Critical Social Justice in K-12 Education, Part 1: The Sexualization of Kids – Even in Idaho?

January 31, 2022

Scott Yenor

Washington Fellow

This post is part of a series published by the Center for American Education and the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Here is a link to the original source. Scott Yenor is a Washington Fellow at The Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life. His research focuses on feminism, sexual liberation, and on dismantling the rule of social justice in America’s universities.

School administrators in Coeur d’Alene manipulated an 11-year-old girl into believing she was a boy and should undergo gender transition surgery. The elementary school counselor had coached the young girl into believing she was transsexual and instructed her how to tell her parents about her new identity. According to a recorded phone call between the counselor and parent, the principal and other school officials had known about this and began calling the girl by a boy’s name while purposefully choosing not to inform the child’s parents. 

Many Idaho parents seek solace in the sense that our Red state must be immune from nationwide trends of Critical Gender Theory and Queer theory in educational programs. But Coeur d’Alene is one of many examples of how these ideas have creeped into Idaho public schools.

For example, children across Idaho are given live condom demonstrations in sex education classes. Teachers in Blaine County school district are trained in radical gender ideology. The Department of Health and Welfare sex education program directs kids to use Planned Parenthood clinics. School administrators in Blaine County address students by preferred pronouns corresponding to their gender identity regardless of parental wishes or knowledge.

The recommended statewide sex education curriculum teaches school age kids that there are five types of sex: “Vaginal penetration, Anal pentration, Oral (Mouth) contact iwth a partner’s genitals, Manual/Digital (hands/fingers) contact with a partners genitals, Skin-to-skin contact with a partners genitals.” And statewide sex education program standards require sixth through eighth grade students to “differentiate between biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.” 

Parents are left wondering: How could this happen in Idaho schools? A new report on Critical Social Justice in Idaho K-12 Education co-sponsored by Idaho Freedom’s Center for American Education and the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life tells the fascinating tale. 

Many aspects of Idaho’s education system suggest parents are correct that the sexualization of children cannot happen in Idaho. Our schools are not required to teach sex education, unlike many other states. School districts can offer sex education programs but only within the limits of Idaho Statute 33-1608, which says the primary responsibility of family life and sex education rests with a student’s home and church and that school should do nothing to upset those established standards. Schools are required to teach abstinence and provide factual, medically accurate and objective information. 

But advocacy groups and other branches of government undermine the sound intent at the legislative level. Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has been implementing the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (APP) program in K-12 schools across the state since 2017. APP claims to teach abstinence but really encourages kids to engage in sexual activity and toward adopting social constructivist views of sex and gender. The DHW claims to be operating the program in every school district, affecting more schools every year. 

According to the APP curriculum standards, students are taught to be activists for transgenderism and other LGBTQ issues, promote safety for sexually active kids rather than absitence or marital sex, and differentiate between biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression by the end of eighth grade. The DHW never reports the names and numbers of schools where the APP program is implemented — a transparency problem that can hardly be accidental. 

Advocacy groups actively work to promote sex education material and radical gender policies at the local level. Sometimes school districts adopt APP curriculum, sometimes they quietly allow alternative sex education advocacy groups into the schools to offer programs. There is no transparency on the operation of such programs, so it is impossible to know what any individual school district is doing. But we know that advocacy groups are very active in school districts because the interest groups themselves brag about it, even though school districts don’t inform the public about it. 

The Committee for Children Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum Second Step is used in many school districts statewide including Coeur d’AlenePocatello-Chubbuck, and West Ada. Second Step encourages students to question their sexual orientation and gender, be activists for issues such as transgenderism, and use the website for sex advice. The website includes resources such as “Five tips for your first time,” refers places to get an abortion, and promotes sexual taboos like polyamory. 

For example, in the Second Step 8th Grade Unit 1 Lesson 6, students are instructed to make an identity map 10 years in the future illustrating their intersectional identities (e.g. race, gender, religion, roles) Students are instructed to circle what identity traits have changed and what stayed the same. Gender is listed as part of a student identity that can change. 

The Second Step SEL program was also adopted in Loudoun County schools, where parents were forced to sign a NDA-style form in order to review the curriculum. As American scholar and Critical Race Theory critic James Lindsay has explained, “These programs mirror the educational programs put in place by Mao in China during the Cultural Revolution and are wholly damaging to children. They’ve also adopted Marxian themes and methods, hence ‘transformative,’ and are used to groom children into Marxian views on sexuality and also Critical Race Theory.” According to the Idaho State Department of Education, Second Step is used in 21% of Idaho school districts.

Teachers are also trained in radical gender ideology. The Idaho Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, holds regular conferences for educators with workshops like “Creating Safe Spaces for LGBTQ Students,” which addresses sexual orientation and gender identity in children. Similarly the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, an early education non-profit, hosts annual conferences to train early childhood educators through workshops such as “Boy? Girl? Both? Neither? What does it mean in our classroom?” The session examined “the language around gender” and shared “children’s books on diversity” for educators to introduce toddlers to transgenderism. 

The work of these advocacy groups, abetted by local school districts, has borne fruit. The advocacy group Sex Ed for Social Change (SEICUS) claims much success in convincing local Idaho school districts to teach progressive sex ed. According to their data, 14% of Idaho’s sixth to eighth graders and 36% of high school students have been taught “how to correctly use a condom in a required course.” 

SEICUS data suggests that LGBTQ-affirming curricula are widely available in Idaho’s education system. They estimate 31% of Idaho’s middle schoolers and 51% of high schoolers are taught about sexual orientation and similar numbers are taught about “gender identity” and “gender expression.” Similarly, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) data show 12% of schools teach curriculum promoting the LGBTQ agenda and 47% of school libraries provide students with LGBTQ-related resources. 

Many parents would be appalled at the idea of a school administrator, counselor, or teacher probing into their child’s sex life or encouraging them to question thier gender. Such parents want to protect childhood innocence and ensure their children grow up with an understanding of sexuality rooted in objective truth and human dignity. But public schools have evolved to believe they are co-parents of Idaho’s children. In response, public officials must restore the unalienable right of parents in family life to direct their child’s education and care. 

In my next installment I’ll examine white shaming in Idaho K-12 schools.