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A Good Night For School Reform

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Citizen magazine.

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March 2014 Citizen Magazine

If all you knew about an election is that one side outspent the other by about 70-1, which side would you expect to win?

Not the one that won in Colorado last November—to the delight of school reformers both within the state and nationwide.

There, teachers' unions had made an all-out push for Amendment 66, a complex school-funding overhaul that would have led to a sizable tax hike for residents. But despite a multimillion-dollar campaign—backed by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates—voters rejected the proposal by a 2-1 margin.

And in school-board races in multiple districts, voters backed school reformers over union-favored candidates—both holding the ground the reformers had gained in previous elections and taking new territory.

In Douglas County, a pioneering board that has promoted policies like school choice and competitive pay overcame lavishly funded challengers—who garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars from state and national unions eager to derail those policies before they catch on and spread to other districts.

Meanwhile, reformers swept into office in two other districts, winning by a wide margin in the Thompson and Jefferson County districts—the latter being, at the time, the largest district in the state.

It's no coincidence these victories came in the same election, says Pam Benigno of the Independence Institute, a Golden-based think tank which supports school reform.
"I believe Amendment 66 was a gift," Benigno, director of the Institute's Education Policy Center, tells Citizen. "It brought out the voters who both opposed tax hikes and supported education reform."

While all these wins came in one night, they didn't come overnight. They're the product of years of grassroots work by Benigno and others to build a movement capable of taking on the public-education establishment—and winning.

'The Most Interesting School District in America'

The successes of Colorado's education reformers had their roots in a seeming defeat.

In 2003, then-Gov. Bill Owens signed into law a school-voucher program that had the potential to become one of the largest in the nation. But the program soon was overturned, with the Colorado Supreme Court saying "the statewide system of school finance is designed to preserve local control over locally raised tax revenues."

So reformers refocused their attention on what they could do at the local level. Benigno and her colleague Ben DeGrow, a senior education policy analyst at the Institute, put together a series of papers on innovative local programs that expand parental choice and improve teacher effectiveness.

"For the past five election cycles, Ben and I have held briefing sessions with school-board candidates across the state," Benigno says. "We've tailored these briefings to the local districts, focusing on what each of them can do in their own circumstances."

The candidates listened and learned. And in 2009, reformers made their first big breakthrough: They won a majority on the school board in Douglas County—which, with 65,000 students, is the third-largest district in the state.

Douglas, a Denver suburban district, was an unusual spot for major changes—not an urban center badly in need of reform, but an already high-achieving suburban district. The new board, however, thought they could do better. As a result, they've given rise to what American Enterprise Institute scholars Frederick M. Hess and Max C. Eden call "the most interesting school district in America."

Members wasted no time getting to work. They adopted a market-based pay system, with higher pay for the harder-to-fill positions. They developed more demanding academic standards and assessments, based on input from hundreds of teachers.

And they made one move which could have far-reaching implications: They voted to partner with numerous private and religious schools in a groundbreaking school-choice scholarship program. Using the state's charter-school law, Douglas County set up a charter school which lets enrolled students' families take 75 percent of the state's per-pupil funding to any school that has contracted with the charter school to provide instruction.

What happened next, as Hess and Eden summarize in the Sept. 17, 2013, National Review:

The ACLU sued over the program, and while the district triumphed in appellate court, the program remains on pause while Douglas County awaits a date with the Colorado Supreme Court. If the district prevails there, it will offer a voucher model that almost any school district could emulate. The Wall Street Journal has noted that this "could transform the debate about vouchers nationwide" by making them relevant "for families who want more than even high-performing public schools have to offer."

"We just believe that you should have a wide range of school choices," then-school board President John Carson tells Citizen. "We've been bringing market principles into public education; we believe that will lead to better academic results."

That approach won praise in unexpected places: The Denver Post named the board and Carson among its "top thinkers of 2012" for "having the courage to break the death grip of teacher unions on public education."

"What that board did really ignited interest in running for school boards across the state," Benigno says—adding that, for the 2013 elections, the Independence Institute had 47 candidates from 27 districts attend its briefings.

"We've had people drive literally across the state for these events," she says. "And we've had that for years now."

Money Isn't Everything

While all this was going on, Colorado education groups with a very different agenda were organizing to overhaul the state's school-financing system.

"They wanted a lot of groups in their coalition," DeGrow tells Citizen. "They even invited us to join—but we were told we'd have to support a tax increase."

