Wingnut Alarms Go Off Over School’s Transgender Clownfish Lesson

A class on gender diversity "featuring all-girl geckos and transgender clownfish" at an Oakland, California elementary school has conservative groups in an uproar, the SF Chronicle reports:

Clownfish "The lesson on gender differences was one small part of a much larger effort to offer what parents last year said they wanted at the school: a warm, welcoming, safe and caring environment for all children, said Principal Sara Stone."

But conservative group Pacific Justice Institute isn't happy that "fourth- and fifth-grade students learned about the crazy world of gender within the animal kingdom with lessons about single-sex Hawaiian geckos, fish that switch genders and boy snakes that act 'girly.' because the lesson was that "some boys can act like girls; some girls can have boy body parts; and some biological boys feel like a girl inside their hearts."

The Chronicle continues

These Oakland children will be told there are more than two genders, the organization advised the media in a press release last week.

"This instruction does not represent the values of the majority of families in Oakland," said attorney Kevin Snider in a statement. Calls to the Pacific Justice Institute on Monday were not returned.

The kids seemed to be cool with it:

At the end of the lesson, fourth-grader Desmond Pare thought that was no big deal.

"I think it's about how it doesn't matter who you are," he said. "If you're a girl who likes girl stuff, or a boy who like boy stuff, it just matters if you're human."

(via sfist)


  1. says

    This is literally as stupid as right-wing Christians getting upset that the Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice-versa.

    They’re upset that children are being taught that there are more than two genders? Uh, there ARE more than two genders. Thats reality. These people are upset that their children are being taught facts. This is not a case of opinions, this is about facts. These bigots are simply wrong.

    There are more than two genders. That’s reality. Sorry, Christards.

  2. anon says

    Actually, the easiest way to get into this topic is with flowering plants, since most species have both male and female organs, but some species do not. Otherwise, it can get very confusing.

  3. Bear says

    Grow up Oakland folks. Kids can handle it just fine. In fact Fear, elsewhere described as False Evidence Appearing Real, is the oldest unsound argument in the world for keeping the truth from people. Socrates was poisoned for “corrupting” the young men of Athens with his interogatory inquiries into the nature of the universe, establishing the Socratic method in the doing. It has been the illumined basis of Western education ever since.

  4. corvidae says

    I’m very much preferring children to adults at the moment.

    Born into the world not caring about the differences between people (to a large degree – I am aware of the sociological and neurological research that disputes this idea) and then we feed them rubbish that doesn’t even represent the real world.
    Won’t someone think of the children?

  5. Rin says

    As a “Christard” myself who has a PhD and two Masters I rather resent the sweeping accusation that we’re all anti-science and idiots.

    That said, teaching kids about hermaphrodites, frogs that change genders, etc has never been a problem at any school that I have either attended or taught at and these were not even public schools. I taught at, well … you know, those Christard schools that have saints out front and high percentages of graduates who go on to attend higher education.

    Teaching kids about frogs that shift gender to explain transgender and homosexuality is just bad science. One is for the purpose of balancing or enhancing populations (frogs) and the other is human expression. Frogs and clownfish don’t make love, start families, worry about 401K’s, and buy china. Succinctly, humans are more complicated than clownfish.

    If the real point is to teach tolerance and acceptance then taking kids into sociology class and explaining to them that there are transgender people and homosexual people and what that means is more appropriate than showing them a frog and expecting them to equate that. You can explain that these are marginalized groups, and that an ethical decent person would respect that. Kids aren’t so stupid that they cannot grasp that kind = good, bullies = bad. If they can’t get that basic premise then all the clownfish, snakes and frogs in the world won’t change that.

    Trying to explain natural anomalies and equating it to human existence dumbs down the whole idea, IMO. In the animal kingdom lions eat the cubs of other male lions once they take over the pride. Sick babies are sometimes killed, abandoned and eaten by the mothers. If one bird in a flock is injured it is “kicked out” in many cases. Nature is brutal. We’re trying to rise above it.

  6. just_a_guy says

    @RIN: OK, fine. But maybe children’s science educations are STUPIDLY censored. And maybe that’s a FAR bigger cause of our science-education system lagging behind the rest of the world than most people realize. I think the Rethugs like that, tho, cuz more kids will grow up with no skills, no options, working for minimum wage part-time at Walmart when there are openings, and carrying Tea-Party banners on their days off to fight THEIR OWN rights.

    It’s a little bit Pol Pot actually: Why would the Rethug ruling-caste REALLY want more than a few educated people anyway!!

    @ LK: In this case, I think you are dead on. These Christards are about the same as the Christards who persecuted Gallileo.

  7. Jonathan says

    I live down the hill from the school. Oakland, especially the hills is very progressive. We have the most lesbian couples in the US.

    The school is in the somewhat upscale Redwood Heights where a lot of successful lesbians live and their kids go to this school, the best school in the Oakland school district.

  8. MadM@ says

    they should teach the concepts of hermaphroditism with cannabis….that’d really freak those parents out

    @RIN you don’t need to be telling us this stuff- you need to be talking to members of your community that are giving your religion a very bad name in the media. There is a very strong anti-science movement in the (granted, heterogeneous) christian community. You are a person on the inside- help some of your ignorant brethren out.

  9. Jacknasty says

    “Teaching kids about frogs that shift gender to explain transgender and homosexuality is just bad science. One is for the purpose of balancing or enhancing populations (frogs) and the other is human expression.”

    Sorry, but for all we know, transgender and homosexuality in humans could be expressed for the exact same purpose – balancing or enhancing populations. Both seem to crop up across all human societies. It’s certainly possible they serve some evolutionary purpose.

  10. redball says

    Typical anti-science (anti-intellectual, really) conservative religious BUFOONERY.

    My sister’s roommate grew up in Romania & moved to the US at age 13. The material being taught in her US 8th grade math class was stuff she had already learned in Romania’s 5TH GRADE! Back in Romania, at the age of 10, she was staying up till midnight doing homework (which was apparently typical/expected).

    America, how I’ve loved thee but seriously, looks like this “empire” is in decline. Look at us! Look at the stories in our news! Wow….

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