County Schools’ Sex-Ed Recommendations Flout State Law and Science

By Laura Bryant Hanford

The Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) Board will soon vote on major departures from science education in favor of radical gender ideology.  The 2022 recommendations of the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC), sourced from activist publications, include doing away with sex-separate sex-ed instruction, replacing the terms “boy” and “girl” with “assigned female or male at birth,” teaching that sex is not binary and teaching gender ideology in elementary grades. 

The unanimity of the FLECAC vote—and, if history holds true, of School Board approval—is all the more troubling as the recommendations directly contravene not only Virginia state statutes but evidence-based science itself. The deadline for public comment is Dec. 1.

The Virginia Board of Education guidelines require “teaching sensitive content in gender-separated classes.”  FLECAC recommendations would combine sexes across grades in precisely such areas (reproduction, puberty, etc). State guidelines further dictate that while local school boards may develop their own sex-ed, they must use the content parameters in Virginia Standards of Learning, which for elementary schools do not include gender identity instruction.  FLECAC blithely ignores these statutory requirements.  

Most damaging is FLECAC’s push to teach even the youngest students gender ideology, which elevates inner feelings of identity above biological sex in both science and law, and teaches that children may be born in the wrong body. Gender ideology effectively eradicates protections for women and girls.  

Among FLECAC’s proposed additions is an instructional video explaining that “in addition to girl parts and boy parts, there are also people who have different parts… intermediate parts… who don’t fit within a traditional binary gender system… who are trans…people who have ovaries, and people who have testicles.”  This convoluted terminology comes straight from the transgender radical activist playbook. It conflates biology and ideology by misappropriating a medical disorder (“intersex”, affecting an estimated .05 percent of people) to claim sex is not binary. 

Indeed, the FLECAC recommendations are sourced straight from the radical materials of the advocacy organization Gender Spectrum (FLECAC Appendix A), whose handbook Schools in Transition has been used by activist school boards as a template for inculcating gender theory and secretly transitioning students. It tells educators they possess “unique insight into the student’s needs without the biases parents can or are perceived to have” and may need to testify in court against parents to “highlight to the judge the importance of affirming the student’s gender identity.”

Gender Spectrum’s sex-ed guidelines are the basis for FLECAC’s recommendations, including stripping references to “boys” and “girls” so that elementary kids will learn about persons “assigned male or female at birth.”  The shocking justification for FLECAC’s related proposal to remove sex-separated instruction is that it prepares students (as young as 4th grade) for “honest and receptive communication with potential romantic and/or sexual partners.” 

Most egregiously, Gender Spectrum issues medical recommendations cloaked as “inclusiveness,” a strategy reflected throughout the FLECAC recommendations. The handbook validates puberty blockers and hormone therapies, preemptively dismissing irreversible sterilizing effects by instructing students they will “have many options for creating their own families.” It characterizes teaching and affirming transgender identities as “life-affirming for all students, and life-saving for some.”  And yet, the evidence does not support this statement, either that gender affirmation effectively ameliorates mental health or that it resolves suicidal ideation. 

European nations have abandoned the US affirmation model after systematic evidence reviews concluded evidence was poor and risk high (the U.S. refuses to perform such reviews). Social affirmation is considered psycho-social intervention, the first step in a medical protocol.  It can make dysphoria more likely to persist, leading to greater risk of irreversible treatments, lifelong medical intervention, and  long-term suicidality.  “Detransitioners” have begun to share–and litigate–the harm they suffered.  Appropriately, lawsuits are also targeting schools.

Yet the 2022 FLECAC recommendations are not sourced from medical evidence, but from activist organizations which benefit from schools promoting their materials, and in turn endorse School Board candidates. Planned Parenthood, one of the largest hormone providers, is prominently featured as a sex-ed resource and profits from student referrals. 

In the words of evolutionary biologist Dr. Colin Wright, “It is the duty of parents to apply their real-life experience and perspective in order to ensure their children make it through childhood with healthy bodies and minds. Gender ideology indoctrination does the exact opposite.”  

Fairfax parents have only days remaining, until Dec. 1, to submit their comments to the School Board.  

This analysis was first published by The Fairfax County Times. The author, Laura Bryant Hanford, has been an FCPS parent since 2015 and served on FLECAC from 2015 to 2018. She was a lead congressional staff drafter of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and also served at the US Embassy in Romania as the officer in charge of human rights, focusing on ethnic minorities, women and refugees.

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