The Independence Institute declined the offer, and the rest of the groups pressed ahead in the legislature. What emerged from the General Assembly was very long (about 140 pages), very complex—and cost nearly a billion dollars in new taxes.

But one obstacle remained: Thanks to Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights—passed by popular referendum in 1992—the constitution requires that any state tax increases must be approved by voters.

That's what Amendment 66 would have done.

Its supporters were rolling in money, much of it from national sources. Out of just over $11 million in reported funding, $4 million came from the National Education Association and its state arm, the Colorado Education Association. Then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $1 million, and so did the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

And the money raised by opponents of the measure? A bit under $160,000.

So how did they win—much less win by a wide margin?

For starters, Coloradans don't like high taxes. "That's why they passed a Taxpayer Bill of Rights in the first place," DeGrow says. "For all the money Amendment 66 supporters had, they were pushing a huge boulder uphill."

Then there was the suspiciously long, tangled nature of the education-funding measure, and whether it really would deliver money to the classrooms, as supporters promised—or whether much of the funding would go to the education retirement fund and to bureaucratic functions.

"There were a few good things in there, but the more you dug into it, the more confusing it became," DeGrow says.

"We hit the speaking circuit and talked to anyone who would listen, showing them that all this money supposedly going to the classroom was a promise (Amendment 66 supporters) just couldn't keep."

The more people learned, the more problems both conservatives and moderates had with the bill.

"Especially in conservative places, the argument that this was a redistribution-of-income measure brought out a lot of voters," DeGrow says. "And when we showed suburban, middle-of-the-road voters that there was no real education reform in here, it was a real turnoff for them too."

Adding to the measure's problems, some of its most powerful supporters also turned out to be lightning rods for opposition.

Bloomberg recently spent heavily to get Colorado to pass gun-control measures which were so widely unpopular that they later cost several of the legislators who'd backed them their jobs.

"On Amendment 66, Bloomberg's involvement ended up working against them because of the role he played in the gun debate," DeGrow says. "He may have done more harm than good for his side."

All those factors together added up to a resounding result: Amendment 66 went down, 65-35 percent.

But not every election was such a landslide: One was a real nail-biter.

Neighbors Calling Neighbors

In Douglas County, the last few years' reforms have faced ongoing resistance from the local union, the Douglas County Federation of Teachers. So when the union's contract with the district ended in 2012, the board let it expire.

That's when the union—and its parent group, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—went to war, putting up its own slate of school board candidates and pouring in huge amounts of money for a local race.

On Nov. 1, the Committee for Better Schools Now—the group supporting the union-backed candidates—filed its only campaign-finance report with the Colorado secretary of state. It reported $230,500, the lion's share furnished by AFT's national ($110,000) and state ($40,000) groups.

Charcie (pronounced Shar-see) Russell of Castle Rock, Colo., had seen the clash building since the reformers were elected in 2009. She'd attended school board meetings and seen how the board's opponents regularly showed up in force.

So Russell—a former outreach coordinator for U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.—decided to let the board know it had allies too. She and several others formed Great Choice Douglas County, gathering petition signatures backing school choice and otherwise rallying behind the board's policies.

"It was important to have parents and citizens banding together to say ‘We really like this,' " Russell tells Citizen. "As individuals, we may write a letter or two, but we don't have the same influence as when we're in a group. We need to have a presence in the community and a voice in the media. That gets your message on the 10 o'clock news."

Russell's was the first of several groups that coalesced to back school reform. So as the 2013 elections approached, those groups went to work getting the voters out. And they found they had helpful allies.

"The reforms had great support from the local Republican Party volunteers, who contacted individual voters to remind them to vote. I can't tell you how much that helped," she says. "We had neighbors calling neighbors. It made a big difference."

For all their work, though, Russell credits prayer—which she and some other reform supporters gathered for regularly—as a decisive factor. Especially going into the final weekend, when the election looked tight.

"We got together to pray, and after the prayers, there was just a surge of activity—I have no other way to describe it. People calling, knocking on doors, making sure our voters got their ballots in."

The final result: The board's pro-reform candidate slate won by a 52-48 percent margin.

"When we look at what God did for His people in the Bible, we see that He fights for us," Russell says. "We didn't have the strength of the (unions), but we could tell our prayers were being heard."

Carson, whose last term on the board ended in 2013, is gratified that the reforms he presided over will continue with his successors.

"We had a target on us," he says. "This election, they threw everything at us. They spent hundreds of thousands, but we still prevailed. This was an example of how to take on a union and win."

