March 24, 2023
by Tara Bleazard
My first-grader jumped in the van after school, and before the seat belt even clicked, she quickly blurted out, “Charlie is actually a girl. Sara told me that they were twin baby girls when they were born, but that Charlie wants to be a boy, so their family told him he can be, and…” Her voice hushed and I could tell she was about to reveal the most astonishing information. “He can use the boys’ or the girls’ bathroom!”
I then proceeded to have a conversation with my 7-year-old that I had only previously had with my middle school and high school aged children. I first felt overwhelmed by this unexpected leap into mature topics, but I quickly remembered that despite complexities that the woke agenda is attributing to gender, the reality is quite simple. So, we began with biological reality. “How do you know you’re a girl? How does a boy know he is a boy?” She quickly described the very evident physical differences. I’m not sure there is much to say beyond that, but I proceeded, “Well, that’s a very clear difference. Because of those physical differences we are able to live as men and women with different and complimentary roles and responsibilities.”
Children understand biological sex. Yet they are being exposed to confusing gender ideology younger and younger. More often than not, it is without the parents’ knowledge or permission. Our schools should be institutions of academic learning, and children spend the majority of their waking time at school for that very reason, but what else are they learning? What are the unspoken lessons shaping their perspective and development? And what resources do we have to fortify them against constant and powerful socialization regarding gender?
As parents we have the responsibility to make clear delineation on topics where lines have become blurred; like the reality of binary genders. Our children’s peers and school policies increasingly expose them to ideologies like gender existing on a spectrum, or that it can be chosen(as in the case of pronouns), or that social transition alleviates the emotional and psychological distress associated with gender dysphoria. Because of these ideologies, our children are experiencing dangerous socialization based on dogma and in the absence of evidence.
Exposure to gender ideologies, through social and mainstream media, alters a child or teen’s perception of reality. It oversimplifies the complexities of gender dysphoria, sometimes, removing the condition entirely and presenting gender as a choice. Media influence over inflates the incidence of occurrence, the attention validates the transitioning person and demonstrates that transition is a path to attention and validation. Media influence also presents a false dichotomy of transition or suicide. A recent phenomenon referred to as Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria explores a connection between social media, peer influence, and the idea of gender dysphoria as a social contagion. In addition to media, socially-charged advertising, full of “ally” messaging, negatively influences our children and teens.
Parents must even be vigilant in the face of medical associations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), published that gender-affirming practices, like hormonal treatments and surgical interventions, are imperative for overall health. However, the HHS document makes false assertions and contains numerous dangerous inaccuracies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) promotes gender affirming medicine as the only viable path, yet 80% of pediatrician members desire further dialogue on alternative treatments to hormone therapy.
Gender dysphoria prevalence has increased over the years, even more than doubling from 3-4 in 100 in 2017, to as high as 9 in 100 in 2021. We must consider if other causes have contributed to this rapid increase in cases of gender dysphoria. It requires that we ask questions and seek answers for ourselves. If we fail to act, we will find ourselves ill-equipped to teach and guide our developing children to navigate social issues like gender dysphoria, pronouns, and transitioning. The very institutions we trust, and entrust our children to, are promoting harmful policies and proliferating false messages, void of sound social science data. Not only are these institutions indoctrinating children, but they are also violating parental rights.
Taking responsibility for our children’s learning and development with regards to gender and sexuality, requires that we apprise ourselves of the sound research available and be willing to advocate privately for our children, as well as publicly, in school district meetings. We should exercise our right to review the health and sexuality programs that our school district employs. As parents, we have the right to review forms referring to gender ideology and the policies regarding pronouns. We should also exercise our right to opt out of curriculum that does not reflect our views of gender, sex, and the family.
When we are armed with good science and aware of the influence of school, peers, social media, and medical associations, we can engage in consistent and ongoing dialogue about gender with our children, in our schools, and in the community at large. Maybe the conversation should always begin with biological reality, whether you’re speaking to a 7- or 70-year-old.
Tara resides with her husband and four children near Big Cottonwood Canyon. She loves camping, canyoneering, and playing sports with them. She also enjoys reading and travel. She is currently an intern with UFI and will graduate from Brigham Young University – Idaho in April, 2023 with a degree in Child and Family Advocacy.