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A recent article by [conservative activist] Christopher Rufo in City Journal, also cited at various places around the Internet such as The Daily Caller and Why Evolution is True, claims that:

Portland Public Schools has launched a war against the “gender binary” and adopted a radical new curriculum teaching students to subvert the sexuality of “white colonizers” and begin exploring “the infinite gender spectrum.”

I have obtained a cache of documents from a source inside Portland Public Schools that exposes the nature of this curriculum. The lessons seek to turn the principles of academic queer theory into an identity-formation program for elementary school students; it has been adopted in many of the district's K-5 classrooms.

...

The curriculum begins in kindergarten with an anatomy lesson featuring graphic drawings of children’s genitalia. The lesson avoids the terms “boy” and “girl” in favor of the gender-neutral variants “person with a penis” and “person with a vulva,” because, according to the curriculum, some girls can have penises and some boys can have vulvas. “Any gender and kid can have any type of body,” a related presentation reads.

...

By the end of fifth grade, the curriculum explicitly asks students to make a “commitment to change,” according to the dictates of gender ideology. Students receive a list of six commitments, including: “I commit to learning more about what LGBTQIA2S+ words mean and how they have changed over time”; “I commit to learning about the history and leadership of Black trans women”; “I commit to practicing pronouns and correcting myself EVERY time”; “I commit to attending QSA/GSA and being a leader at my school”; and “I commit to watching and reading books, movies, and TV shows that have LGBTQIA+ characters.”

However, the only citation in the article is a "cache of documents" from an anonymous source. Is there any independent confirmation of this information? In particular, has the curriculum described in the article (or one that is essentially identical to it) been adopted by any public elementary schools in the Portland area? I'd think that the contents of a curriculum that has supposedly been "adopted in many of the district's K-5 classrooms" would be pretty easy to verify.

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  • I've read them and am unable to find a reference to any specific schools, nor does it directly state all schools. To fit the criteria of the claim, presumably only two schools using the curriculum would be needed. Jul 29 at 0:14
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    This is phrased too vaguely to have a real answer. Does such a curriculum exist? Probably, lots of people and groups produce sample elementary school curricula. Has it been adopted in toto by any school or larger institution in Portland? I doubt it, but that would be an interesting and answerable question. Has any teacher anywhere in Portland adapted some element of the curriculum for their own teaching? Quite possible, but not really an interesting question, or even readily falsifiable.
    – antlersoft
    Jul 29 at 18:48

3 Answers 3

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I can confirm that some pages of the "cache of documents" are on google drive links of the Portland Public School website https://www.pps.net/Page/15891 under the heading "21-22 SY K-5 Growth and Development Lessons (Parent/Guardian Preview) "

There are 6 google drive links, one for each of grades K-5:

Kindergarten

First grade

Second grade

Third grade

Fourth grade

Fifth grade

For example, some of the kindergarten slides at the official site are:

enter image description here

enter image description here

The kindergarten teacher is instructed:

All language in the activities and slides are very intentional. Please follow what is written. Anytime you want to name something for all people, say “all genders” rather than “both genders” or “all genders” rather than “girls and boys.” Avoid the terms male/female for the anatomy diagrams and instead name the specific parts. For example, say “people with penises" or “if you have a vulva, ....”. This language is essential to not erase our trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse students and families.

Progressing from kindergarten to 5th grade, the drawings become more detailed. They are consistently labeled "person with vulva", "person with penis", "body with vulva", or "body with penis".

4th and 5th grade teachers are instructed:

It is likely that students will see the body parts and refer to this as the “male” system, and the second system as the “female” system. You should point out that you don’t gender each system because they are made up of body parts that can belong to someone no matter what their gender is.

(google drive states that Portland Public Schools K-5 official Susannah Lightbourne-Maynard is the owner of the documents and that anyone has permission to download)

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    Hm, the only discernable difference to me between "Person with an uncircumcised penis" and "Person with a circumcised penis" is that one of them of them is shorter and paler. Is there a subliminal message? Jul 30 at 20:14
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    I am torn, because the claim is so meaningless, but any mention of white colonizers or infinite gender spectrums?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 31 at 12:58
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    @Oddthinking no, "myriad ways to describe gender identities" is the official phrasing. There is apparently evidence that the same "Susannah Lightbourne-Maynard" that owns the documents in this answer, deleted other documents from google drive. twitter.com/realchrisrufo/status/1552441442270068736 The "cache of documents" is basically a further revision of the version in this answer (unit 4 became unit 5, term "middle parts" added, material added).
    – DavePhD
    Jul 31 at 13:10
  • @Oddthinking now I'm realizing that a pdf version of the "cache of documents" has many active links in it, and one leads to this google drive document docs.google.com/presentation/d/… that has the "infinite gender spectrum" and white colonizer material. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about google drive can determine if it is associated with Portland Public Schools or any of it's employees.
    – DavePhD
    Aug 4 at 16:07
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The source documents in OP article are closely related to, but go beyond, official Oregon and Portland Public School policy.