Under the Radar

While the unions focused their attention on Douglas County, school reformers were making gains in other places. One was Jefferson County, where a reform-minded slate of candidates won by a roughly 20-point margin.

"A lot of people were surprised," DeGrow says. "This race flew a little below the radar. The unions didn't know what hit them."

But Sheila Atwell of Evergreen, Colo., wasn't a bit surprised. As the executive director of JeffCo Students First, she'd been there for the setbacks—including an unsuccessful attempt in 2011 to elect a school board not supported by the union. But she kept at it—going to school board meetings, finding likeminded parents, building a volunteer base.

"It's important that parents not feel alone—that they have somebody to talk to, to ask tough questions" Atwell tells Citizen. "We started to collect those parents and to talk to some sympathetic teachers."

Learning lessons from the last election, Atwell and her allies were better able to build their resources and target their efforts.

"This time, we were better organized than in the past," she said. "We had three terrific candidates, and they were better funded."

They also had another campaign issue. It went by the innocuous name InBloom, an educational computer program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But its substance—gathering huge amounts of data on students to share with for-profit corporations, without parental consent or opt-out provisions—raised alarms among many parents.

The school board seemed inclined to favor the program, but changed its mind after strong parental objections.

"That issue came up late in the campaign, but it helped get people's attention," Atwell says. "In the past, the board would have signed off on that. But people stood up and said, ‘We want a board that listens to the community.' "

Atwell is enthusiastic about the results of the election and hopes they're part of a larger trend of parents and citizens pursuing education reforms together.

"We'd like to see this happening across the country," she says. "School board meetings aren't terribly exciting, but they sure are important."

enigno sees evidence that it's happening. "We’ve seen the energy going on (among education reformers) lately," she says. "It's just been a fabulous couple of years." And, she adds, the Independence Institute is eager to lend assistance.

"People who run for school board need information and moral support, and after they're elected, they need guidance," Benigno says. "We're here to provide that."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you're interested in education reform, visit i2i.org/education.php for more details.

 

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Dr. Mike Adams: From Classroom to Courtroom

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Citizen magazine.

by Crystal Kupper

Feel free to download and share this FREE article—compliments of Focus on the Family Citizen magazine!

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From Classroom to Courtroom - Citizen- Sept. 2014

Dr. Mike Adams glanced around the federal courtroom, taking in the players for the biggest showdown of his career.

There sat a team from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW), his employer for the last 21 years. Adams, 49, knew the school’s opponents well: representatives from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ). As a liberal atheist, he had spent years bemoaning the organizations’ existence.

Except now, everything was backward. ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham and ACLJ Senior Counsel David French were in Judge Malcolm Howard’s courtroom to defend Adams. And attorneys from UNCW were present to argue that Adams’ unexpected conversion from atheism to Christianity—and his accompanying change of political views—had nothing to do with the school denying him full professorship in 2006.

“I used to curse at (ADF and the ACLJ),” Adams admits. “And then those were the two organizations that represented me at trial. If you would have told me that years ago, I’d be in total disbelief.”

In fact, Adams had been in total disbelief for decades—most notably about the God he now refused to deny, no matter the professional cost.

Driven by Anger

Suspicion of the divine snaked through Adams’ brain early on, despite his Baptist upbringing. Raised by a Bible-believing mom and an atheist dad, the Texas youngster spent Sundays in church and even got baptized. But as he grew, his love for soccer and girls quickly eclipsed any fondness for his mother’s church.

Or, for that matter, school. While his on-field work ethic helped his Houston team win the 5A state soccer championship, it flopped in the classroom: Adams flunked every year of high school English, barely graduating with a 1.8 GPA.

“I had this goal that I was just going to skip college and play soccer. But instead I had an injury my senior year,” he tells Citizen. “So I was incredibly angry when I went off to college, because I didn’t really want to be there.”

A psychology professor at San Jacinto College, where Adams earned an associate’s degree, steered that rage toward the philosophies of Freud and Skinner. Adams “soaked it all in,” and before long proclaimed himself an agnostic, and then later an atheist—decisions he today admits were driven less by intellect, more by anger.

Still, he earned a 3.4 GPA while working toward his bachelor’s at Mississippi State University. Next came his master’s in psychology and doctorate in sociology and criminology, also from MSU. Yet Adams’ religious tenets—or lack of—were “born out of an exceptional level of anger,” he says, “later on solidified by my conduct.”

