On May 5th, the Oregon Department of Education issued to all school districts a document purporting to be “guidance” to school authorities, but which should properly be viewed as a dictate to anyone connected to the public education system – whether employee, student, board member, or parent.1 It justifies this guidance on the basis of federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and reinforces its authority with reference to actions taken in other states by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.2
In this document, Oregon’s DOE essentially asserts that a person’s gender is unconnected to the biological fact of their male or female bodies. The DOE repeatedly uses the phrase “assigned sex at birth” to suggest a clerical procedure that might actually be in error.3 A person who “identifies” as “transgender” is someone who thinks their “authentic” “gender identity” is not the one indicated on their birth certificate.
The State of Oregon now directs school districts to allow students of any age to claim a gender identity different than their birth gender without parental check. Districts are to treat that student as though they really are the other gender. A boy that claims to identify as a girl must be treated “like any other girl.”4 There can be no gender restrictions placed on that student. That “transgender female” may compete on girls’ teams, may use girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms, may adopt a girl’s name without legal action, may insist on being referred to with feminine pronouns, may be issued transcripts and diplomas in both his original, legal name and in his chosen female name.
To further ensure a “safe school environment,” the district is to “inform and educate” the transgender student’s peers. If the parents are not supportive, they, too, need to be carefully informed and educated. School staff must also be trained (indeed, they are to be role models of support). It is clear from the guidance that only “education” that promotes and validates the homosexual/transgender agenda is acceptible.5 The educational program, in our view, is simply indoctrination.6
The final section of the DOE’s guidance is of particular alarm. Here “harassment, intimidation, or bullying” can be applied to “any act” that “may be based on…the protected class status of a person.”7 The definition of harassment may thus be stretched far beyond physical harm, the fear of harm to person or property, or creation of a hostile environment. Anything referring to a transgender issue could be cast as harassment.
Oregon’s guidance closes with the observation that some harassment may constitute child abuse and thereby require the involvement of law enforcement and the Department of Human Services.
Though the DOE’s guidance may not yet have the full force of law behind it, and though the Superintendent of Roseburg Public Schools assures parents that nothing has changed,8 parents should beware.
The Bible instructs God’s people to recognize danger and avoid it. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3. Though we must minister with compassion to those confused about gender, we must affirm God’s design in creating humans male and female (Genesis 1:27-28). We must also affirm the Bible’s teachings on the roles, blessings, and duties that stem from our being born either male or female.
The Board of Geneva Academy urges parents to do the following:
- to consider the transgender issue as just the latest manifestation of a public education system deliberately designed to stamp out religious belief. The philosophy underpinning progressive education is anti-Christian, anti-God, and anti-Bible.
- to provide a Christian education for their children, either at a Christian school or at home. Education is discipleship, and allowing children to be discipled by a system inculcating unbelief runs counter to the commands of scripture (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 2:8, Romans 12:2, Deuteronomy 6:1-6).
- to pray for and work towards the placement of bold and godly people in positions of leadership. Christian leaders should resist evil and push against it.9
- Loaded terms used in the State document are signified with quotation marks. The guidance is under Oregon Department of Education, Kate Brown, Governor letterhead, and proceeds from the Office of the Deputy Superintendent. The full title is, “Guidance to School Districts: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment for Transgender Students Issued May 5, 2016.”
- For example, the Oregon guidance refers to an OCR Investigation Report issued to a school district in Illinois (page 10).
- Examples of “assigned sex at birth” are found on pages 2, 3, 4, and 6.
- Oregon Guidance to School Districts, page 4.
- Ibid, p.9, “Instruction and Student Support (Comprehensive Sexuality Education).”
- To indoctrinate is to teach a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.
- Oregon Guidance, page 12.
- Washburn, Gerry “Let’s focus on student success”, News Review, May 29, 2016. Mr. Washburn is the Superintendent of the Roseburg School District.
- An Oregon judge ruled June 10, 2016, that a transgender person can legally change their sex to “non-binary.” Echoing Oregon DOE language, the petitioner in the case said, “I was assigned male at birth due to biology…I’m stuck with that for life. My gender identity is definitely feminine.” Casey Parks, Oregonlive/The Oregonian, “Oregon court allows person to change sex from ‘female’ to ‘non-binary,’” June 10, 2016, at http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2016/06/oregon_court_allows_person_to.html.