Okay, “Purple Penguins?” Seriously? This has got to be one of the silliest things I have read in a while . . . -LW
Boys and girls are not to be called boys and girls in Lincoln, Nebraska’s public schools. Instead, they are to be called purple penguins. According to Fox News, the administration of the public schools have instructed the teachers to not use gender-specific phrases such as “boys and girls,” “ladies and gentlemen,” and “you guys,” as well as any other expressions or phrases that specify a child’s gender when attempting to get the attention of the young students.
A handout was distributed to the educators to teach teachers as well as administrators who work with children about transgender issues. Teachers have said that they have been instructed to segregate the children by other means than gender – boy or girl. They should find other means of segregating the children, perhaps as dividing them by their preference of a skateboard or a bike, or whether they like milk or juice. Critics are saying that the attempt to make a discrimination-free society is ludicrous. Yet, this notion of “gender neutrality” is apparently catching on.
This “gender neutrality” concept is supposed to create an environment in which distinguishing roles based on someone’s gender is not desirable. Taking the concept quite seriously, a middle school near Lincoln, Nebraska is going for it. The school is buying into the theme purported by a group called Gender Spectrum. The idea is that a gender-sensitive environment for all children and teenagers is created. Gender Spectrum provides education, training and support for schools to create this environment.
The idea appears to be geared to any student who does not identify himself or herself with either gender or does not identify with his or her birth sex. Some of the steps in this non-gender identity program include some suggestions for dealing with youngsters that are quite disturbing to many. Besides being told to not use phrases such as “boys and girls,” and “ladies and gentlemen,” it is suggested that students not be asked to line up by their gender – boys or girls. Instead, they should be asked to line up by another means – such as lining up by their birth dates being on an odd or even date.
The program says that every child should have an opportunity to tell the teacher the name by which he or she prefers to be identified. Also, the child should have the opportunity to tell the teacher which pronoun by which he or she prefers to be identified. In other words, the program is letting the child decide if he will be addressed as a boy – even if the child is a girl, and vice versa.
Dr. Steve Joel, the superintendent of the Lincoln Public Schools, reportedly supports the program, according to the Christian Science Monitor and other media outlets. Reportedly, he is not the only administrator that finds the program to be a good thing. However, as one can imagine, there are educators and parents who believe this entire program is pretty far-fetched. Yet, Dr. Joel believes that this program appropriately deals with bullying – particularly bullying regarding sexual orientation – by creating an inclusive school environment.
Al Riskowski – who is the executive director of the Nebraska Family Alliance – says that his group definitely supports any legislation that stops bullying. However, quite assertively and appropriately, he says that the Gender Spectrum program that Dr. Joel is buying into goes way beyond trying to teach someone how to respect another individual or to understand gender identification or sexual orientation. Of course, there are other parts of the country which have delved into the gender-identity controversy as well.
Most pronounced on the topic, Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown actually signed a law in 2013 that makes it legal for a transgender student to use “the other gender’s” washroom – when the student is as young as elementary school-aged. In Minnesota, the Minnesota State High School League is even considering policies that may allow transgender students to play sports on teams that aren’t made up of their birth sex. A boy could actually say he identifies himself as a female and then play on a girls’ team – and vice versa.
Therefore, we may end up with a child born with male body parts ending up playing on a girls’ basketball team, using the girls’ washroom, and being called a purple penguin instead of a boy or a girl in some parts of the United States. We may end up with a child born with female body parts ending up playing on a boys’ baseball team, using the boys’ washroom, and being called a purple penguin instead of a boy or a girl in some parts of the United States. Naturally, all of this is going to be confusing to the majority of students who just want to play on their gender-specific teams and use their birth-gender washrooms and be called either a boy or a girl – as dictated by their body parts.
The assumption should be that the students who enjoy being called a boy or a girl have rights, too. Additionally, the percentage of students that all of this gender-neutrality initiative involves is not revealed in the published reports on the topic. Somehow, it seems it could all backfire and the “purple penguins” that the program is designed to help will cause them more grief – because the majority of “boys and girls” who want to actually be called boys and girls – based on the body parts they were born with – will rebel over being called a purple penguin.
According to the Lincoln Public Schools website, Dr. Steve Joel has been the superintendent of the Lincoln Public Schools for five years. His district has more than 38,000 students and 8,000 employees. It is assumed that he most likely spent time teaching in a classroom at some point in his education career, but it is not known how long he has been out of the classroom.