Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request to the Arrowhead Union High School District in Wisconsin and received lessons and materials used within the district that feature transgender topics and the idea that gender is on a spectrum. In materials used for a “Human Relations Course” in the fall semester of 2020, an “Aspects of Identity” chart was shown in a class that teaches “sex,” “gender identity,” “gender expression,” and “sexual orientation” are on a spectrum.
The materials used for the class also included a document titled “How to Be an Ally to Transgender People.” The document featured guidelines for students, including pushing students to be activists for transgender issues. The following are excerpts taken from the guidelines in the document:
- Don’t assume you can tell what gender a person is, what bathroom they belong in or what pronoun they go by simply by appearance.
- Use pronouns that reflect people’s gender presentation, not their biological sex (e.g., use “he” for someone born female but who identifies and expresses himself as male).
- Use gender-neutral language when possible, such as partner or spouse instead of boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife.
- Be aware of evolving language around gender and try to use the most current and respectful terms.
- Challenge your own ideas about gender roles and expectations by reading, talking to others and educating yourself.
- Work to change the policies and the environment in your school or community to be more transgender-friendly. Advocate for safe restrooms and locker rooms, inclusive language on forms and records, anti-bullying and other policies that include gender identity, and school traditions (e.g., yearbook, prom) that don’t discriminate on the basis of gender expression.
Multiple videos were also included with this lesson. One is titled “Becoming Me.” The description of the video states: “Eight families with transgender and gender non-conforming children ranging in ages from 5 to 25 share their stories. With the healthy development of their children at stake, parents must confront binary perceptions of gender, widespread transphobia and controversial parenting decisions.” Another video is titled “When Did You Choose to Be Straight?“
PDE also received materials from a “Health Education Course.” One document from the course is a group of slides with a lesson titled “Understanding Sexual Orientation: How I Feel, What I Do and Who I Am” from the organization “Advocates for Youth.” The organization is known for providing schools with lesson materials that promote gender ideology and transgender issues. The slides attempt to teach students about perceived sexual orientation and provides examples of how students identify as “gay,” “bisexual,” or “queer.”
Another group of slides in the document is titled “Understanding Gender” and is also from Advocates for Youth. The lesson attempts to teach students that “biological sex” and “gender” are different. The lesson states: “If you were to close your eyes, how you see yourself based on those body parts is your gender identity.” The lesson then states: “In most cases how people feel when they close their eyes matches what they see in the mirror.” The lesson calls this “cisgender.” The opposite is described as “transgender.”
Another document for the “Health Education Course” features a “Circles of Sexuality” diagram. One category on this diagram is listed as “sexual identity” and includes “biological gender,” “gender identity,” “gender role,” and “sexual orientation.”
PDE received documents pertaining to an an advanced placement (AP) English course. In a schedule of lessons for the course in May of the 2021-2022 school year, students were provided with lessons that appeared to attack the idea of masculinity and that pushed transgender issues. In one lesson, students discussed an article titled “Toxic Masculinity is Killing Men.” Students were also asked: “What do you think are the consequences of America’s view of masculinity?”
In the next day’s lesson, students watched a TED Talk titled “A powerful poem about what it feels like to be transgender.” Students are then told to “discuss what lines stuck out to you or what new information you learned.” Students were also provided with TED Talks titled “What doctors should know about gender identity” and “How to talk (and listen) to transgender people.” PDE was told that the materials are no longer used in the AP English course.
PDE received a document titled “Controversial Parenting Project Description” from a “Parenting Course.” The document explains that “as new parents, there are tons of choices that need to be made to ensure the safety and proper growth and development of your children.” The document is a project for students to complete. The following directions are provided:
You will be researching a controversial parenting topic to share with our class. You will be working individually or with a partner to research both sides to a controversial parenting topic. You will put your research into a GoogleSlides presentation (or similar format) that will be shared with the class.
Part of the project includes students detailing the positives and negatives of both sides of each topic. One parenting topic students can choose deals with both sides of “gender neutrality” or “identifying genders.” Another topic students can choose deals with both sides of “abortion” or “adoption.”