He, him, his

22Mar18

A fleeting moment of sanity gripped our state lawmakers last week.

One state rep wanted to remove or change the “General Hooker Entrance” sign at the State House. The entrance is named for a Civil War hero, General Joseph Hooker. A statue of General Hooker astride a horse also stands near the doorway.

Apparently, during high school tours of the State House, the sign for the “General Hooker Entrance” has prompted many adolescent boys to make jokes at the expense of their female classmates. (As we’ve learned recently, high school students are very profound thinkers.)

To the shock of many, even ultra-PC Beacon Hill leaders rejected Rep. Michelle Dubois’ move to alter or get rid of the triggering sign.

Such rational thinking is a rarity under the Golden Dome, however, and was nowhere in evidence last month when some high school students went to the State House to lobby for comprehensive sex education. (And you thought their only area of expertise was Constitutional law and the Second Amendment.)

During their Beacon Hill visit, these students helpfully wore nametags that spelled out their preferred gender pronouns, according to a March 11 Boston Globe story. The nametags were designed to help lawmakers understand that just because someone may look like a boy, girl, man or woman, you should never assume. And you should absolutely never assume that there are only two genders.

That concept is, like, so 2010.

The pronoun declarers, according to the Globe story, “are trying to nudge people past the long-held assumptions that there are only two genders and one ‘normal.’”

And by “long-held” they mean the entirety of human existence up to approximately a decade ago.

If you’re wondering where kids get these ideas, consider that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Framework for Gender Inclusive Schools encourages teachers to “interrupt binary notions of gender.” In other words, Massachusetts public school teachers are urged to dispel the idea that there are only two genders, male and female.

Before you lecture me about the difference between “sex” and “gender,” let me point out that in common usage the terms were synonymous until the rules were changed – once again, very recently – and all disagreement was forbidden. (Even the Boston Globe story acknowledges the “long-held” two-gender consensus.)

I might also point out that etymologically speaking, the words “gender,” “gene” and “genesis” derive from a common root, meaning “to give birth, beget.” In other words, they all relate to how you were born.

One DESE recommendation is to teach students that “How someone feels about their gender comes from their hearts and their minds (and not their pants!)” Nor does someone’s gender come from their genes, according to the Department of Education, which must not have any biology majors on staff.

They may not have many English majors either, based on the following verbatim passage. “Sure, boys might do certain activities more than girls or vice versa. But that doesn’t mean all boys do those things or are supposed to wear that girls don’t or shouldn’t do that!”

Oh, OK. May I quote you on that?
 
Despite DESE’s instruction that schools “interrupt binary notions of gender,” every school that I know of still has only “boys” and “girls” sports teams, which seems terribly unfair to all the gender non-binary athletes. Even “co-ed” teams imply some sort of binary gender classification.

Funny how reality and science manage to persist, no matter how inhospitable the environment.

[This column originally appeared in the March 22, 2018 Wakefield Daily Item.]



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