K-12 Gender Identity Standards Surprise Some Washington Parents

K-12 Gender Identity Standards Surprise Some Washington Parents

Kelsey Harkness /

“I don't know if you remember being in fourth grade or not but, my gosh, can my kids be kids for a little while first?” Washington state mom Kaeley Triller Haver says of new gender identity standards in the schools. (Photo: Kelsey Harkness/The Daily Signal)

“I don’t know if you remember being in fourth grade or not but, my gosh, can my kids be kids for a little while first?” Washington state mom Kaeley Triller Haver says of new gender identity standards in the schools. (Photo: Kelsey Harkness/The Daily Signal)

Kaeley Triller Haver is no stranger to the transgender bathroom debate. After being sexually assaulted as a child and going public with her story, the single mom from Washington state now opposes shower, locker room, and bathroom policies that she believes leave her and her daughter vulnerable and unsafe.

So earlier this month, when she found out that Washington public schools quietly adopted a new set of health education standards that include teaching kindergartners about gender expression and identity, Triller Haver was shocked she wasn’t involved.

“The only way I found out was through a Facebook post,” Triller Haver told The Daily Signal. “Not really the way any parent should discover information this critically important to their child’s life.”

“The curriculum,” she said, “starts in kindergarten. And my daughter will be in kindergarten this year. So that’s great.”

The changes prompted an “outcry from thousands of parents across the state,” a spokesman for a conservative think tank says.

Washington adopted new gender identity guidelines in March as part of the state’s updated health and physical education standards. The state agency responsible for the guidelines said they were made available to the public for review, and provided The Daily Signal with examples where it solicited comment.

None, however, pointed to the addition of gender identity guidelines—instead referring to the proposal broadly as the state’s new “Physical Education Standards.”


We’re collecting public comments on WA Health and Physical Education Standards: http://bit.ly/1QGockM  http://ow.ly/i/gqWMg 

Perhaps that’s why the guidelines went unnoticed by both parents and the media, until Peter Hasson, a reporter for The Daily Caller, stumbled upon them while doing research for a different story.

After his article was published, parents and citizens of Washington voiced outrage, with some even writing on Facebook that they removed their children from the state’s public school system altogether.

“Pulled my child out of school for next year because of this nonsense and made sure I let our local school district and the OSPI know why,” Renae Purdy wrote on Facebook, referring to the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction. “If we ban together, homeschool our kids, and put in enough complaint calls they will have to change these policies. They need to stick to teaching academics and leave personal issues to be taught at home!”

(Photo: Facebook)

(Photo: Family Policy Institute of Washington/Facebook)

Another, who identified herself on Facebook as Neilene Hodneland DeBoise, wrote:

(Photo: Family Policy Institute of Washington/Facebook)

(Photo: Family Policy Institute of Washington/Facebook)

In recent months, transgender bathroom policies have been trumpeted by President Barack Obama’s administration, which in March sent a letter to public schools nationwide mandating they allow transgender students into sex-segregated facilities based on their gender identity.

Because of her past experience with sexual abuse, Triller Haver now argues against this policy and in favor of keeping bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers separated by biological sex.

Washington state’s new gender identity guidelines map out specific “standards” for each grade level to achieve. These include teaching kindergartners that “there are many ways to express gender,” defining sexual orientation to fourth-graders, and describing to fifth-graders “how media, society, and culture can influence ideas regarding gender roles, identity, and expression.”

The purpose, a press release states, is to “provide the guidance to teach, reinforce, and apply all of the state’s learning goals.”


“I don’t know if you remember being in fourth grade or not but, my gosh, can my kids be kids for a little while first?” Triller Haver asked.

The guidelines also include a glossary defining gender as “A social construct based on emotional, behavioral, and cultural characteristics attached to a person’s assigned biological sex.”


To some, this is a welcome change. Responding to the new policies online, one Facebook user who identifies herself as Brenna Searle, wrote:

I didn’t transition until my 30s because I literally had ZERO context for what I was going through. It’s all well and good to say ‘leave it to the parents’ but my parents were well-meaning people who had no way to inform me it was even an option. We need education to keep young trans children from mental health issues and suicide[,] from not knowing who they are or who they were meant to be.

(Photo: Family Policy Institute of Washington/Facebook)

(Photo: Family Policy Institute of Washington/Facebook)

Others, like Triller Haver, say that teaching the subject of gender identity to kindergartners encroaches on parents’ rights.

“It’s not age appropriate,” she said. “It’s not science or math, it’s ideology. And that’s not appropriate for the government or anyone to take taxpayer money and force parents into conversations they’re not ready to have with their kids.”


The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is the authority on public education in the state, adopted the health and physical education standards in March. According to a memo issued by Superintendent Randy Dorn, his office “collaboratively” developed the standards “with teachers, administrators, subject matter experts, state and national associations, and stakeholders in health and physical education” starting in September 2014.