Portland Public School Administrative Directive 4.30.061-AD says:

“LGBTQ2SIA+” is a term that encompasses multiple gender identities and sexual orientations including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, Intersex, and Asexual. The plus sign (“+”) recognizes that there are myriad ways to describe gender identities and sexual orientations. It is also important to recognize that the challenges and barriers for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer can be different from the challenges and barriers faced by students with diverse and/or expansive gender identities and expressions.

and

“Two-Spirit" is used within some Indigenous communities, encompassing cultural, spiritual, sexual and gender identity. The term reflects complex Indigenous understandings of gender roles, spirituality, and the long history of sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures

So while it is not official policy of the whole Portland Public School system that White colonization is to be blamed, there is an official association between "Indigenous cultures" and "sexual and gender diversity".

Additionally, an official Oregon Department of Education website has a presentation titled ODE LGBTQ2SIA+ Inclusive Standards, Instruction, and School Communities by two state department of education officials which on slide 26 instructs teachers to:

Discuss colonized erasure of gender expansive ways of being

(But this is recommended for 10th grade, not K-5)

Going back to the OP article, on page 59 of the source documents, where the title "PPS Health Grade 1 Unit 5" appears, unit 5 is the growth and development unit for Portland Public School first graders according to this official source

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    It would be helpful if you clarify what sort of entity Portland Public Schools is and which actual schools, if any, are subject to their policies or influenced by their agenda. (See the comment by @IMSoP on the main post.)
    – Dan Romik
    Jul 29 at 21:32
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    The ODE presentation talks about colonization as being a part of the grade 10 plan, while the OP talks exclusively about K-5. You should probably include that this isn't K-5, if not remove it entirely as inapplicable.
    – Michael W.
    Jul 29 at 21:37
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    So, your conclusion is that the claim regarding the K-5 curriculum is what? You've quoted some defs from school sources, but it seems you come back to the slides for K-5 claim, while the OP asks for independent verification? The first doc (that you've quoted the LGBTQ2SIA def from) is not a curriculum at all, by the way, but a gender policy.
    – Fizz
    Jul 30 at 1:01
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    @Fizz that it's going beyond the official curriculum, which is more defined in this document oregon.gov/ode/educator-resources/standards/Documents/…
    – DavePhD
    Jul 30 at 1:16
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    @Fizz Portland Public Schools website also hosts multiple documents that says "the United States wrestles with two fundamental challenges to our commitment to provide a K–12 education to every child — the depth of the systemic racism undermining true educational equity in our K–12 school systems; and the rising tide of racist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, and White Christian nationalist sentiment being expressed in the mainstream of U.S. society...resilience calls on each of us to join the fight" pps.net/Page/18898
    – DavePhD
    Jul 30 at 1:43
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It's not clear that there is a full or comprehensive answer as to the questions of source or authenticity of what has been posted.

Note that Portland Public Schools (PPS) say that they are the largest public school district in Oregon, with more than 49,000 students in 81 schools.

https://twitter.com/PPSConnect

There are three linked short posts, the first being:

"PPS recognizes there is misinformation regarding our sexuality education classes in the media space. Here is the truth:

PPS’s health education, gender and sexuality curricula are aligned and consistent with anti-bias education and Oregon law."

https://twitter.com/PPSConnect/status/1552758157142740992

Christopher Rufo's full post is unrolled and thus a lot easier to read at https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1552391305778860032.html

He cross-references to his articles published elsewhere.

They don't seem to add much if at all, least of all any actual actual sources like who (or where the material was) published, or who wrote it. L. S. Spring and March 2021 are on the slides as author but nothing further is identifiable as far as can be seen.

Nor are any specific PPS schools in which the materials are, or have been, used.

Rufo does say that there's a fuller report to be read in City Journal (apparently a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a leading free-market think tank) and on his web site

If it's taken as read that this is indeed material that is being used, taking a few slides out of context does not not give anything like a reasonable picture of what kids are being taught over an extended period - of up to five years - rather than in one year (or less).

He does reference and provide a slide pack - 198 of 'em - the anonymously provided 'cache' - which takes kids through various stages (these appear to be kindergarden to eventually 4th and 5th grade questions) of sex/gender education. It's at the end of his piece at https://christopherrufo.com/portland-sexual-revolution/

It's a lot different from the fumbled couple of lessons we had with our form master (equivalent of home room school teacher I guess, who also taught us geography) about the age of 9 years old, in London in the 1960s.

The context here is set out - fairly simply initially, and then that develops and would appear to be guided over time.

Unlike over 50 years ago, the clarity and straightforward approach that is suggested, and the graded and steady development over time, indicates to me a lot more thought and consideration.

Life is a lot more complicated than it was taken to be 50+ years ago ..... 'subversion' even of those distant white colonizers (though much of the west coast colonization came, as I understand it, from Asia) , and the apparent simplicity of two genders, when even then some of our school mates and friends were unsure of their sexuality, seems a very long way away from these materials.

They seem consistent with what can be seen of the PPS comprehensive health education policy and within that comprehensive sexuality education.

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