Controversy Sparked Over Gender Identity On PA Education Dept. Website

Calling it “Gender Theory Indoctrination,” a coalition of Republicans are demanding the resignation of the PA Secretary of Education.

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Justin Heinze,Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge

Posted Tue, Aug 9, 2022 at 12:08 pm ETReplies (68)


HARRISBURG, PA — A large group of Republicans are calling for the resignation of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education over the inclusion of gender identity information on the Department’s website.

The group of 21 GOP lawmakers in the state House labeled the website — which explains terms like transgender, assigned gender, binary gender and includes links to federal agency pages on gender-based violence and equality — as “Gender Theory Student Indoctrination.”

“The PA Department of Education is espousing a secular worldview on their website, and worldviews have been barred from public schools since the 1960s,” one of the GOP lawmakers, State Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland), said in a statement. “The secular worldview that there are more than two genders is faulty in and of itself, and can’t be proven, and the source and provided resources for this teaching should be removed from the classroom and the website immediately.”

Of particular concern in the letter signed by the lawmakers is the notion of a gender-neutral day, which the page offers as a way to teach students in grades 3-12 about gender stereotypes.

The letter comes immediately following coverage in national conservative media regarding the site, with one Pennsylvania Republican telling Fox News last week that it was tantamount to “grooming.” The Fox story was preceded by coverage in outlets like Breitbart and anger over the Department spread on social media.

Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin), calling it “reprehensible indoctrination lunacy,” related the situation to House Bill 1332, or the “Empowering Parents With Curriculum Transparency” bill, which passed the legislature in Dec. 2021 but was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf. The legislation would’ve required school districts to allow parents to readily access information online regarding their child’s curriculum.

“It’s about bringing the fights that get started on Fox News to the kindergarten classroom near you,” State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) said during a legislative hearing. “It’s about forcing our overburdened school districts to post every single thing they do online, so that right wing muckrakers, or for that matter, left wing muckrakers, can waste precious educational resources.”

The Department of Education maintains that the resources are an effort to ensure fairness and equity and to protect children from bullying.

“Republicans don’t want to talk about topics that truly impact Pennsylvanians,” Beth Rementer, a spokesperson for Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, told PennLive. “Students shouldn’t be leveraged as an extremist talking point. Hate has no place in Pennsylvania. The Wolf administration will continue to support policies to keep children in the classroom and safe from bullying.”

The Republican lawmakers who signed the letter include Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton), Rep. Mike Armanini (R-Elk), Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Butler), Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks), Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), Rep. Joe Hamm (R-Lycoming), Rep. Mike Jones (R-York), Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York), Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), Rep. David Maloney (R-Berks), Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), Rep. Leslie Rossi (R-Westmoreland), Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin)• Rep. Brian Smith (R-Jefferson), Rep. Perry Stambaugh (R-Perry), and Rep. David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster).