructed, and harmful. It is, in the words of the presentation, a “limited system [that] excludes and oppresses trans, nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people.”
According to the district, the gender binary has created an unjust society that distributes “heterosexual and cisgender privilege,” the sexual analog to the concept of “white privilege.” In the presentation, administrators explain that “a heterosexual/cisgender person automatically receives” this privilege, which “benefits members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups” and “results in institutional power” for straight men and women. Furthermore, the district claims, this sexual privilege is connected to a broader range of privileges and oppressions via the theory of intersectionality. “Racism, classism, heterosexism, etc. do not exist independently,” the presentation reads. “Multiple forms of discrimination interrelate creating a system of oppression.”
What is the solution? To dismantle “heteronormativity” and break the “gender binary.” Following the principles of queer theory, San Diego Unified has created a program of gender-identity instruction with the explicit goal of undermining the traditional conception of sex and promoting a new set of boutique sexual identities, such as “transgender,” “genderqueer,” “non-binary,” “pansexual,” “asexual,” and “two-spirit,” that promise to disrupt the oppressive system of heteronormativity. A series of curriculum documents encourage students to study the basic tenets of queer theory and then examine photographs of gender-nonconforming role models, including a woman with a beard, a boy in a dress, a teenage girl with a “genderqueer” identity, a boy wearing a tiara, and an infant with a “gender neutral baby name.” In another document published by San Diego Unified, administrators celebrate “nonbinary identities,” arguing that there must be a “linguistic revolution to move beyond gender binaries,” including the adoption of the term “Latinx,” which “makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.”
This ideology has already shifted the district’s sexual-education program. In a training produced jointly by San Diego Unified and Planned Parenthood, administrators walk teachers through the constellation of new identities and advise them to eliminate traditional language from their vocabulary. Men are to be called “people with a penis” and women are to be called “people with a vulva,” because, according to the district, some women can have penises and some men can have vulvas. Additionally, the district points out that teachers can assist in a child’s gender transition without notifying parents and that, under California law, minors of any age can consent to pregnancy testing, birth control, and abortion. Finally, the training program includes sample questions on sexuality that teachers might address in the classroom, including: “Is it okay to masturbate?”; “How do gay people have sex?”; “What is porn?”; and “What does semen taste like?” In a related presentation, the district also advises teachers on leading discussions on “how to use a condom” and how to engage in “safer oral sex” and “safer anal sex.”
For now, the continued spread of queer theory and gender ideology in districts such as San Diego Unified appears to be a foregone conclusion. It is remarkable to see the tenets of a once-obscure and controversial academic discipline translated into classroom orthodoxy for children. Parents, however, should begin pushing back. If the case against queer theory as an academic disciple is strong, the case against queer theory as a K-12 pedagogy is even stronger. The goal of “dismantling heteronormativity” is nonsensical and destructive to the basic building blocks of society. To divide the world into man and woman and to encourage the development of families and children is not “oppression,” but a basic process of human nature—one that should not be discarded under the false pretenses of academic postmodernism.
Originally published in City Journal.