That conduct included a mad dash of drugs, moonlighting as a rock guitarist and more than a few women. Whatever Adams was doing, he went for broke. UNCW noticed that determination and hired him for its criminal justice program in 1993.

Adams was 28, a die-hard Democrat and a firm believer in himself. Before long, he amassed a dedicated student following. (“NEVER miss a class!” advised one online student review.) He, in turn, thrived with an audience of mostly teens and twenty-somethings.

It was outside the classroom and thousands of miles away from Wilmington, however, that another set of teens and twenty-somethings would change his life.

Radical Turnaround

In 1996, Adams planed and bused his way to a prison just outside Quito, Ecuador, having landed a visiting professorship as part of a social justice mission with plans to interview inmates and guards.

Once inside, Adams met acquitted men who still lived as prisoners because their families couldn’t raise enough cash for their so-called processing fees. He stepped through the stink of too many unbathed bodies and rotten food.

And he watched a teenage boy—someone who could have been his student if he’d been born in America—get beaten.

The music-loving professor had a good ear for sound. But he had never heard anything like bones breaking from punch after kick after jab. Someone spotted Adams and yelled, “Tenemos visitas, pare!” (“We have visitors, stop!”) The teen’s attackers did just that. And as they carried him off, shaking, the boy raised his brown eyes to the foreigner in unspoken thanks.

Paralyzed outside the prison yard, he gazed at a far-away, worn-down statue of the Virgin Mary. Finally, something inside him broke, and his lips said aloud what his spirit was screaming: “I was wrong!”

“There was no way I expected to react that strongly. I was only in there for three hours,” Adams says. “I don’t want people to think I did that for effect. That’s not for effect. I was really emotionally shaken up.”

To Prison Again—and Freedom

For the next four years, Adams floated between his long-forgotten Christianity and established university life. After all, how could he simply waltz into a church and resume his relationship with God?

It took another three-hour prison visit to force his hand, this time in Texas with death row inmate John Paul Penry. Adams had been lecturing for years on Penry, a convicted rapist and murderer with an IQ of about 50.

Unexpectedly, Adams’ carefully constructed world of academic theory and liberal culture began to tremble. It morphed into a full-out quake when he met a prisoner who had been waiting two years for a trial that would have sentenced him to only two months if he was convicted. Yet the young man—a father of two, including one he had never seen—exuded a peace that befuddled Adams. Until, that is, the professor noticed the well-worn Bible and pictures of a crucified Jesus around the inmate’s bunk.

The young father thanked him for visiting, saying he had faith that everything would turn out well. Adams didn’t have that same conviction. In fact, he knew without a doubt that the man whose name he never caught was happier than Adams was himself.

What most struck Adams was not that the mentally challenged Penry had learned to read in prison, but what he read in its entirety: the Bible. The doomed man could even quote from the New Testament, unlike Adams.

Curious, Adams slunk into a local bookstore to buy a Bible. He began reading that night and consistently thereafter, not realizing he had purchased a King James Version. “I got bored to death,” he says. “It was driving me nuts.” So back to the bookstore he went, devouring Christian apologetics and reference books as well as writings from C.S. Lewis and Chuck Colson. “For the next nine or 10 months,” Adams explains, “I did a very calculated, calm examination of things.” His conclusion: Jesus Christ is an active, powerful presence in our lives. The former atheist again found himself in a church pew—but this time loving it.

Not everyone felt the same, however. When he mentioned his church attendance to a department secretary, her jaw dropped and the secret was out. (“Telling a secretary,” he deadpans, “is the same thing as announcing it to the world.”)

No matter, he thought. 

Since his trip to Ecuador, the teaching awards had piled up: He had been named to “Who’s Who Among College Teachers” twice, received a special teaching stipend from the North Carolina Legislature, a nomination for the Chancellor’s Teaching Award, a promotion to associate professor, and the “Outstanding Professor” and “Faculty Member of the Year” awards at UNCW. Plus, there were the consistently high praises from end-of-semester student reviews.

So when Adams applied for full professorship in 2006, he was not particularly anxious. Though he had “come out” as a conservative in writings, lectures and columns (most notably as a regular contributor to townhall.com), who cared? He also had published 11 peer-reviewed scholarly works and his first book (an essay collection entitled Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel: Confessions of a Conservative College Professor (Harbor House, 2004). He had many academic accolades and had watched other professors with similar resumes advance.

