Survey Says: Schools Need to Stay out of Children's Identities
I am the mother of a 13 year old ROGD daughter and recently I received a disturbing survey from our public school district.
A little background: our school district has a statistically impossible number of LGBTQ youth, with a heavy focus on the “T”. There are also kids, 12 and 13 year olds in “polyamorous” relationships. From what I hear, our school is not unusual in this regard, as these identities have been rapidly capturing the imagination of our youth.
So back to the survey…Amidst the expected questions for such a questionnaire, in one section I was asked to select the items from the “Strategic Plan” that I felt were accurate for our school district. On this list of items, one item stood out: “Curriculum and teaching practices are updated and reflect current best practices in identity-development and recognition”.
I was taken aback with the inappropriateness of this question, as “identity-development” is not the purview of schools—rather it’s generally been an individual, community, and family process.
Reading this question raised further questions in my mind:
Who decides what are the “best practices”?
Why are K-12 students instructed to develop an identity?
Why are we giving recognition for identity? Why would one identity be better, more celebratory, or more noteworthy than another?
Our school administrators are clearly trying to wrap their minds around these fads and, instead of dismissing them as trends, they are trying to change their mandate and tailor their educational programs to service the wants of this new perceived population.
I cannot wrap my mind around teaching children to “identify” by placing themselves in one-dimensional identity boxes. Is that how identities work, or have ever worked? Why is is that kids today can’t simply live their childhood with all doors open to them, no labels, no boxes? To develop multi-facet identities (aka personalities) like humans have for all of the rest of human history? To let all of their experiences help them form their identity through adolescence and into adulthood?
The person I was as a 12 year old is not who I was as a 16 year old, which was different than my 19 year old self… I’ve never met anyone who would say differently about themselves. Imagine putting yourself in a box at 12, having others recognize and celebrate it, and then having to live the remainder of your life as that 12 year old you, anchored to that 12 year-old-you belief, that took into account none of your life experiences from that moment onward?
Identities form through our experiences and our influences—ideally from family and friends. There is absolutely no need for a school curriculum to develop and recognize identity. Identities aren’t learned or taught, they are “you” and you are always a work in progress. Identities should come from within, and they are certainly never one dimensional.
The schools have entirely lost their way. They should be teaching, not interfering with children’s personalities, culture, community, and sexuality. But that has seemingly become their sole focus—nowhere on the strategic plan survey was there a question about our lack of offerings in foreign languages and AP courses…
How do we get schools back to educating kids, not trying to illegally interrupt the parent/child relationship, or acting as unlicensed therapists disrupting the pubertal identity formation process with their highly controversial socio-political agendas? Is suing each individual school truly the only way to bring an end to this insanity?