Reading, Writing and Gender Bending

The New York Times is concerned about censorship in American schools. “Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.” reads Sunday’s headline.

“Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades,” the story reports.

The story generally focuses on parents, but methinks the uptick in outrage has more to do with the books than the parents.

Books in the crosshairs, the Times reports, include “Sex Is a Funny Word,” described on Barnes & Noble’s website as “an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 8 to 10 as well as their parents and caregivers.”

I get that my profession loves to portray parents who oppose approved textbooks as unsophisticated and wrong-headed, but I see parents who recall a period in their childhood when they were clueless about sex — and want the same timeout for their 8-year-olds.

And they might not welcome an early-grade textbook with a drawing of a smiling child in a bathtub with text that explains, “Grown-ups call this kind of touch masturbation.”

I understand that there are young children who question their sexual identity and might welcome such a book. Their parents are free to buy that book. Other parents have the right to set limits on what schools tell their children about sex.

There’s a propaganda side to trendy sex education. “Sex Is a Funny Word” informs: “But having a penis isn’t what makes you a boy. Having a vulva isn’t what makes you a girl. The truth is much more interesting than that!”

Subliminal message: Biological boys and girls who see themselves as boys and girls are not interesting.

The education establishment and left-wingers frequently boast that they “believe in The Science” and they “follow The Science.” In this case, they’ve replaced biology with ideology when it comes to gender.

“Only boys and girls? What about the rest of us?” asks Zai, one of four of the book’s main characters.

“Excellent question, Zai,” character Omar responds. “If everybody is different, how could there be only two kinds of people?”

Forget what you learned in biology. Go with Facebook and its 56 gender categories in addition to male and female.

The book oddly omits mention of menstruation — a one-time staple of sex education. But then, if a child with a penis can be a girl, as the reader is told repeatedly, mentioning menstruation might be considered a painful reminder of biological norms.

Oh, and there’s a section on “justice.”

“Sex Is a Funny Word” takes off on family and friends who ask expectant moms and new parents about their baby’s gender. Zai asks, “Why do you think people want to know if a baby is a boy or a girl?”

If the goal is to expand the number of children who experience gender confusion, good job.

I get there are children who feel at odds with their gender, that some may grow up and choose to identify outside their biological gender, and that educators want all students to feel that they belong. But there has to be a better way.

Earth to The New York Times: It’s not the parents who have changed. It’s the public school system.

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Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute's Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at

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One Comment

  1. Hopefully the world will one day admit there are only two kinds of people, male and female. If they don’t, they will continue to create all kinds of chaos in the minds of young kids. There is no excuse for adults to ignore the science of boys will be boys and girls will be girls no matter how they try to influence the children to pull their underwear down and take a second look. Sex isn’t on the minds of young children; they are thinking of playing games and playing with their toys. It’s the sick adults who keep making this SEX subject the top priority in life for the kids.

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