In the 2016 Washington State Superintendent’s race the topic of teacher gender identity came up. Both of the final candidates said there was a need to teach about gender identity….but…they differed as to when. Ms. Jones thought 3rd grade might be reasonable while Mr. Reykdahl said kindergarten was a good place to start.
In 2016 the outgoing State Superintendent of Schools (Randy Dorn) imposed a new set of rules for health and physical education. Under those new “guidelines” the basis for teaching gender identity was introduced.
On August 4, 2017, we contacted Nathan Olson (who is the Director of Communications and Community Outreach) asking for an update. Following is the email exchange.
Summary (if you don’t want to read the exchange)
- The State requires three (3) subjects be taught: HIV prevention, CPR instructions and use of an AED
- OSPI’s position is that it’s up to each school district “how” to comply and choose the materials. This appears to mean that ‘gender identity’ being addressed is up to the district. When we say ‘appears’ read the material for yourself: Health Education K-12 Learning Standards: Focus on Sexual Health
- OSPI ‘may” put out instructions to superintendents in the future.
Bottom line? It’s not clear that OSPI isn’t going to push ‘gender identity’. Local school boards apparently have the discretion as to what to teach and when as it relates to ‘gender identity’. Ask your local school board directors to state their intent and positions.
Email question posed:
Last year, during the election, there was extensive discussion about teaching gender identify starting in kindergarten. Mr. Reykdahl said he was in favor. The previous administration said that OSPI was planning on instituting gender identify instruction in the next 2 years.
Can you tell me what the OSPI plans are (or not) for teaching or addressing gender identify? Full details please including: timing; grades; materials; whether parents will be told and need to approve; what school districts must/can do; etc.
If there are materials (ideally electronic); links; etc., along with a statement from OSPI on gender and public education in Washington State I would appreciate getting all materials at the earliest opportunity. Mr. Reykdahl’s position and statement are essential as well.
I would appreciate knowing the timing and details.
In March 2016, OSPI adopted new standards in health and physical education. Learning standards outline what students should know at each grade, based on the subject matter. One topic called out in the new standards is “self-identity.” A suggested (not required) classroom activity if a district teaches that topic would be a discussion around whether it’s OK for boys to wear pink shirts or it’s OK for girls to play soccer.
I qualified my language in the previous sentence for a reason. The learning standards are the “what” – what students should know. The “how” – how students learn the standards – is where curricula come in. That includes textbooks, lesson plans, homework, maybe even field trips.
Standards are the responsibility of the state. Curricula are the responsibility of each district.
With three exceptions, the topics listed in the new health and physical education standards are all optional. (The three required topics are HIV prevention, CPR instructions and use of an AED.) Self-identity is optional.
To sum up, the state is done with its work. We revise standards every 5-8 years in all content areas. If they haven’t yet done so, districts need to adopt curricula that align to the standards; also, they need to decide, based in part on community standards, which topics they will teach and which they won’t. That is the purview of each school board. I assume there might be public hearings on the adoption, but I don’t know the procedures for each school board in the state.
I don’t have any associating materials beyond what’s on the web page to which I linked in the first paragraph of my email. Check specifically the right “sidebar,” which has some documents related to standards generally and the health/physical education standards specifically. It is possible we will be putting out a communication to superintendents in the near future about their adoption process, but that hasn’t been formalized. I’d be glad to share that communication with you if and when it goes out.