US: Gender identity and HIV prevention: What will be taught in Washington’s public schools?

Washington’s new recommendations for teaching K-12 students about gender identity have seen rejuvenated debate in recent weeks leading up to implementation of the guidelines in the 2017-2018 school year.

When the recommendations were announced last year, they came under fire from some conservative groups, including the Family Policy Institute of Washington, who said they would “transform public schools into a conduit for promoting the latest gender theories plaguing universities across the country.”

A letter to the editor in The News Tribune resurfaced the topic in late July, calling the recommendations “targeted indoctrination of our children in undermining traditional values” and saying they’re being taught to children at too young of an age. The letter has been viewed more than 85,000 times since July 30 on the newspaper’s website.

State officials have a different view of the recommendations on teaching gender identity. They say they’re age appropriate and necessary to teach respect and understanding for different people. 

Nathan Olson, a spokesman for the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, said one reason the category is being taught is to try and quell bullying in schools.

“We know from many studies that some of the causes of bullying and harassment — and by extension suicide — have to do with issues of self identity,” Olson said. Read more via the News Tribune