Massachusetts High School Pushes To Erase 'Gendered Terms' From Biology Class

Slideshow defines gender as an individual's 'psychological sense of self'

Parents Defending Education
February 1, 2022

High schoolers in a Massachusetts biology class were asked during a lesson on human genetics to erase "gendered terms" from their vocabulary.

In a lesson on human genetics, Needham High School biology students learned to use inclusive language when discussing sex. An accompanying slideshow, which Parents Defending Education released last week, defines gender as an individual's "psychological sense of self" and asks students to research "gender fluidity" in nature.

Progressive ideology has crept into classrooms across the country. Radical education activists have called for "antiracist" math curricula that eliminate such "racist" practices as showing your work and arriving at the correct answer. One Virginia school district has proposed eliminating homework grades and extra credit assignments to promote "equity."

The presentation boasts popular progressive arguments on gender and sexuality. One slide includes definitions of "anatomical sex," "gender identity," "gender expression," and "attraction" and says that sex is not gender.

"Sex (sometimes called biological sex, anatomical sex, or physical sex) is comprised of things like genitals, chromosomes, hormones, body hair, and more," the slide provides as a definition for anatomical sex. "But one thing it’s not: gender."

That slide defines "gender identity" as an individual's "psychological sense of self."

"Who you, in your head, know yourself to be, based on how much you align (or don't align) with what you understand to be the options for gender," the slide reads.

Eliminating "gendered terms," according to another slide, ensures that "people with diverse (a)sexualities, (a)genders, bodies, and (a)romantic orientations are included and respected." Discussing biological sex in terms of men and women "marginalizes" those born with both male and female genitalia, "who have been persistently discriminated against."

After giving examples of hermaphroditic and sex-transitioning plants and animals, the presentation ends with an assignment: Students must research other examples of "gender fluidity" in nature.

Needham High School principal Aaron Sicotte told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement that the school is "proud" of its curriculum and hopes that lessons "appropriately reflect the needs of a diverse student body and the standards, values, and high academic expectations of the Needham community." Needham High School's course catalog notes that lessons in biology—including those offered to freshmen—and physiology include lessons on human sexuality. Parents have the option to remove their children from lessons they deem inappropriate.

Erika Sanzi, Parents Defending Education's director of outreach, said the slides are rife with "pseudoscience."

"Needham High School promised a science class and instead delivered a pseudoscience class," Sanzi said. "The slides shared by the biology teacher are harmful and wrong because they are factually inaccurate, sow confusion, and rely heavily on regressive sex stereotypes."

Progressive gender ideology has influenced schools in other ways. Many states and districts instruct teachers and administrators to withhold information from parents regarding their students' sexuality or "gender identity."

Update Feb. 1, 10:15 a.m.: This piece has been updated to include a statement from Needham High School principal Aaron Sicotte.