It is unclear whether schools are required to adopt the gender identity guidelines.

According to the document, the standards are “required elements of instruction.” Page 2 reads:

The Washington state learning standards are the required elements of instruction and are worded broadly enough to allow for local decision-making. Outcomes provide the specificity to support school districts in meeting each standard in each grade level. Depending on school resources and community norms, instructional activities may vary.

On Page 10, the guidelines specifically address grade-level goals:

By implementing grade-level outcomes, educators will help students meet the learning standards. All districts, schools, and educators in Washington state are expected to implement the state learning standards for all students. However, educators should use their own understanding of their students to make adjustments to teaching activities as needed.

However, Nate Olson, communications director at the state’s Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, said the standards aren’t mandatory. In an interview with The Daily Signal, he called the standards “best practices.”

“If districts want to teach the topic of self-identity, what our teachers did is come up with grade-level suggestions for a bunch of different topics,” Olson said.

Whether gender identity is a required subject is in some ways irrelevant, argued Zachary Freeman, director of communications at the Family Policy Institute of Washington, a conservative think tank. Freeman said:

State law compels school districts to follow the standards and outcomes of [the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction], and [that office] can reject a district’s curriculum if it doesn’t meet their standards.

Moving Forward

Because of “outcry from thousands of parents across the state,” Freeman said, the superintendent’s office “says it will be clarifying the language in the standards to make it clear that schools are not required to teach students about these topics.”

Olson confirmed to The Daily Signal that the superintendent’s office will  correct “an inconsistency” in the standards to make clear the topic of gender identity is not required.

Freeman argued any correction is beside the point.

“The fact that [gender identity] appears on the documents at all shows clearly that there is some sort of agenda being promoted.”

That agenda, Triller Haver said, is the reason she would home-school or send her daughter to private school if she were financially able to afford those costs.

“I feel like I’m basically being held hostage,” she said. “My kids have to go to school, I have to go to work, I don’t have a lot of options.”

Olson, speaking for the state superintendent’s office, apologized to parents who “did not hear about this until it was too late.”

“The process was no different than the adoption for any other standards that we’ve adopted or revised,” he said. If a parent is upset about the learning goals,  he said, “I would encourage them to go to their local school board and say ‘I don’t agree with this.’”

Triller Haver said she believes the better route for schools to follow is adhering to anti-bullying programs that are already in place.

“Standard anti-bullying programs and curriculums that are not specific to gender should be more than enough to cover it,” she said, adding:

You treat all people with compassion, you treat all people with dignity and respect, and you teach children that there are going to be different people who behave and believe different things, and that all of them are entitled to value and dignity, regardless of how they present. But that doesn’t mean you need a whole curriculum based on gender.

