Define Nonbinary, Teacher Tells California School Boards Association

By Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.
September 3, 2021 Updated: September 7, 2021

California schools are deliberately keeping parents in the dark about inclusion policies that allow children to change genders without their consent, says a teacher and former school board member in Orange County.

Brenda Lebsack, a teacher in Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) and former Orange Unified School District (OUSD) school board member, recently sent an email to the California School Boards Association (CSBA) demanding that it clearly define the meaning of “nonbinary” to school board members and parents.

In the Aug. 26 email, Lebsack alleges CSBA knowingly withheld from school boards across the state the definition of the term “nonbinary,” which is now a choice on student data forms. She claims “nonbinary” means “unlimited gender choices.”

Calling “nonbinary” a third gender “is like calling Baskin Robbins an ice cream flavor,” Lebsack wrote.

If unlimited gender choices are allowed, students could theoretically identify themselves as having both genders, no gender, or list their preferred pronouns as “tree,” for example, Lebsack told The Epoch Times.

“We have books that tell them that starting in preschool,” she said.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children glossary states that “gender identity is viewed by current science as fluid and expansive.”

Troy Flint, CSBA chief information officer, denied that CSBA has deliberately held back information but admitted that CSBA hasn’t actually “spelled out” in detail what the term nonbinary means.

“I guess I just don’t understand how it’s complicated. I mean, binary is a pretty basic English word. Why is that hard to figure?” Nonbinary, he said, means “not limited or restricted to two categories.”

Flint told The Epoch Times that Lebsack has been on a three-year-long “crusade” criticizing state policies on gender identity and sex education.

“She’s not even a trustee. She’s formerly a trustee in one district out of a thousand in California, and I don’t think that her critique carries any particular authority on this issue as an individual,” he said.

“Why does Ms. Lebsack get to determine exactly what terms need to be defined explicitly?”

In a written statement, Flint said: “CSBA categorically refutes the claim that we have failed to inform members about the gender choice option on student data forms. This is the latest allegation in Ms. Lebsack’s long-running crusade to cast a cloud over and obstruct any effort at updating board policies related to sexual orientation and gender identity, merely because these policies conflict with her personal views.”

“Fortunately, CSBA’s actions and model policies are not determined by the outlook of any individual school trustee, instead they are designed to ensure that local education agencies can effectively serve their students and comply with state and federal laws and regulations,” Flint said in the statement.

Epoch Times Photo
In this file photo, a student works on a math assignment in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on May 12, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Students’ Needs Unclear

OUSD school board member Rick Ledesma told The Epoch Times that school board members need a full and clear explanation of what “nonbinary” means in order to properly do their jobs, especially if nonbinary does mean “unlimited gender choices.”

“If they say it’s going to be unlimited gender categories, then explain to me as a board member, how I’m going to direct my school district from a curriculum standpoint and from a psychological services standpoint. I don’t even know if this is going to necessitate psychological services or health services, right? Define what I’m supposed to operationally be prepared for,” he said.

“How do you prepare for unlimited gender choices? How do we fund it?”

Ledesma has made his own inquiries to CSBA but hasn’t received a response.

“If it’s so easy to define nonbinary … then tell me what it means,” he said. “We need to know it, because we have to have some level of educational services provided for tree or guppy or whatever the case may be.”

Ledesma suggested CSBA’s attempt to “discredit” Lebsack is designed to prevent her from getting media attention.

“It’s a political tactic,” he said.

He supports Lebsack’s efforts to bring the gender inclusion discussion to the table so that parents know what’s going on. “She’s brought it to my attention, and I get it now.”

The state isn’t only trampling on parental rights but “even to a certain extent the maturation and psychological makeup of a child,” Ledesma said.

“Does that mean all rights go to the state and up from there in terms of the gender aspect? That’s what we’re being told right now: all rights for gender designation, the state gets to dictate. They dictate by saying the kid gets to dictate.”

In her email, Lebsack states that “nonbinary is an ‘umbrella term’ to encompass unlimited genders that are ever-expanding and ever-evolving according to CDE’s Health Framework passed in May 2019 by the State Board of Education.”

She alleges that CSBA hasn’t told California school trustees that school personnel and mental health workers can change a student’s gender in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) solely based on a student’s request without parental consent or specifying the child’s age.

Withholding this information from school boards prevents trustees from properly doing their job to inform parents and is “absolute deception,” Lebsack wrote. She denounced the CSBA for failing to properly do its job.

Lebsack pointed out that the California Department of Education (CDE) refers to “nonbinary” as a third gender and then lists several other genders.

California Senate Bill 179, passed in 2017, recognizes three genders—female, male, and nonbinary—and allows individuals to amend their gender designation on state-issued identification documents. The Gender Recognition Act describes nonbinary as “an umbrella term for people with gender identities that fall somewhere outside of the traditional conceptions of strictly either female or male.”

It also states: “People with nonbinary gender identities may or may not identify as transgender, may or may not have been born with intersex traits, may or may not use gender-neutral pronouns, and may or may not use more specific terms to describe their genders, such as agender, genderqueer, gender fluid, Two Spirit, bigender, pangender, gender nonconforming, or gender variant.”