“Beforehand, there was great enthusiasm for my teaching. You heard comments like, ‘We’ve got to put you up for the Board of Governor’s award,’ ” Adams says. “That dropped off after my conversion to ‘well, he’s just someone we’ve got to put up with.’ ”

The Fight Begins

In 2005, an interim sociology and criminology chair at UNCW said in a faculty evaluation that Adams’ research performance suffered because of his “political activities.” When the university denied Adams the full professorship in 2006, it did so using “a made-up promotion standard that contradicted the faculty handbook, passed along false information about his academic record, deceptively edited documents to influence the faculty vote, explicitly discussed his constitutionally protected viewpoint and allowed a faculty member with an obvious and outrageous conflict of interest to cast a vote against him,” says French, the ACLJ’s lead counsel.

Adams took action, hiring attorneys from ADF and the ACLJ, the organizations he once loathed. ADF filed a lawsuit in 2007 contending that “the university denied Adams a promotion because his nationally syndicated opinion columns espoused religious and political views that ran contrary to the opinions held by university officials.”

Judge Howard initially ruled in UNCW’s favor in 2009, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s divisive ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos, which limits public employees’ right to protected speech.

“We thought that was fundamentally wrong,” Barham tells Citizen. “Professors are paid to think and write, and we want them to do that without threat of being punished.”

Thankfully, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. In 2011, it rejected UNCW’s request for an outright dismissal of Adam’s case and reversed Howard’s ruling, saying the precedent had been applied incorrectly: “(O)ur long-standing recognition (is) that no individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment,” the justices wrote.

In other words, when Adams included writings and public appearances in his tenure-application package, the school could not punish him for his viewpoints. Furthermore, the 4th Circuit granted the professor the right to present his case to a jury of his peers. It was a substantial victory.

But Adams, still working at UNCW, wondered when and how it would end.

“There was a certain point where I was overwhelmed,” he says. “There were so many things going on, so much noise, I’d have to say, ‘I can’t do this!’ That’s when you fall to your knees and turn it over to prayer.”

Victory

Finally, seven years after the case began, Adams and his attorneys waited to hear the federal court’s ruling. He listened with a pounding heart as the verdict was announced: UNCW had indeed violated his free-speech rights, with his conservative expression a “substantial or motivating  factor” in denying him the full professorship—even though his speeches and columns were not part of his official school duties.

That was this spring, on March 20. On April 8, the court ruled that UNCW must promote Adams, in addition to giving him $50,000 in back pay. And in early June, it ordered the school to pay more than $700,000 in attorneys’ fees.

“It was just an incredible sense of relief,” Adams admits.

Not to mention an incredible triumph—what “may well be the first of its kind,” as French points out—for teachers with contrary-to-the-establishment views.

Though UNCW was again appealing the case at press time, “Dr. Adams has reminded universities that it’s no longer open season on Christian and conservative professors,” says Barham. “It’s a warning that they need to treat them fairly and not penalize them for their views—to judge them fairly on their merit.”

Furthermore, the outcome of Adams v. Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington is “a reminder to Christians that we have rights, which we must be willing to defend,” Barham says. “God still works through our legal system and still blesses those who take a stand for Him.”

Two weeks after the momentous decision, Adams attended an event in Raleigh, where an elderly man spoke with him afterward. “The Lord has been preparing you, raising you up to (win this case) since you were a little boy,” he declared.

In a life marked by the implausible, that is definitely something Mike Adams can believe in.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Find out more about the Alliance Defending Freedom at TellAdf.org and the American Center for Law and Justice at aclj.org. To learn more about Garcetti v. Ceballos, visit http://bit.ly/1qiJRl6. To read the final court decision in Adams v. University of Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, visit http://bit.ly/1nusYn7.


Crystal Kupper is a freelance journalist living in Great Britain.


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Title XI and Transgenderism: The New Threat in Your Child's School

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Citizen magazine.

by Matt Kaufman

Feel free to download and share this FREE article—compliments of Focus on the Family Citizen magazine!

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Transgenderism - New Threat in Schools - Citizen - Sept. 2014

“Without Fanfare, Obama Advances Transgender Rights.”

With that headline, a widely circulated June 21 story from The Associated Press called attention to a little-noticed White House agenda: President Obama is trying to normalize transgenderism in much the same way his administration has sought to normalize homosexuality.

It’s an effort that’s taken many forms. Some are substantial, like adding “gender identity” to non-discrimination rules and having government-contracted health insurers cover sex-change operations. Others are symbolic, like including transgenderism in selected speeches and singling out ender-confused students to participate in the annual White House Easter egg roll.

