On September 14, 2022, City Journal reported that the Michigan Department of Education “adopted a radical gender theory program that promotes gender ‘fluidity’ beginning in elementary school and encourages teachers to facilitate the sexual transition of minors without parental consent.” The news outlet acquired a document from the government agency that claims to offer “8 virtual trainings” that cover topics such as “understanding identities and student experiences, law and policy, student voice, navigating biases, classroom strategies, best practices, student information systems, and GSA clubs.” One area of focus includes keeping the gender identity of students a secret from parents.
These training videos were created by the “Michigan Department of Education’s LGBTQ+ Students’ Project.” Topics promoted in the document include:
- Laying the Foundation: Understanding the Identities and Experiences of LGBTQ+ Students in Michigan
- When Bias Gets in the Way: How to Recognize and Address Barriers to Supporting LGBTQ+ Students and Families
- Listening to Understand: LGBTQ+ Students Discuss Their Experiences in Michigan Schools
- The Power of GSAs: Getting your School’s Club Up and Running!
- Stay Current: Legal and Policy Issues Pertaining to LGBTQ+ Students and School Staff
- Safe, Supportive and Inclusive Classrooms: Practical Strategies for Affirming LGBTQ+ Students
- From the School Bus to the School Board: School-Wide Policies and Best Practices to Support LGBTQ+ Students
- Making Your Student Information System Work for You: Accurately Reflecting Student Gender Identities in Your SIS
City Journal reported on the lessons taught in the training videos. In one of the presentations, the argument was made that gender is on a spectrum. City Journal reported:
In one presentation, trainer Amorie Robinson, who describes herself as a “Black, masculine-identified, cisgendered lesbian baby boomer” and uses the “African name” Kofi Adoma, says that “we’ve been conditioned and we’ve been acculturated in this particular culture that gender is binary.” But teachers should know that, in fact, gender is a spectrum, including identities such as “gender non-binary,” “gender fluid,” “gender queer,” “gender non-conforming,” and “bi-gender.”
City Journal reported that Kim Phillips-Knope is the “project lead of the LGBTQ+ Students Project.” The news outlet quoted her in stating that “schools should be using the name and pronouns that students go by.” The training material also “teaches school employees how to facilitate the sexual transition of children under their care, while keeping the process a secret from parents.” City Journal explained that “the trainers explicitly tell educators that they should keep a student’s new name, pronouns, and sexual identity confidential, including from family, unless otherwise directed by the child.” This included even when a child has suicidal thoughts.
Christopher Rufo also reported on Twitter that the Michigan Department of Education issued a statement “defending its radical gender theory program.” The government agency stated:
The Michigan Department of Education believes that protecting and respecting all children takes the partnership of parents, educators, and students. Family engagement is foundational to work with and on behalf of children, and collaborative relationships among parents, families, educators, and school staff are necessary to support the health, wellbeing, and academic success of every student. School staff are encouraged to work closely with parents to meet the needs of their LGBTQ+ students because of the central role that the support of parents and other caregivers plays in a young person’s life.