Hot on the heels of NPR's two feature stories on transgender children comes news of a Haverford, Pennsylvania 3rd grader who will be making the transition from male to female. Apparently, parents are up in arms because the Haverford School District sent out a letter giving parents one day of notice "of planned counseling sessions with 100 third-grade students to explain that one of their male classmates would soon begin wearing girls' clothing and taking a female name and to ask that they accept him as a girl and not make unkind remarks." Most parents and students have taken the transition of this transgender student in stride, but a few have been openly critical of the way the school district chose to handle the situation.
In an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Marybeth T. Hagan says that when she first heard about the transgender child, she exclaimed, "Where is the school? California?" (It seems that in Marybeth's world, transgender students are a product of new age methodology and organic produce.) Hagan, shocked to find out that this was occurring in her own backyard, objected to the way the situation was handled, because she feels that parents were not given enough advanced warning. "Introduction of sexual abuse prevention programs over the years should have taught these educators that most parents like to have a say in all aspects of their children's sexual education - particularly one that could be controversial," she reasons.
Other parents have spoken out harshly on the Haverford Township blog and eight parents called the principal to ask that their children not attend the transgender counseling session, according to the Inquirer. I have no doubt that the educators thought long and hard about how to present this issue to their students — according to reports, they consulted transgender experts, the student's family, and child psychologists. One parent, Valerie Huff, whose daughter is friends with the transgender student, thinks that the letter didn't need to go out in the first place, as "The kids don't make any big deal about it at all." It's not surprising in the least that 9-year-olds are being more open minded about differences than some of their parents.
School Challenge: Transgender Student Is Age 9 [Philadelphia Inquirer]
3rd-graders Asked To Help Classmate in Gender Change [World Net Daily]
School's Sensitivity Is Off-Target [Philadelphia Inquirer]