“I Do Not Want 4th Grade Students to Feel Additional Pressure to ‘Choose an Orientation'”
Former Washington assistant state superintendent Erin Jones, an award-winning educator, is under fire for her responses to a conservative blog’s questions on the teaching of sexuality and “transgenderism” in elementary schools.
“We have raised our children to embrace each individual, regardless of race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation,” saysÂ Jones, who also told SWWEducation.orgÂ she has “always been an advocate for the LGBTQ community,”Â
But Jones also told the blog, which posed the same questions to all candidates running to be the next WashingtonÂ State Superintendent of Public Instruction, “I do not think it is developmentally appropriate to talk about gender or sexual orientation with 5 year olds,” although she did not specify why. She also did not speak to 5-year olds who are growing up in households headed by same-sex parents.
“I do not think it is appropriate to talk with 4th graders about sexual orientation,” Jones’ reply continues. “I do not want 4th grade students to feel additional pressure to ‘choose an orientation.’ I am in favor of conversations with middle school students about gender and sexual orientation, as long as the focus is on providing students with information and promoting acceptance,” she added. Jones did notÂ speak to the fact that some children at a very early age already know they are LGBT, or think they may be, and could benefit by having additional information presented in a positive and supportive manner.
Sydney Brownstone atÂ Dan Savage’s Seattle-based blog The Stranger observes, “Jonesâ€™s comments accepted the flawed premise of the right-wing blogâ€™s talking points and language (‘transgenderism’ is a term used mainly by anti-trans activists, and likewise for the idea that a person is able to choose their sexual orientation). Her comments also run contrary to state curriculum guidelines and fly in the face of scientific research about how kids learn and process ideas about gender and sexuality.”
The StrangerÂ points to its own August 25 interview withÂ Jones, saying she “declined to answer directly when asked whether she thinks being gay is a sin. And in a late August endorsement interview with Equal Rights Washington (ERW), the largest group advocating for LGBTQ rights in this state, Jones reportedly talked about LGBTQ identity as a ‘lifestyle.'”
Equal Rights WashingtonÂ “has announced that it cannot support Jones and will be endorsing her unambiguously pro-LGBTQ opponent, Chris Reykdal, a former educator and Tumwater school board member,”Â The Stranger adds.
David Ferguson at Raw Story reports that Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction spokesmanÂ Nathan Olson said:
â€œFor kindergarteners, self-identity is an awareness of gender expression and identity. It could be as simple as asking, â€˜Is it okay for boys to wear pink? Is it okay for girls to play sports?â€™ I wouldnâ€™t say itâ€™s even tackling gender norms, but opening up [studentsâ€™] understanding of what they think of as genderâ€”and thatâ€™s it.â€
Ferguson adds, “When theÂ StrangerÂ asked Jones whether children choose to be LGBTQ, she replied that she doesnâ€™t know.”
â€œI think theyâ€™re born that way,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m not a scientist. I donâ€™t know exactly. I think for most children itâ€™s not a choice.â€
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GOP’s New ‘Bizarre Obsession’ Shows It Has ‘Gone Crazy’: Morning Joe
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped the Republican Party for focusing on a “bizarre obsession” to stoke a culture war that targets vulnerable teenagers.
A proposed draft of a Florida physical education form would require all high school athletes to provide information on their menstrual cycle to state athletic officials, which the “Morning Joe” host bashed as an unnecessary and cruel attack on a minuscule number of transgender teens who play sports.
“The percentage is so small that they’re doing this to every girl in Florida schools?” Scarborough said. “Talk about overkill. Just stop already.”
“I mean, let’s talk about that Florida law,” Scarborough continued. “Can you imagine doing that as a young girl when you were, like, in high school, middle school? Come on, talk about, again, the obsession over 0.003 percent of the population, and then the unbelievably small number of transgender students who are playing sports. The Florida Republican Party has gone crazy. They sent out tons of mailers on this, the obsession, and now they’re making young girls self-report on menstrual cycles because of this bizarre obsession?”
“This is stupid,” he added. “This is another stupid extension of a culture war where he’s trying to create a culture war around something where there is not a war.”
‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History
For the past two decades teenaged women participating in Florida high school athletics have been asked to submit their menstrual history, including the date of their first period, the date of their last period, and how many periods they have had in the last 12 months. The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the organization in charge of coordinating high school athletics in the Sunshine State, will debate later this month if they will make divulging that information mandatory for participating in sports. According to the FHSAA website that board is comprised of 14 men and two women. Not one is a physician or medical professional.
Critics are voicing concerns over a variety of issues, including the right to privacy, the need for the highly personal medical information, who has access to it, how it is stored, and how it could be used against the students, including to determine possible pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, or if the athlete is transgender.
“Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do,” The New Republic reports, calling it “a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.”
The three-page form, called the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, asks:
“When was your first menstrual period?” “When was your most recent menstrual period? “How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?” “How many periods have you had in the last year? and “What was the longest time between periods in the last year?”
A draft form slightly alters the questions, asking instead, “Have you had a menstrual period?” and “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?” in addition to the other three questions.
While it currently states answering is optional, at the end of this month those questions could become mandatory, although the reason for the possible change has not been disclosed.
Because the information is not being given by the athletes to a physician or other medical professional or organization, the information is not subject to HIPAA regulations. And in some school districts the inform action is stored on a third-party platform, possibly exposing it to other entities.
“This is clearly an effort to further stigmatize and demonize transgender people in sports [and] meant to further exclude people who aren’t assigned female at birth in girls sports,” the president of PRISM, a South Florida nonprofit organization that provides sexual health information to LGBTQ+ youth, Maxx Fenning, told The Tampa Bay Times. “Beyond that, I think there’s concern among LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ [students] alike. This is an extremely invasive mode of gleaning into someone’s reproductive history, which is especially dangerous in this post-Roe world we live in.”
TIME adds that critics “have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.”
According to the fan-checking site Snopes, “these written forms with students’ medical information are submitted to school officials, contrary to a number of other states where only a doctor’s signature is required to clear an athlete for play.”
Snopes adds that “concerns grew as many states worked to criminalize abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transgender athletes faced scrutiny. In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks, with only a few exceptions.”
“Any forms (physical or digital) could be subpoenaed. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, nearly all athlete-registration forms moved online, which meant reproductive data for athletes was being stored by a third-party software company called Aktivate. Other counties were also planning to digitize their forms.”
Last October NBC News reported that an Aktivate spokesperson said a student’s information could be removed but only with parental and school district consent.
Image via Shutterstock
George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation
The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.
“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”
“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”
Regardless, Santos is taking action.
The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.
Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.
“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.
It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.
Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.
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