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California Schools Can Change Students‘ Gender Categories Without Parent Consent

A Catholic mom in Northern California enrolled her daughter in a public charter school. During her initial zoom classes, the girl, an incoming freshman who had not yet stepped foot in the school due to COVID-19, was asked her name and “preferred pronouns.” She chose a male name and male pronouns. The school then routinely used this information without informing her parents, and then began to socially transition the child – the first in a series of steps culminating in a sex change.

It’s a measure of the peril of our culture that these parents have asked that I protect their anonymity. They have good reason for fear: soon after they voiced their anger with school officials, Child Protective Services showed up at their doorstep.

It’s bad enough that some in government aspire to divide us by race, religion or languages. But using our schools and law enforcement to divide our families? Deliberately separating parents from their own children in order to indoctrinate our children with radical gender ideas – starting in preschool?

This is wrong. Had COVID not forced so many classes into our homes via Zoom, few of us would have become aware of it.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial non-binary iceberg. The gender category “non-binary” now appears on all student information forms. Few parents, reared in a prior generation, realize that “non-binary” means “unlimited gender choices.” The California Department of Education (CDE) defines “non-binary” as anything beyond the historic “male-female” binary understanding of gender – new terms for a new age, including “transgender,” “non-gender,” “intersex,” “agender,” “gender-queer,” “gender fluid,” “Two Spirit, bigender,” “pangender,” “gender nonconforming,” or “gender variant.” Really.

CDE says these genders are ever-expansive, ever-evolving, ever-changing, and that children can self-certify or choose their own gender. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines gender nonbinary as “gender creative,” meaning children can create their own gender, and, further, that these non-conforming imaginary genders are legally protected minorities. Troy Flint, the Chief Information Officer of the California School Boards Association, says “non-binary” means “multiple options.” These teachings not only denigrate our respective faiths but also defy common sense.

The California Teachers Association passed a policy in January 2020 stating students should be able to access hormone therapy without parent consent, for the sake of “equity.” Because of their outsized influence over state government, the CTA’s policy is a reality for foster youth starting at age 12, thanks to Assembly Bill 2119. Also, according to Assembly Bill 1184, minors can bill their parents’ insurance without their parents’ consent for gender-affirming care, which includes hormone therapy or sex-change operations. These mandates could consign a child to lifelong ramifications – powerful hormone treatments, a lifetime of meds, inability to bear offspring, horrific and grotesque surgeries that irreversibly remove core body parts.

I am an Orthodox Jew. Although my viewpoint on this matter may be inconsistent with the zeitgeist, it is normative among more than 1,500 American Orthodox rabbis with whom I affiliate in organizations like the Coalition for Jewish Values, the Rabbinical Alliance of America (Igud HaRabbanim), and other mainstream Orthodox Jewish bodies. We rabbis speak for congregants, we lead synagogues, we teach at yeshiva elementary schools, high schools, and advanced-degree programs. But ours are the marginalized voices, rarely are heard by Americans because powerful media and political forces direct the public’s attention elsewhere.

We stand boldly and proudly alongside Americans of other faiths who share similar family values. Devout Catholics, Protestants of varying denominations, faithful Muslims, Hindus and others. We work together in the Statewide Interfaith Coalition (www.Interfaith4Kids), a network of many races, ethnicities, religions, and skin colors to oppose extremist gender ideologies infiltrating pre-K-12 education. Together we oppose the erosion of parental rights, as well as the deceptions perpetuated through public education today.

A colleague, a Southern California imam, has asked, “When will we collectively say enough is enough?” It’s not hard to imagine that we’re on the road to becoming a society in which the state owns children. But not yet. In America, parents give birth, feed, nourish, house, clothe, and embrace their children. We are not – or should not be – compelled to inculcate them in this new state religion. We decide whether they trick-or-treat on Halloween or deliver mishlo’ach manot on Purim — or both. We monitor and guide their social media. We help them choose friends wisely. We teach them to obey the law.
But what are we to do when the law has lost its moral center? Here in the state of California, school personnel or mental health workers partnering with schools, now have authority — solely based on a child’s request, regardless of age — to change a child’s gender category in the California Data System (CALPAD) without parental knowledge or consent. This betrays parental trust no matter religious or non-religious affiliation.

Sacramento and the local school boards must leave parents to mentor their children on gender matters. If they don’t, they will begin to exit public schools in great numbers.

Rabbi Dov Fischer, West Coast Vice President and Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, is Senior Contributing Editor at The American Spectator and Rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County.