Dennis Prager read from a FIRST THINGS article entitled “Transgender Conformity,” by Katherine Kersten. The article discusses Nova Classical Academy, “a K–12 charter school in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the sort of school that most parents seeking a first-rate education for their children can only dream about. Founded in 2003, the school teaches the classical curriculum of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Students read the Aeneid, the Iliad, and Dante’s Inferno.”
First Things continued:
Nova’s website proclaims, “Parents are the primary educators of their children.” The school’s mission statement calls students to “a virtuous life of duty and ideals.” In 2016, U.S. News and World Report named Nova’s high school No. 1 in Minnesota, and the No. 4 charter high school in the nation.
But on October 14, 2015, parents of K–5 students at Nova received an email from lower school principal Brooke Tousignant that was destined to change the school forever.
Tousignant informed parents that, in the coming year, Nova would be “support[ing] a student who is gender non-conforming.” This term, she explained,
describes children whose identities, appearances, behaviors, or interests do not fit traditional societal expectations associated with their sex assigned at birth. It is important to note that this expression of gender is ever-changing as students are constantly exploring many different aspects of their identity.
To support the gender-nonconforming child, Nova would be teaching K–5 students “about the beauty of being themselves.” All K–5 students would read a book called My Princess Boy, “which tells the story of a boy who expresses his true self by dressing up and enjoying traditional girl things.” Thus was Nova Classical Academy plunged into the Twilight Zone of transgender politics.
….School board meetings at Nova, once sleepy affairs, quickly became scenes of conflict. LGBT activist groups such as Transforming Families (a support group for transgender families) and Gender Justice (a nonprofit law firm) “mobbed the meetings, brought their lawyers, protested, and compelled their sobbing transgender kids to talk about bullying and suicide attempts,” according to Emily Zinos, a longtime Nova parent.
Parents who questioned the proposed policy changes were branded as bigots. “We were ridiculed, mocked, and accused of hatefulness and ignorance, despite our doctoral degrees,” said Tom Lynn, parent of four Nova students. Parents’ free speech rights were also frequently challenged. At one school board meeting, Nova’s attorney asked the school board chair to end public comment, warning that a parent’s reference to the First Amendment could be interpreted as creating an impermissible “hostile environment.”
…Individuals who suffer from a psychological condition known as “gender dysphoria” experience a marked incongruence between their biological sex and their “gender identity”—defined as the subjective, internal sense of being a man or woman. Gender dysphoria is listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It is part of the family of psychological disorders that includes anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder, and body integrity identity disorder (BIID). Anorexic individuals wrongly believe they are obese, while those with body dysmorphic disorder are consumed by the notion that they are ugly. Individuals who suffer from BIID identify as disabled and sometimes seek amputation of healthy limbs or the surgical severing of their spinal cord.
In adult males, gender dysphoria is generally rooted in erotic attractions, according to McHugh. Children are different. They “come to their ideas about their sex” through “a variety of youthful psychosocial conflicts and concerns,” he says. These include “conflicts over the prospects, expectations, and roles that they sense are attached to their given sex—and presume that sex-reassignment will ease or resolve them.”
Gender dysphoria is often associated with pre-existing psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders, and a history of sexual abuse or physical or mental trauma. Other “predisposing and perpetuating factors” include troubled peer dynamics, parental psychopathology, and parental reinforcement of cross-gender behavior during the sensitive period of gender-identity formation, according to Dr. Kenneth Zucker, longtime director of the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. A child’s ability to resolve gender dysphoria tends to correlate with parental attitudes, with success much more likely if parents minimize the problem, which is exactly the opposite of what transgender ideologues such as the Edwards are doing.
Fortunately, the great majority of young people who struggle with gender dysphoria “identify” with their own sex by late adolescence or adulthood, according to the DSM-5. Estimates range from 70 to 95 percent. For those afflicted, McHugh says, the best treatment is counseling and family therapy….