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K-12 Gender Toolkit Puts Kids at Risk

On July 19, a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) council will vote on a “transgender toolkit,” which—if adopted—will be distributed to all public K-12 schools across our state.Transformation toolkit

The toolkit pressures schools to allow “transgender or gender nonconforming” students to choose whatever bathrooms, locker rooms and athletic teams align with their “gender identity.” More than that, it threatens parental rights by urging school officials to report parents who are not viewed as sufficiently supportive of their child’s self-expressed “gender identity” to government authorities for “child neglect or harm.”

But American Experiment’s Katherine Kersten raises fundamental questions about the state’s approach to the controversial issue in the current edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press in a column headlined Put Children’s Safety First, Not Ideology.

The number of children who report being unhappy with their biological sex has exploded in the last 10 years. Parents, school officials and public leaders are all deliberating about how to deal with the challenging issues raised by kids who say they wish to live as the opposite sex — who think of themselves as transgender.

So far, the focus has been on “rights-based” disputes — which bathrooms and locker rooms students should use at school, for example. But the question goes deeper.

One thing is clear: The goal of all involved should be to minimize young people’s suffering and promote their best interests, laying a foundation for them to become happy, healthy adults.

MDE claims its promulgation of the toolkit is motivated by concerns for the safety of the students in question. In fact, the medical protocol used to effect “gender transitions” in children—puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones—carries grave medical risks. As Kersten points out, these include lifelong infertility and increased likelihood of cancer, liver disease, diabetes, stroke and heart attack.

In fact, there is very little medical research on the long-term effects of hormone use in the context of gender transition. The effects on children’s brain development, for example, are unknown. Fenway Health, an LGBT medical facility in Boston, warns that “the long term effects” of testosterone use by females and estrogen use by males have “not been scientifically studied and are impossible to predict.”

We do know that cross-sex hormone use entails lifelong dependence on the medical system. Many of the secondary sex characteristics that hormones stimulate disappear when they are discontinued, though others — such as male-pattern baldness in females and breast growth in men — are irreversible.

Are young people capable of giving informed consent to such risky treatments — likely to cause permanent infertility, for example — at an age when many states bar them from using a tanning bed or getting a tattoo?

How is it ‘safe’ to encourage children to make irreversible, life-transforming decisions on a matter that is poorly understood by medical professionals, and to do so when an immature brain makes informed consent impossible? Kersten concludes that “we owe it to young people who face this traumatic dilemma to put their safety—not ideology—first.”

Read Kersten’s column in its entirety on the Pioneer Press website.

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