Maryland parents are on the warpath against gender ideology, which they believe is steering their children onto the wrong track.
And so the mothers and fathers of Frederick County have petitioned the County Superintendent of Schools to notify a parent when his or her child signals a desire to change gender.
On March 23, a public forum in Eldersburg, Maryland, heard from a panel of experts that public schools are grooming vulnerable students to transition away from their sex at birth.
The gathering was sponsored by Moms for Liberty and co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the Leadership Institute.
The word “grooming” might refer to two types, according to Dr. Jay Richards, director of the DeVos Center for Life, Religion and Family at the Heritage Foundation, who spoke to the gathering.
“One is grooming a child for sex,” he said, “but there is also ideological grooming that gets a child in a total new thought world.
“That’s why the word ‘grooming’ is important even when the teacher is not a pedophile,” Richards added.
“Introducing children to these concepts in gender ideology whereby you can have a gender identity that is totally contrary to your biological sex is the worst toxic ideology you could teach to a kid because you are teaching a child that he or she is born into the wrong body.”
“What the schools are doing is definitely grooming,” said Utah-based advocate Dr. Erin Brewer, co-founder of Advocates Protecting Children and Compassion Coalition, at the gathering.
Brewer added: “It allows teachers to talk to small children about their genitals, breaking down barriers, and teaches the kids to deceive their parents, telling them ‘what goes on in this classroom, don’t go tell your parents!’”
Brewer said she is a former “trans kid” who was helped back to reality by good cognitive therapy, which is today being banned for children.
Breaking Parent-Child Trust
The problem of breaking down trust between parents and children was amplified by January Littlejohn, a Florida-licensed mental health counselor whose 13-year-old daughter was socially transitioned in 2020 from girl to boy without her knowledge.
“Is there grooming? Yes! Many of the girls who are vulnerable are autistic, so they are already vulnerable when you bring in ideology that destabilizes the child’s identity,” Littlejohn said.
“The teachers are already in a position of authority in the classroom. They send a message to the kids that they will keep the child’s secret from their parents.
“That sends the idea that the parents may not be safe, which is a dangerous message to be perpetuating in our public schools,” Littlejohn said to The Epoch Times in a follow-up interview.
“Public school teachers are socially transitioning students because they think they are being kind,” said Kathleen Goonan, a retired medical doctor who spends her time now helping de-transitioners, young people who have previously transitioned and who now want to reverse the process under medical care.
“The fact is that social transitioning is a major psychosocial intervention, in which teachers are fast-tracking kids toward medical change,” said Goonan.
Advocates such as Goonan have to tread lightly since 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning “conversion therapy,” a treatment in which a physician assists a person who is seeking to revert to his or her sexual identity at birth.
A physician doing so could suffer the loss of their medical license.
“The Biden administration has made gender identity a protected class,” Dr. Ryan Anderson told the forum.
“It means that a doctor could be delicensed for helping a child become comfortable with his or her body, said Anderson, who is the author of the book “When Harry Became Sally” (2017).
The town hall was picketed on the street outside St. Stephen’s Church by a band of two dozen flag-waving protesters, some of whom spoke to The Epoch Times.
No More Opting Out
Opting out of curriculum content has become an issue in neighboring Montgomery County, the most affluent county in Maryland and historically known for some of the best public schools in the nation.
But gender ideology emphasized in the wake of falling student achievement levels has riled some Montgomery parents who formed a chapter of Moms for Liberty in January 2023.
The so-called inclusive gender material dominates much of the language arts curriculum for the county, according to Lindsey Smith, founder of the county’s Moms for Liberty Chapter and a mother of four children.
“My preschool kid recently was read to from the book ‘Pride Puppy’, which is an alphabet book illustrated with Drag Queens and Pride illustrations,” Smith told The Epoch Times.
“My second-grader is scheduled to read a book titled ‘My Rainbow’, which is a story about an autistic girl who dreams of becoming trans,” Smith said.
“Our principal had sent home to parents a list of these books and gave us instructions on how we could opt out of these books, and we did, which was possible until March 23,” Lindsey said.
“On March 23, we got a blast email from MCPS [Montgomery County Public Schools] telling us that no one could opt out anymore.”
Montgomery County Public Schools posted a notice on March 23 telling teachers that they must use “inclusive texts” in all instructional materials that include “inclusive and safe spaces for students, including those who identify as LGBT or have family members in the LGBT community.”
A call seeking clarification from MCPS’s Office of Health Education and Curriculum was not returned.
The post on the MCPS website stated: “Students and families may not choose to opt out of engaging with any instructional materials, other than ‘Family Life and Human Sexuality Unit of Instruction’ which is specifically permitted by Maryland law.
“As such, teachers will not send home letters to inform families when inclusive books are read in the future.”
Moms for Liberty and allied citizens announced that they will picket the Board of Education Administration building at 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland, at 3:30 p.m. on March 28.