the Washington office of the superintendent of public instruction or
OSP I is the authority when it comes to public education in our state
they set the education standards for local school districts and administer
testing to ensure that students are learning the concepts they’re supposed
to be taught in March OSP i released its 2017 health and physical education
standards for Washington’s public schools
the standards include on controversial topics like germs nutrition and exercise
but this year
OSP I included some new topics that have parents up in arms
beginning in 2017 Washington will introduce gender expression
gender identity and sexual orientation into the elementary school curriculum
under these outcomes children will begin learning about gender expression in the
kindergarten and first grade in third grade students will learn about gender
the idea that every individual can choose their gender regardless of their
biological sex
fourth-graders age 10 and 11 will be taught about different sexual
orientations and by fifth grade students will be taught how to prevent HIV
while these standards may be shocking perhaps the worst part is that OSP i
adopted these new standards without properly notifying parents
when parents and media raised questions OSP I hid behind a wall of ill defined
terms for example on page 10 of the health and physical education standards
it clearly says all districts schools and educators in washington state are
expected to implement the state learning standards and outcomes for all students
however when asked OSP I told parents and reporters that the gender expression
gender identity and sexual orientation items were merely recommended best
practices not mandates they told parents that local school districts get to write
their own curriculum which is true
they just didn’t mention that the school districts are required to build their
curriculums using OSP I standards
you can liken this to spi saying you can buy any color car you want as long as
it’s black but there has been some progress last week
OSP I admitted an inconsistency in their standards document and vowed to make
changes to the semantics but regardless of what changes they make the healthy
youth act which was passed by the washington legislature in 2007 says OSP
I can reject any curriculum that is not compatible with the state’s sexual
education standards and surprise the state said standards require the
teaching of gender identity sexual orientation gender expression and gender
it is clear that washington state intends to teach your children about
gender expression
gender identity sexual orientation and HIV prevention
perhaps most troubling however is the fact that they appear willing to do it
behind your back
even if the new standards document were only recommended best practices and not
mandates the government is still recommending the taxpayer dollars be
used to teach impressionable elementary aged children about gender identity and
same-sex attraction
are you okay with that when asked if it was unreasonable for parents to assume
OSP I could include topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation
in their curriculum review
OSP is communications manager responded quote it’s not unreasonable to assume it
but it won’t be done in other words we can teach them that if we want to but we
won’t just trust us
call your legislators and let them know how you feel you may have never paid
attention to the race for the superintendent of public instruction
before but now you have a reason to our kids are not a social experiment and
they don’t belong to the government
this is actually meant for the Family Policy Institute in Washington
0: 00the oficina de Washington del superintendente de instrucción pública o
0: 09OSP que es la autoridad cuando se trata de la educación pública en nuestro estado
0: 13Y establecer las normas de educación para los distritos escolares locales y administrar
0: 17testing para asegurar que los estudiantes están aprendiendo los conceptos que se supone
0: 20to ser enseñado en marzo OSP i dio a conocer su 2017 de la salud y la educación física
0: 25standards para las escuelas públicas de Washington
0: 28Los estándares incluyen en temas polémicos como gérmenes nutrición y el ejercicio
0: 33 Pero este año
0: 35OSP que incluye algunos de los nuevos temas que tienen los padres en pie de guerra
0: 38beginning en 2017 Washington va a introducir la expresión de género
0: la identidad y la orientación sexual 43gender en el plan de estudios de la escuela primaria
0: 48under estos resultados los niños comenzarán a aprender acerca de la expresión de género en el
0: 52kindergarten y el primer grado de los estudiantes de tercer grado aprenderán sobre el género
0: 57identity
0: 58the idea de que cada individuo puede elegir su género, independientemente de su
1: el sexo 02biological
1: 04fourth grado 10 y 11 años se les enseñará sobre diferentes sexual
1: 08orientations y por estudiantes de quinto grado se les enseñará cómo prevenir el VIH
1: 13while estas normas pueden ser chocante quizás la peor parte es que i OSP
1: 17adopted estas nuevas normas sin padres notificar adecuadamente
1: 21Cuando los padres y los medios plantearon preguntas OSP Me escondí detrás de una pared de mal definido
1: 26terms por ejemplo, en la página 10 de la salud y los niveles de educación física
1: 32it dice claramente todas las escuelas de los distritos y educadores en el estado de Washington son
1: 37expected para aplicar las normas estatales de aprendizaje y los resultados para todos los estudiantes
1: 42however cuando se le preguntó OSP me dijo a los padres y los periodistas que la expresión de género
1: 47gender elementos de identidad y la orientación sexual se recomienda simplemente el mejor
1: No 52practices mandatos dijeron a los padres que los distritos escolares locales empiezan a escribirse
1: 57their propio plan de estudios que es cierto
1: 59they simplemente no mencionó que se requiere que los distritos escolares para construir su
2: 02curriculums utilizando estándares OSP I
2: 05you puede comparar esto con spi diciendo que usted puede comprar cualquier coche color que desee, siempre y cuando
2: 10IT de negro, pero ha habido algunos avances la semana pasada
2: 13OSP que admitió una inconsistencia en su documento de estándares y se comprometió a hacer
2: 18changes a la semántica pero independientemente de qué cambios hacen que el sano
2: 22youth acto que fue aprobada por la legislatura de Washington en 2007, dice OSP
2: 27I puede rechazar cualquier plan de estudios que no es compatible con el estado de sexual
2: normas 31education y sorprender al estado dijeron normas requieren la
2: 36teaching de identidad de género expresión de género de orientación sexual y de género
2: 40roles
2: 41it es claro que el estado de Washington tiene la intención de enseñar a sus hijos acerca
2: Expresión 44gender
2: 46gender identidad de orientación sexual y prevención del VIH
2: 50perhaps más preocupantes sin embargo es el hecho de que parecen dispuestos a hacerlo
2: 53behind la espalda
2: 55even si el nuevo documento de normas sólo se recomendaron las mejores prácticas y no
2: 59mandates el gobierno sigue recomendando los dólares de los contribuyentes sean
3: 03used para enseñar a niños de primaria impresionables acerca de la identidad de género y
3: atracción 08same sexo
3: 09are usted de acuerdo con eso, cuando se le preguntó si no era razonable que los padres asumen
3: 14that
3: 14OSP pude incluir temas como la identidad de género y orientación sexual
3: 18en su revisión curricular
3: 20OSP es gerente de comunicaciones respondió cita no es razonable suponer que
3: 25 Pero no se llevará a cabo en otras palabras, podemos enseñarles que si queremos, pero nos
3: 31won’t sólo confía en nosotros
3: 34call sus legisladores y hacerles saber cómo se siente puede que nunca han pagado
3: 38attention a la carrera por el superintendente de instrucción pública
3: 40before pero ahora usted tiene una razón para que los niños no son un experimento social y
3: 46they no pertenecen al gobierno
3: 47this es en realidad significaba para el Instituto de Política Familiar en Washington

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