Conejo Valley Unified School District | Science and Gender

 

 

By Janet Stephenson

On Tuesday, August 20, the CVUSD had a robust school board meeting with a great deal of  discussion touching on the new California gender teachings which are born from social constructionist philosophy. These teachings state that there are a multitude of genders and gender mixes which can not be known at birth, versus the traditional view that is essentialist and states that there are two biological genders, male and female, that are known at birth. Watching the marathon CVUSD meeting on Tuesday, the discussion seemed to be forgetting the elephant in the room – how does the scientific community view gender? After all, we are supposed to be teaching our children academics in school that will prepare them for STEM fields.

Science has consistently used, to the present day, sex and gender interchangeably to mean the binary categories of male and female. That is not to say that those who identify outside of these categories, such as the transgender community, are not recognized. Members of the transgender community are considered biologically male or female, but identifying as an opposing gender psychologically and sociologically. In essentialist terms, for instance, a transgender woman would have a male gender, but has a gender identity that is female.

Social constructionists seek to change the vocabulary and its meaning. For moderate social constructionists, their gender theories exclusively use the term sex when referring to a biological male or female. For gender identity, the terms gender and gender identity become interchangeable, and would be something that is determined by the child some time after birth. In social constructionist terms, a transgender woman has the biological sex of a male, but is a female gender. Or, a nonbinary student may have the biological sex of a male, but is both male and female genders.

My concern is that, if the new gender theories are going to be introduced and affirmed in California schools, how are they going to be introduced and how are they going to be enforced? So far, I’ve seen childish books that make scientifically inaccurate claims that gender is simply guessed at birth, and that there are an unimaginable number of genders and pronouns just waiting to be discovered. The latter might prove to be true if one claims that gender is equal to gender identity, as one can identify in any number of ways and combinations.

However, I’m curious as to what will happen to students who defer to the biological binary definition of male and female. Will they be discriminated against or punished through an effect on grades, teasing, and mocking? It is my understanding that the goal of introducing new gender theories is that no one should be bullied, especially protected classes, such as transgender students. Those classes should be protected and schools should be a safe place of learning for all protected classes. There are also cultural and religious protected classes whose culture and faith are tied to the biological binary definition of gender, and these students will also need protecting. No student should be bullied, whether they are an essentialist who believes that there are two genders, male and female, which are determined by biology, or a social constructionist, who believes in the multiplicity of genders and gender mixes, which are determined later in life.

The reality is that the California Department of Education can’t just flip a switch from an essentialist, traditional view of gender, to new gender theories without problems. It’s not just protected classes within cultural communities and religious faiths that have teachings on binary genders. The scientific community also uses gender in referring to binary concepts of sex, and the schools are still using textbooks that refer to gender as being biologically determined by genetics, and that chromosomes determine whether someone is male or female. 

In 2019, the medical and other STEM professions continue to use the term gender in reference to male and female sexes. Here are just some titles in STEM journals that discuss medical and STEM outcomes in research of biological male and female sexes, referring to them as genders:

“Gender but not diabetes, hypertension or smoking affects infarct evolution in ST-elevation myocardial infarction patients,” BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 

“Gender difference of CCAAT/enhancer binding protein homologous protein deficiency in susceptibility to osteopenia,” Journal of Orthopaedic Research

“NIRS cerebral patterns in healthy late preterm and term infants are gender and gestational age‐dependent” Acta Paediatrica, Nurturing the Child

“Are we ready for a gender-specific approach in interventional cardiology?” International Journal of Cardiology

“Gender differences in mathematics and science competitions: A systematic review,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching

“Changes in levels of cortical metabotropic glutamate 2 receptors with gender and suicide but not psychiatric diagnoses,” Journal of Affective Disorders

And these are just a drop in the ocean of STEM articles written in 2019. I am also aware that many scientists and medical professionals may veer away from the term gender, and are using the term sex more often. However, the above present-day examples indicate that such changes are obviously not across the board.

So, if a student simply states in class that they hold the position that there are only two genders, will our California teachers, in instructing the new gender theories, be informed enough to explain that, biologically, there are two genders, but psychologically and sociologically there can be more. Or, will they condemn the student’s statement outright as hate speech, prejudice, or bigotry? Because, honestly, when we still have the scientific and medical communities referring to male and female sexes as genders, it would be dishonest, disingenuous, and unfair to punish students who are in line with the scientific community at large, especially if we are supposed to be preparing and teaching our students to be able to join the ranks of STEM professions that still refer to gender as binary, male and female. 

Janet Stephenson is a resident of Thousand Oaks, CA


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2 Responses to Conejo Valley Unified School District | Science and Gender

  1. Barry D Gabrielson August 26, 2019 at 9:57 am

    “Stotsky’s solution to low achievement is less a program than a non-program. It effectively says: ‘Stop asking schools to solve problems that have nothing to do with schools!’ Schools cannot fix broken homes.'”

    As usual, the “Don’t just stand there, DO something,” mentality leads nowhere. As does the feel-good-ism that dominates the contemporary teacher mentality. Another snippet:

    “Many years ago, while I was working on education matters at the National Endowment for the Arts, a renowned administrator told a group of us that his favorite saying was, ‘I don’t teach math or English or science or art—I teach kids.’ He smiled, and the others approved. It is just this kind of personalization of instruction that has led to the reduction of content and lowering of standards for the last half-century. It should be reversed.”

    Can anyone imagine any of the 2020 Democrats (1) acknowledging the superseding effects of illegitimacy and unfit parenting? (2) refraining from throwing (other people’s) money at the “education” problem for the sheer sake of DOING something, or (3) abjuring the cheap emotionalism of the “I teach kids” approach?

    Reply
  2. Jude August 25, 2019 at 7:44 am

    First, parents are not sending their children to school to be indoctrinated by politically correct teachers. They’re not sending their kids to discover the definition of gender queer. Or to hear a revisionist retelling of American history. Or to understand the evils of toxic masculinity. Or to master the intricacies of intersectionality.
    They’re sending their kids to learn to read and write and do math. To get a grasp of geography and science and world literature. To learn about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (without speculating on their sexuality – yes, there are gay activists who want to claim both of them as gay!).

    Reply

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