One Lincoln, Nebraska, Superintendent says handouts distributed recently to middle school teachers on gender neutrality isn’t about politics. It’s about not being “judgmental.” As’s Deena Winter reports:

A Lincoln middle school staffer gave teachers training documents advising them not to use “gendered expressions” by calling students “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen,” but to instead use more generic expressions like campers, readers, athletes or even purple penguins to be more “gender inclusive.”

A handout called “12 easy steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” advised teachers to avoid separating students by gender. …“Always ask yourself, ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” said Step 1 of the handout. …

Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel told KLIN Radio’s Drive Time Lincoln show Wednesday he was “happy” and “pleased” with the training materials because the school district wants all children to be successful and not feel like outcasts or be afraid to go to school. He said the school district needs to be inclusive and educate and understand all children and address bullying.

“We don’t get involved with politics,” he said. “We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids… and we can’t be judgmental.”

“Gender-neutral” materials such as these are supposed to be part of largely anti-bullying efforts, but many members of the community believe these training materials go way too far:

Al Riskowski, executive director of the conservative Nebraska Family Alliance, said his group has supported legislation to combat bullying, but the training materials go “way beyond trying to teach someone how to respect another individual” or understand gender identification or sexual orientation to a “whole new idea of boy-girl.”

Teaching students to respect their peers as individuals is a principle most reasonable people can agree upon.

Yet Winter went on to report that the handouts were not meant for students or their parents but for staff members on “a district equity team.” Parents in Lincoln—and anywhere else for that matter—certainly have a right to know that a deeply politicized agenda masquerading under an anti-bullying/toleration banner is being foisted on their children.