Teaching people is one of the hardest activities I have had to do. In my case, it's been as a firearms instructor in Southern California teaching the broad range of people one encounters in this very diverse part of the country. They come from every background and every viewpoint imaginable. They can be young. They can be old. They can be from all over the world. They have personal beliefs that span the entire spectrum of politics, cultures, and sexual orientations. They all come to class to learn about the fundamentals of a skill set that they wish to become better at–in my case, marksmanship. At the core of it, as a teacher, it's my job to be able to find a way to constructively interact with all of them.
Every teacher that I've ever discussed this with shares the same outlook on what they owe the students that crossed their paths. I respect that devotion to service in an often-forgotten profession that is far more important to the lives of ordinary Americans than it is given credit for. So, when I see instances where the institutions within which these honorable people must do their jobs become muddled by the politics of activism, I take a closer look to see what's really going on: How is this really affecting the quality of the lives of these teachers?
RedState recently ran across a training course that teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are being put through that seems to encourage teachers to challenge other teachers in their work environments to push what seems to be a more militant form of agenda than the actual LAUSD policy has codified.
This particular course is called “Identity Working Terms,” a contracted course purchased by LAUSD from the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ), a 501(c3) non-profit activist organization. The course claims authority to train teachers to comply with a formal policy of the LAUSD known as Bulletin 6224 “Gender Identity and Students – Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination.” If you read the official bulletin, it basically goes over the rules for complying with regulations having to do with recognizing gender preferences in the district's record-keeping system, what the rules are for engaging with students in their chosen identities–which can be male, female, or other–and goes over infrastructural accommodations, such as restroom and locker-room protocols.
But if you look at the CCEJ course material itself, what stands out is not the official policies of the bulletin but added material that focuses on teachers confronting each other. The additional course handout materials come from other activist organizations, including Seed the Way. The latter’s website states: “Seed the Way LLC seeks to enable teachers and educational leaders to cultivate and sustain actively anti-bias, anti-racist pedagogies, curricula, practices, and learning spaces, and to disrupt patterns that continue to oppress people of the global majority.”
There is also a sheet from LGBTQ activist organization WelcomingSchools.org, a private LLC (limited liability company). Its sheet mimics points from the official LAUSD policy bulletin. The organization's website goes on to promote alternative textbooks and teaching materials to replace legacy curriculum materials. Their website explains: “Welcoming Schools is the most comprehensive bias-based bullying prevention program in the nation to provide LGBTQ+ and gender inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, booklists and resources specifically designed for educators and youth-serving professionals. Our program uses an intersectional, anti-racist lens dedicated to actionable policies and practices. We uplift school communities with critical tools to embrace family diversity, create LGBTQ+ and gender inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying, and support transgender and non-binary students.”
And finally, the CCEJ added handout materials including something called the “Gender Unicorn,” which comes from an organization named the Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER). Their hand-drawn-graphics motif materials come from a website that states: “Trans Student Educational Resources is a youth-led organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans and gender non-conforming students through advocacy and empowerment.”
Of the non-official materials that are being handed out to LAUSD staff, the most confrontive is Seed the Way’s material, which is a menu of ways that teachers can, as the materials state, call out–or call in–other teachers and confront them on a peer-to-peer basis. There is nothing in the LAUSD policy bulletin that mandates such activity; it only informs teachers and staff to be mindful individually.
It seems to me that LAUSD opens itself up to hostile workplace complaints if it allows the inclusion of non-policy advocacy materials in the training being given to staff. Encouraging one activist-minded teacher to bully another less-driven staff member is exactly the kind of behavior pattern that every corporate-responsibility and employee-conduct program states should not be tolerated because it creates grounds for lawsuits.
Some of the suggested “conversation starters” promoted by the activist organization encourage workplace confrontation. I could easily see a teacher reacting to another teacher with a very legally costly statement: “Your comment to me is deliberately hurtful. You are creating a hostile workplace situation, and I am going to file a formal complaint about it with human resources.”
And that doesn't even begin to deal with the issue that the LAUSD’s official policy is about accommodating and blending in students with different views–not turning the many issues regarding teaching self-identified male and female teenagers into second-class considerations. Where the LAUSD’s official policy pays homage to this reality, the advocate contractor's materials are presented without balance. In fact, out of the entire handout set, there's only one page that deals with LAUSD policy; everything else is an add-on.
That doesn't seem right to me. I believe the school board should investigate this and admonish the contractor to limit their training solely to the slides that discuss approved district bulletin materials and cease embellishing the training program with extraneous content.