To: Members of Washington School Boards
From: Family Policy Institute of Washington
Date: 6 SEP 2016
Re: OSPI Gender Identity and Gender Expression Education
Dear School Board Members and Superintendents,
Educators and parents across the state of Washington have expressed concern over the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) efforts to insert sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression into the elementary school Health and Physical Education standards in 2017-18.
The standards advise Washington State public schools to begin teaching students — starting in Kindergarten — about gender expression, gender identity, gender roles, and sexual orientation.
The 2017-2018 Health and Physical Education Standards document was written with the heavy implication that OSPI requires schools to teach these new topics. However, OSPI has made revisions to the Standards document, in which they affirm that the implementation of the outcomes relative to sexual orientation and gender identity is optional, not mandatory, and that “the new standards do not introduce any new teaching requirements.”
Furthermore, OSPI has written in an email to multiple parents: “The standards clearly do not instruct districts to teach students about gender expression/identity/roles. Districts adopt curricula; the state doesn’t dictate that. We include suggested grade-level outcomes on the topic of self-identity if a district adopts a curriculum that includes that topic.”
OSPI has been the subject of an outpouring of criticism from both Washington State educators and parents, worried that public schools will begin teaching young, impressionable students about highly controversial and politicized topics like sexual orientation and gender identity, as a result of these standards.
Parents’ apprehension echoes a statement released by the American College of Pediatricians, a national professional association for pediatricians, advising schools against teaching gender ideology to children in the classroom. According to the pediatricians, teaching children about gender identity, if done improperly, can be harmful to their development.
Because these suggested topics are not required to be taught, there is no risk or liability for a school district that does not adopt a gender identity curriculum.
You are encouraged to contact OSPI to confirm that the new guidelines do not create a requirement to teach gender identity or expression to kids at (360) 725-6000. If we may be of assistance, please call our office at (425) 608-0242, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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