Students are usually taught basic biology, including the difference between gender, but Irving Middle School in Lincoln, Nebraska, is asking its teachers not to use the words “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen.”
Instead, the school wants teachers to refer to students with non-specific gender nouns, such as “Calling all readers” or “Hey, campers.”
Nebraska Watchdog notes that a set of instructions entitled “12 easy steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” tells teachers not to separate students by gender, lest they be offended, but rather by birth dates or personal preferences.
According to The National Review, a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools advises teachers to "create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug."
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If the teachers must refer to gender for some reason, the handout tells them to say "boy, girl, both or neither."
While tolerance is emphasized in the instructions, the teachers are told: "Be intolerant of openly hostile attitudes or references towards others… on their statements about gender. Being punitive may stop the behavior, at least in your presence. Being instructive may stop it entirely.”
The instructions also tell teachers to “avoid using ‘normal’ to define any behaviors.”
“We don’t get involved with politics,” Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) Superintendent Steve Joel told KILN radio. “We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids… and we can’t be judgmental.”
However, Al Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, told the Nebraska Watchdog that the concept of “your biology at birth doesn’t designate who you are” conflicts with “almost everyone in the community."
Rachel Terry, a parent with students at Irving Middle School, recently asked other parents via email to join her at an Oct. 14 school board meeting.
“By sidelining academic teacher training and replacing it with social re-engineering, the LPS administration has placed a higher priority on social reformation than on education,” Terry stated in a speech that she plans to give, which was obtained by the Journal Star.
Terry also believes the school is using taxpayer money to push “the deconstruction of fundamental family and religious values."
However, Irving Middle School Principal Susette Taylor claims the handout is not meant as rules for teachers, but rather suggestions for making students feel comfortable.
“If there’s a staff member that’s uninformed and unsupportive, that can be pretty scary for a family maybe struggling to understand transgender issues themselves,” Taylor told the Journal Star.