California Provides New Guidance For Teachers on How To Teach Kids Transgender, LGBTQ Topics in Health Classes

Public school teachers in California have been given a new directive on how to approach LGBTQ and transgender topics in health education courses. The state's education agency on Wednesday approved new measures that encourages teachers to talk about gender identity with kindergartners, and advice for LGBTQ teenagers.

And though educators aren't required to teach those topics, the guidance also includes how to talk about puberty and masturbating as a middle schooler, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. As for teachers, they will most likely get their information from recommended reading.

The California State Board of Education passed a sweeping overhaul of its health education guidance, which mostly relates to the topics of nutrition, staying active and confronting the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. However, it's the sex-related issues that drew the most attention, according to the Chronicle.

For example, the new guidance tells teachers that it is okay for kindergarten students to identify as transgender students, and the new provisions give teachers tips on how to talk with those students about it.

"The goal is not to cause confusion about the gender of the child but to develop an awareness that other expressions exist," the framework states.

It goes on to say it is ok to tell middle school students that masturbation is not harmful, and that going through puberty as a transgender teenager is "an environment that is inclusive and challenges binary concepts about gender."

"As the parent of three kids, we're on a careful trajectory here not to be introducing things as though they are endorsed in some way," said Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education.

The board has recommended various books to help educators pass along any knowledge to students and parents. One early draft of the measure suggested that high school students read the book: "S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties." After many parents read from the book and showed the board illustrations from it, the board scrapped the book, along with other suggested readings.

"It's important to know the board is not trying to ban books. We're not saying that the books are bad,"said Feliza I. Ortiz-Licon, an education agency board member. "But the removal will help avoid the misunderstanding that California is mandating the use of these books."

The pushback from parents didn't end just there. Patricia Reyes is a 45-year-old who traveled a daylong trip from Southern California to protest the measures. Her 4-year-old daughter, Angeline, who's just one of her six children, carried a sign that stated: "Protect my innocence and childhood."

"It's just scary what they are going to be teaching. It's pornography," Reyes said. "If this continues, I'm not sending them to school."

Phoenix Ali Rajah is a 16-year-old transgender boy from the Los Angeles area who said he hardly ever gets taught how people like him should get information on sexual activity.

"I'm never taught about how to be in a relationship with gay men," Rajah said. He went on to say "conversation with sex starts from a different place."

The recommendations were collected from teachers across California, but it doesn't necessarily mean all educators agree with it.

"I shouldn't be teaching that stuff," said Tatyana Dzyubak, a Sacramento-area elementary school teacher. "That's for parents to do."

California Provides New Guidance For Teachers on How To Teach Kids Transgender, LGBTQ Topics in Health Classes | U.S.