If she were elected, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson would be required to work with teachers like me. (Questionable OPINION on SOGI). I’m not going to lie…this is NOT something I would look forward to. My primary issue is that valuable time and resources would have to be invested in responding to false narratives that she promotes. She clearly has many misconceptions about how education works – and about SOGI.
Her attack on the resources of SOGI 123 continue to be ridiculous and her political platform and public identity is based on a misrepresentation of truth. She takes “nuggets” from lesson plans, resources, and videos and sensationalizes them with ominous exaggerations. What she claims with regard to the intent behind them, and how the materials are used might be analogous to me suggesting that, because the Bible mentions slavery, the intent of all Christians is to teach young kids to recruit slaves. The mere mention of a group of people, and clarity around what their experience might entail is not indoctrination. We don’t try to teach children to be gender fluid, but we do try to ensure that students who identify in that manner feel safe in their classrooms.
Thompson is under the impression that that when we talk to students about gender as a spectrum, we are attempting to make ALL students gender fluid. The vast majority of students will identify as male or female and no one is interfering with that aspect of their identity. SOGI inclusive education is simply about asking students to recognize that SOME people have a different experience of gender that is not adequately understood within binary restrictions.
Teachers make decisions about resources that are relevant and meaningful to our learning objectives (as defined by the curriculum). We adapt and design lessons to be engaging and informative. We are responsive to the dynamics of our classroom, and because those dynamics are so unique to each classroom, we rarely follow any lesson plan exactly as written. So, to take quotes from a suggested plan, and suggest that all teachers are teaching it exactly as drafted is, at best, misleading, at worst, willfully ignorant.
There are certainly lots of recommended resources and lessons plans available to choose from for ANY subject area. There is such a wealth of resources available, that, even if we endeavoured to, we wouldn’t be able to use them all. The fact that 14 books that feature transgender characters exist or are recommended does not mean that those 14 books are going to be used in the classroom. It simply means that teachers have choices. It allows for teachers to think critically about the materials and select texts that are developmentally appropriate and connected to themes they are developing in their classrooms. These books are often used among a multitude of other books. Resource selection and use is informed by experience gained in practicums, methodology courses, seminars, professional development opportunities, and building relationships with our students. Our choices are informed by the needs of our students, some of whom identify as trans.
Thompson taking issue with the number of books available is a little like claiming a 10 000 volume library collection insists that patrons become paleontologists because Thompson found 100 books about dinosaurs. Or claiming that grocery stores are force-feeding green beans to their customers because there is a display of them in the produce aisle.
Interestingly, Thompson will promote the perspective of one doctor who engaged in a study (that has since undergone some additional scrutiny from peer reviewers since it was initially circulated) and claim it as the definitive understanding about trans identities. She neglects to include all of the other perspectives of doctors and researchers whose work represents other findings. Take some time to Investigate the differences between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Pediatricians. Thompson’s material comes primarily from one group, ignoring that one is considered the authority on pediatric issues, and the other is regarded as a politically-minded Anti-LGBTQ+ group. Her selection and promotion of resources appears to undergo less scrutiny than the ones used in classrooms, something I consider irresponsible when one is making public claims about complex topics, and claiming to be an expert on things that negate the lived experiences of others, and ignore the professional perspectives of health providers. When it comes to what resources and how they are being used in classrooms, I’m going to defer to the judgement of the trained professionals that step into classrooms to do the challenging work of educating children.
I continue to encourage anyone who wants a rational understanding of what SOGI is and how it is actualized in a classroom to talk to their child’s teacher. It is dangerous to rely on the perspective of someone who cherry-picks her resources, uses them out of context, makes inflammatory and inaccurate claims, and who so clearly polarizes the conversation. Sadly, the presence of this candidate and the volatility of her platform, will actually distract teachers from the important work they do because we’re going to be busy correcting miconceptions about SOGI that are the result of this candidate’s fear-mongering.
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