In her email to CSBA, Lebsack cites a 2018 press release announcing Tom Torlakson, former California superintendent of public instruction, partnered with the top education officials from Oregon and Washington to send a letter opposing “federal attempts to redefine the concept of sex and gender government-wide, making that definition purely biological.”

“The assumption underlying California policy is that gender is a spectrum that is not necessarily linked to biological sex. State legislation allows all individuals, including students, to self-certify to their chosen gender category of male, female, or nonbinary—starting on January 1, 2019,” the release states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) verifies this assumption by defining “gender nonbinary” as “gender creative,” which means “students can create or make up their own genders” Lebsack said.

The CDC calls these other genders “gender minorities” that, based on critical race theory (CRT), “may be considered marginalized and oppressed, while biological male and female genders may be considered privileged oppressors,” Lebsack told the CSBA.

By failing to fully define what nonbinary means, the CSBA has caused school trustees and districts to violate state education laws that obligate districts to inform parents, she alleged.

California Education Code 51101 states that “parents and guardians of pupils enrolled in public schools have the right and should have the opportunity, as mutually supportive and respectful partners in the education of their children within the public schools, to be informed by the school, and to participate in the education of their children,” Lebsack said.

Lebsack said parents deserve to be respected and informed, and she urged the CSBA to immediately “right this wrong” so they can better participate in their children’s education.

Lebsack sent the email to CSBA’s top executives including CEO and Executive Director Vernon Billy and Keith Bray, general counsel and chief of staff, as well as more than 100 executives and staff.

Flint reiterated that CSBA has updated its policy in newsletters and other communications materials but didn’t cite a full definition of “nonbinary.”

“I do refute her accusation that we have not informed members about this. We updated the policy. Perhaps Ms. Lebsack feels that we should have sent some sort of separate communication parsing the exact language because this is an issue of concern to her, but the fact remains that we did provide policy updates which were responsive to the law that she mentioned,” he said.

“Maybe she feels we should have done it differently. That’s not surprising, because she’s striving for a particular outcome.”

When asked if the CSBA also had a particular outcome in mind, Flint replied: “Yes, we do have a certain outcome. Our outcome is to follow the law. Everything we have put out is in alignment with state and federal law.

“What we are trying to do is give board members the information they need to uphold the law, and the policy updates that we have provided members allow them to do that.”

“And as far as the word ‘nonbinary’ goes, people can have a debate about this, but I think nonbinary quite literally means not limited or restricted to two categories. So, I think one can extrapolate from that there are multiple options. And importantly, the policy updates we provide guide trustees in what’s required of them.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy Brenda Lebsack)

Gender and Critical Race Theory

In her email to CSBA, Lebsack attached an image of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) coloring sheet, which she said is designed to teach elementary students gender concepts. It depicts a bearded, bespectacled man with flowers on his T-shirt and a bow in his hair partially blocking the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in large capital letters behind him.

There are two versions of the BLM coloring sheets, which The Epoch Times has obtained.

One reads: “Everybody has the right to choose their own gender by listening to their own heart and mind. Everyone gets to choose if they are a girl or a boy or both or neither or something else, and no one else gets to choose for them.”

The other reads: “We make space for transgender people to participate and lead. We know that cisgender (not transgender or gender nonconforming) people in our society have privilege, and we want to uplift transpeople, especially black trans women who often experience violence.”

Flint said it’s up to each school district to decide if they want to use BLM materials in their lessons.

“The state is not prescriptive about whether an individual teacher or a district would have incorporated Black Lives Matter into their curriculum. It certainly doesn’t advocate for specific position on that. I mean, the state law obviously encourages a certain diversity of curriculum but as for targeting Black Lives Matter or any other groups specifically, no. These are decisions that are made at the local level,” he said.

Lebsack contends that “gender inclusion” is more aptly gender “confusion and delusion,” and could have lifelong consequences, such as sterility for students. “Public schools are intentionally confusing kids about their gender and encouraging the use of puberty blockers which lead to infertility,” she states on her website, Brenda4Kids.com.

She is fighting against what she sees as “extremist ideologies and unethical medical practices” being promoted in the education system.

Lebsack has accused the state government and its agencies of child abuse and psychological exploitation. In a six-minute video, Lebsack shows examples of gender inclusion ideology that many schools have embraced and claims parental rights are rapidly eroding in California. She also advocates for school choice to be put on the 2022 election ballot.

Lebsack’s video shows a short clip of a cartoon used to teach students about gender inclusion in San Diego Unified School District and other districts that use the Advocates RRR, or 3Rs, (Rights, Respect, Responsibility) curriculum endorsed by the CDE.

“These elementary cartoons also glorify non-biological genders and stigmatize biological male and female genders,” Lebsack says in her video.

The cartoon “compares gender to a tossed salad,” Lebsack says in the video. “Biological males and females are considered old school like a boring rock hard wedge of iceberg lettuce and a stinky old dried up tomato, while other nonbinary genders are compared to exciting salad ingredients,” she says.

The salad used to represent nonbinary genders is described as “a romaine and kale salad with avocado, cucumber, shishito peppers, and four kinds of cheese sprinkled in balsamic straight from Italy.”

Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.