Unisex Sex-Ed Classes Are Being Implemented in FCPS Elementary and Middle Schools

The article originally appeared here at FairfaxSchoolsMonitor.com

The Fairfax County public school system (FCPS) has one of the most far-reaching transgender policies in the nation.  Under it a student can change his or her name and gender-indicative pronouns without parental consent, and all other students and school personnel must use those altered designations.  If a student exhibits gender dysphoria at school, FCPS will keep the mental health issue secret from his or her parents unless the student consents, and will support the student’s gender transition with professional counselling without parental consent.  Moreover, a biological male who identifies as female may participate in girls’ athletics and utilize girls’ restrooms and shower rooms, and may even be housed with a female in overnight hotel accommodations, again without parental consent. The county School Board is in open defiance of Virginia laws which make these policies unlawful.  See Fairfax’s Transgender Policy Must Be Challenged,”August 7, 2023.

And yet, transgender advocates are not satisfied.  They want FCPS to regard all distinctions between males and females as arbitrary relics of the past.  Thus, in the 2022-23 school year they convinced a compliant Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC), which makes recommendations about sex education in the county’s public schools, to make two radical proposals: (1) put boys and girls in unisex sex-ed classes from the fourth grade on, and (2) extinguish all linguistic references to boys and girls from the curriculum, replacing them with “assigned male/female at birth,” as if sex were a random designation, having little or no basis in reality.

FCPS conducted a community survey to determine how the public felt about those recommendations.  Not surprisingly, 84 percent of the respondents opposed them.  But the School Board didn’t want to disappoint the advocates by voting them down, so it simply allowed the school year to end without taking a vote.

The transgender lobby is accustomed to getting what its wants.  Thus, last year’s nonaction didn’t suggest the proposals would go away.  It merely meant a more convenient time or method for enacting them would be sought.

This year, FLECAC made some new proposals.  See Why Are Fairfax County’s Public Schools Trying to Groom Our Children,” Washington Examiner, May 15, 2024.

This year’s recommendations don’t explicitly include the most controversial ones from last year.  FCPS has asked for public input on the new proposals.  (A link to the survey is HERE.)  Importantly, FCPS is only asking for comments on the new 2023-24 recommendations; last year’s are not described on the website.  Thus, persons who go to the website will logically and reasonably conclude that FLECAC’s divisive 2022-23 proposals have died a quiet death.

But that’s not so.  At a May 21 work session of the School Board, a participant asked what had happened to the proposal to combine elementary- and middle-school kids in the same sex-ed classes.  In response, the Superintendent disclosed that FCPS will be implementing a “pilot” unisex program in the coming school year in fifteen elementary and middle schools. 

Under the program, parents of kids in the fifteen schools will be given three options: to place their child in the traditional boys-only or girls-only class, to enroll him or her in the unisex class, or to opt him or her out of the program altogether.  The default option will be the unisex class.  Board members in attendance didn’t ask for further details, so there are many unknowns.

Discussion

Disclosure of the “pilot program” raises many questions.

Perhaps I missed it, but I’m not aware that the School Board has approved the pilot program.  At least one member of the Board didn’t know about it until she asked a question at the May 21 work session.  The public has been led to believe that the issue of unisex classes would be decided by the Board.  Has that happened?  If not, why not?  Was a decision made to ease in the program in a quiet way, without the debate that would accompany an open vote?

Do the opinions of constituents matter?  Eighty-four percent of the respondents to FCPS’s survey opposed unisex sex-ed classes.  One would think such overwhelming opposition would be respected.  However, the current School Board chairman, Karl Frisch, questioned the survey at a work session in 2023, speculating that it could have been tainted by out-of-county respondents or by multiple entries by individual respondents.  But even if such manipulation was possible, it doesn’t mean the opposition rate of 84% was overstated, for there would be an equal possibility that the people who favored the proposal manipulated the data in their favor to the same extent, or even more so. And if FCPS’s surveys are as unreliable as Mr. Frisch suggested, why does the school system incur the time and expense of conducting them?

At the same work session, Superintendent Michelle Reid had a different response to the survey: “The majority doesn’t always dictate, right?”  That’s a true statement where public opinion is closely divided (e.g., a 49-51% survey result) or where fundamental rights are concerned (e.g., free speech, due process of law), but those circumstances don’t exist here.  The proposal at hand only presents an issue of policy: What is the most effective, most respectful of privacy, and least controversial way of teaching young children about human sexuality?  It’s hard to find a good basis for rejecting definitive public opinion in a case like this.

What’s the rationale for unisex sex-ed classes?  Parents don’t want it.  Kids don’t want it: Most don’t feel comfortable discussing sexuality issues with classmates of the opposite sex.  Unisex teaching hasn’t been the norm in the past, and I doubt it’s the most common practice today for these young students.   So why does FCPS feel compelled to go down this path? It’s happening because of a tiny minority that wields undue influence in an environment that’s become fertile ground for cutting-edge “progressive” initiatives.  Activists want to eliminate separate-sex classes because (a) there might possibly be one transgender student who doesn’t want to choose between attending the boys’ or the girls’ class, and/or (b) the goal is to eliminate recognition of differences between the sexes.  Are these rationales adequate to force 99+% of the students and parents to conform to the desires of the minority?

Is the pilot program truly a short-term experiment, or is it part of a plan to ease the public into acceptance of an unwanted, permanent program?  If it’s just a test, when and how will it be evaluated?  Will the criteria be objective, or will they be skewed toward a desired result?   For example, data reflecting the percentage of students enrolled in the unisex classes will overstate the true preference for that option because it is the “default” choice; parents who don’t actively make a choice will be presumed to favor unisex teaching.  Will students who have attended the unisex lessons be asked whether they’d have been more comfortable in separate-sex classes?  Will the data from the experiment be open to the public, or will they only be available through contentious and expensive FOIA requests?

At best, the pilot program is an as-yet-unclarified experiment that should be fleshed out with candid information about where it will be conducted, how long it will last, how it will be evaluated, and how a final decision will be made about its future.  At present, without more transparency from FCPS, there are many reasons to be skeptical about why this “experiment” is being conducted, and what the plan may be for the future.

Recommendation

Only a few days remain for public input on FCPS’s online survey.  Using the link above, please consider responding if you haven’t already done so.  Express your opinions about this year’s FLECAC proposals and, of equal or greater importance, about the implementation of unisex sex-ed classes in elementary and middle schools.  Also, consider signing up to speak about the issues at the next meeting of the School Board (June 13) or at the meeting at which the Board will vote on the issues (June 27), and please try to attend these upcoming meetings.

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