Last fall, the Toronto District School Board sent out an alarming survey that students were expected to complete. It was described as a census, but the questions it included went beyond the scope of what most people would consider a typical census.
The document became controversial and was temporarily shelved by the TDSB. A National Post headline covering the controversy described it as a “race-based student census,” which was a reasonable phrase to use because there were many questions focused on race.
But there were also a lot of questions about gender, gender identity and sexuality. The school board created four different surveys, each covering different age groupings: Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3, Grade 4–6, Grade 7–8, and then high school.
There were questions included in the older elementary versions that asked students if they were familiar with the transgender practices of breast-binding and penis-tucking. These have since been removed and are not part of the updated versions on the TDSB website. But the board has never provided an explanation as to why senior staff felt it was appropriate to talk to kids about these matters in the first place.
However, as the surveys currently stand, all of them still ask the child’s gender identity. This includes the ones asked of kindergarten students. (Parents are expected to answer the JK–Grade 3 surveys on behalf of their children, but Grade 4–8 is to be answered in class by the student. The surveys are not anonymous.)
Here’s the question: “Which of the following terms best describe your current gender identity? (Select all that apply)”
And here are the response options: “Boy; Girl; Non-Binary, N.B. or enby; Not sure of my gender identity; Transgender or Trans; Two-Spirit or Indigiqueer; Another identity not in this list (specify); I do not understand this question.”
Why is the education system asking small children if they are transgender? This is a good question that more and more people are asking.
This past week, protests occurred across the country opposing this increasing presence of gender ideology in the education system. The 1 Million March 4 Children, as it was called, was primarily organized by Muslim parents who repeated the slogan “Leave Our Kids Alone.” They were joined, though, by other groups including Christians, conservative activists, and feminists concerned about the trans movement infringing on women’s spaces. There were also some gay and lesbian voices in the mix who believe the trans movement has gone too far.
In response, Liberal, NDP and union activists attempted to label it a “hate” protest against all aspects of LGBT identity. Militant trans activists also showed up to counter-protest.
This response was a disingenuous one, where the opponents either didn’t stop to listen to what was actually being said or knew but deliberately twisted reality to serve their interests.
The way they’d tell it, you’d think parents were angry that mere acceptance of differences was being taught in the classroom. But what’s mostly going on is many parents are simply troubled by how something as incredibly serious as life-altering gender reassignment surgery is being brought up casually to young children—promoted even—at a time when academic excellence, the purpose for being in class in the first place, is significantly declining.
Our priorities are skewed. The education system needs a reboot.
While the majority of politicians publicly criticized their constituents for making their voices heard on curriculum matters, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs led the way in offering a moderate and conciliatory response.
“Parents want the role they play in their child’s life respected within the school system. I agree,” he posted to social media, along with pictures of him meeting with parents at a protest. “And we can do that while still providing a safe and welcoming environment for all students.”
All reasonable people can surely agree that the school board survey questions asking young kids if they’re familiar with breast binding and inquiring as to whether a JK child is transgender or not are inappropriate for the age and setting. Yet clearly some senior staff within the school system think it was OK.
It’s this sort of overreach that parents of all walks of life are right to be speaking out against.