A recent Pew survey reveals that 33 percent of American public school teachers believe that American parents should not have the right to exempt their children from lessons on so-called “gender identity.” That means not only that one-third of teachers believe that “whether someone is a boy or girl can be different from the sex they were ‘assigned at birth,’” but also that the same percentage are convinced that public schools, not parents, should be the ultimate arbiters of what gets taught to children. Moreover, 31 percent of all American adults agree. 

So although the majority of Americans support parents’ rights to determine their children’s exposure (or lack thereof) to the concept of “gender identity,” there is now a sizable minority of American adults who would prefer that all of our children effectively be intellectual and emotional wards of the state

Of course, those of us willing to acknowledge that the gender-fluid emperor is wearing no clothes must continue to insist on parents’ rights. For myriad academic and cultural reasons, it is indeed urgent that we achieve universal school choice, to free our children from the clutches of those educators for whom ideology supersedes basic literacy

But the sad and scary reality is that with 31 percent of (disproportionately young) American adults buying into the notion that public schools ought to be able to indoctrinate kids in any belief system against their parents’ wishes (let alone in one predicated on pseudo-tolerant, anti-scientific lies), we simply won’t be able to keep gender ideology away from our kids. Even if they don’t attend public school. Even if they are homeschooled. This nonsense has become too pervasive to avoid. 

Therefore, we the rational majority have to do more than advocate for policies that push back on the hegemony of public schools in American life. We need to actively tell our own kids an age-appropriate version of the truth: Some people believe that boys can become girls and vice-versa. That is, self-evidently, not true. Saying that it’s not true hurts some people’s feelings. But feelings don’t make it true, just like two plus two remains four even if someone claimed that it was five (and that your insistence on it being four makes you a mean person). 

After all, the ultimate goal should not be to keep our kids in ignorance of gender ideology. It should be to make them invulnerable to the intellectual, emotional and spiritual poison of this ideology, and to that of other sacred cows that masquerade as truths. From that vantage point, preemptively addressing such an ideology at home is like a vaccination that introduces the disease in order to ward it off. 

The prevalence of a belief in gender ideology among disproportionately influential, predominantly elite young people can in large measure be chalked up to many youths’ unchecked (and uncritically celebrated) empathy. Many of our youths in high school and college who are introduced in class or online to the notion that Americans who identify as transgender are being denied basic rights are unlikely to question this claim. They have been indoctrinated at the hands of both parents and teachers in the twin ideas that progress is always good and that “progress” entails discarding universal truths when they conflict with a given person’s individual “truth.” Today’s young people largely accepted what they were told about “gender identity” by professors and online influencers because they were not intellectually or emotionally prepared to refute it. 

Let’s make sure that the next generation is less gullible, and readier to accept and articulate reality. 

My husband and I explained gender ideology to our third and first graders a few months ago. They asked lots of questions, which we answered in a factual and apolitical way. The third grader, confused about why any of this is necessary and exemplifying how the unadorned truth can breed genuine tolerance, said at one point: “But if a boy likes to play with dolls, he’s still just a boy.” So, my son — an 8-year-old boy obsessed with baseball statistics and attending Catholic school in the year 2024 — thinks as a matter of course that a boy is defined by the fact of his basic biology, not by a judgment about his traditional masculinity. As a result, he innocently reflects a baseline assumption of inclusiveness that would have been unthinkable as little as a generation ago — one that would eradicate any perceived need for gender ideology were it permitted to exist without interference.  

This is why the gender ideologues are so hell-bent on introducing such regressively essentialist concepts and categories to young children: by teaching them that facts are in the eye of the beholder, they actively undo kids’ relationship to reason, making the nation’s future adults easy targets for their lies. 

This is exactly why we don’t need to be afraid of those lies. If we ready our kids to see them for what they are, the truth, in the end, will set us freer than any laws banning untruths ever could.