“He has been the best president for transgender rights, and nobody else is in second place,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told AP reporter Lisa Leff.

Many Americans wouldn’t be as thrilled as Keisling, of course—and Obama knows it. Leff notes that “transgender rights groups and the administration have agreed on a low-key approach, both to skirt resistance and to send the message that changes are not a big deal.”

But in April, the federal Department of Education (DOE) quietly announced something that is actually a very big deal: That Title IX, a provision of 1972 education legislation that bars gender-based discrimination at schools receiving federal funds, also applies to gender-confused students.

In keeping with the low-key strategy, the controversial interpretation came in a non-controversial guise: a document on reducing sexual abuse in schools. But it was applied to all complaints of discrimination, not just those involving violence. If anyone doubted the broad intent of the document, it was confirmed a few weeks later by the president himself.

When the subject came up in a June 10 interview with Tumblr CEO David Karp, Obama talked about how Title IX had already created a culture change because it was “applied vigorously in schools.” Then he made clear that he intends to do the same with transgenderism.

“Title IX is a very powerful tool,” Obama said. “The fact that we are applying it to transgender students means they are going to be in a position to assert their rights if and when they see they are being discriminated (against). And that could manifest itself in a whole variety of ways.”

Restrooms and Locker Rooms

The administration’s move is a radical reinterpretation of the law, says Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Greg Baylor.

“It’s been understood for decades that ‘sex’ meant biological sex,” Baylor tells Citizen. “They used these sexual-assault guidelines as a cover to issue a new understanding of gender identity.

“There’s a serious question as to whether the Department of Education (DOE) has exceeded its authority,” he adds. “At the least, it shows disrespect for the legislative process and the right of the people’s representatives to determine our laws.”

The policy’s impact could be widely felt, Baylor warns, because practically every public educational institution—and many private ones—receives federal funds, directly or indirectly.

“It’s an alarming development,” he says. “The federal government holds a lot of cards. It’s not just offering an opinion. It’s applying pressure to adopt its worldview.”

And it’s been applying that pressure  even before the April announcement—for the last few years, in fact.

In 2011, a female elementary school student in Arcadia, Calif., who identifies as a boy complained to the DOE because she wasn’t allowed to use boys’ restrooms or locker rooms, or to stay with male students on an overnight trip. Last year, DOE “reached an agreement” with the school district to treat the girl as a boy, revamp its policies and retrain its teachers.

DOE hasn’t been the only agency to bring the pressure. In 2012, the Department of Justice pushed the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith into letting a 38-year-old anatomically male student use the women’s rooms on campus—rejecting the university’s proposed compromise to create a number of gender-neutral restrooms.

But with the Title IX announcement, school districts around the country need to decide their positions, Baylor notes—which makes it important to contact them now.

“This ruling is brand new, and parents need to make their voices heard up front,” he says. “Schools are getting pressure from the government. They need to hear from parents too.”

‘We’ve Got to Keep Going’

Though media accounts often hail these developments—with Time magazine featuring a cover billing transgenderism as “America’s next civil-rights frontier”—the Obama administration isn’t doing anyone any favors, says Baylor.

“There’s a worldview at work behind all this,” he explains. “It doesn’t view gender-identity disorder as an unfortunate condition, but as something to be celebrated and promoted. It’s not consistent with a Christian worldview—or with reality.”

Dale O’Leary, an author and journalist who has researched and written on gender issues for years, emphatically agrees.

“We have to keep in mind that (people who suffer from gender-identity disorder) are wounded people,” she tells Citizen. “But they refuse to acknowledge the wound.”

Instead, O’Leary says, they try to fix it through redefining their gender—and now through demanding that society accept that redefinition. The White House is only making things worse.

“The Obama administration is not fixing their wounds,” she says. “It’s telling them, ‘You’re fine— it’s society that’s the problem.’ But social acceptance doesn’t heal childhood wounds. They’re condemning these boys and girls to a terrible life.”

And it’s up to the rest of us to say so, she adds—to reject false compassion and say what people need to hear, not what they want to hear.

“As Christians, we cannot lie,” O’Leary says. “We have to be courageous enough to tell the truth. We have to get the message out. It’s so important. Even if we lose the first 20 times, we’ve got to keep going.”

TAKE ACTION

For more information on gender-identity issues in the schools and how to address them, download Focus on the Family’s new resource for parents at FocusOnTheFamily.com/EmpowerParents.


Matt Kaufman is a freelance journalist living in Illinios.


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