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Transgender Activists Crusade Through Red State Schools

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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Transgender activists have held considerable sway in blue state schools for the better part of a decade, but their goal was never to stop at California’s border. These radical ideologues intend to reach every American child with their perverse ideology and have spent the last few years crusading through red state schools to achieve that goal. And they’re making headway.


To expose the schools caving to the whims of committed activists, Parents Defending Education (PDE) submitted hundreds of public records requests to districts in red states seeking any policies or guidance regarding transgender and gender identity issues. Unbeknown to most parents, numerous schools in states thought to be safe from this ideology have succumbed to outside pressure.

One state that PDE investigated was Utah. The Ogden School District in Utah responded to PDE’s records request with data on students identifying as transgender in the state. In 2015, only five children in Utah were undergoing a “medical transition” to change genders by receiving “gender transition treatment.” That number then increased by over 11,000% to 552 by 2019. Utah now has approximately 1,400 students ages 13 to 17 identifying as transgender. The Williams Institute has an even higher estimate for children in this age group, at 2,100 in the state.

The district’s guidance explains that social media is a major contributing factor to this trend, with the content on platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat playing a key role. However, the ongoing social contagion is in many ways being exacerbated by K-12 schools themselves. Through peer pressure and access to explicit adult-intended information, children often fall prey to gender ideology during school hours without parental supervision. Rather than provide transparency to parents, many schools will hide students transitioning to another gender from their families.


Districts in Utah that PDE found to have such policies include the Alpine School District, North Summit School District, and the Kane County School District. In most cases, the Utah School Boards Association directly provided these policies and encouraged the adoption of them.

PDE discovered the same situation last year in Idaho where school districts were encouraged to adopt policies with similar language from the Idaho School Boards Association. These associations are influenced by transgender activists who use them as trojan horses to enter schools with unsuspecting communities. Hence the shock and betrayal felt by parents when they learn their child’s school is engaging in secretive practices (such as encouraging double-identities for students with gender dysphoria) that would never win majority support if put on a local ballot. 

Another state PDE looked at was Ohio. The Williams Institute estimates that approximately 8,500 children ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender in Ohio. Districts in the state with policies that keep the gender status of students hidden from parents include Akron Public Schools and Columbus City Schools.

Akron Public Schools has a policy that states district staff will work with students “and/or” their parents regarding transgender issues. Districts will often use this language to avoid admitting parents will be left in the dark while also signaling parents do not need to be involved. Columbus City Schools policy for parents who oppose their children changing genders is to subordinate their role to mere opinion-givers. District staff then “continue to work with families and students in an effort to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.” Both districts either leave parents out of the equation or try to force them into accepting a compromise with their kids.


The Columbus City Schools district previously paid consultants $24,000 to provide staff with professional development on “queer and trans inclusion.” The consultants recommended the district adopt a policy that would allow them to hide a student’s gender identity from parents. The training included the “Wheel of Power/Privilege,” which is a diagram that divides people by how privileged or marginalized they are perceived to be. It includes categories such as “trans,” “nonbinary,” “undocumented,” “cisgender woman,” and “cisgender man.” In this case, Columbus City Schools paid consultants to specifically help inject gender ideology into its curriculum.

Transgender activists began their mission to reach children in blue state schools in the early 2010s, but now are fully committed to the idea of also capturing children in red states with their dangerous ideology. Unfortunately, as we can see in places like Utah, Idaho, and Ohio, they are succeeding at a frightening pace.

Any chance of stemming the tide of gender ideology in our nation’s schools will require parents and communities to speak up and hold their officials accountable. This radical and destructive dogma poses possibly the most dangerous threat to America’s youth today. If we remain silent, we could lose an entire generation of children.


Casey Ryan is a writer and investigative reporter at Parents Defending Education.


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