Education /

Maryland Department of Education Will Require Pre-K Students to Learn about Gender Identity and Expression

The state's health curriculum aims to examine how racism impacts sexual identity by middle school

Preschool-aged children in Maryland will have lessons on gender identity under the Department of Education’s health curriculum.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)’s Health Education Framework requires expansive instructions regarding gender and sexuality throughout a student’s education. Furthermore, the department prohibits teachers and administrators from being required to disclose if a student identifies as transgender to their parents.

According to the framework, pre-K students should “recognize and respect that people express themselves in many different ways” to meet the “gender identity and expression” requirement and acknowledge that “there are different types of families (e.g., singleparent, same-gender, intergenerational, blended, interracial, adoptive, foster, etc.)” as part of the “Family Life and Human Sexuality” section of the state’s health curriculum.

Kindergarten students are expected to name “a range of ways people identify and express their gender” and agree that “it is important to treat people of all gender identities and expressions with dignity and respect.”

First, second, and third graders are all expected to “recognize and respect” the various ways people may express their gender identities.

By fourth grade, students will be asked to “identify sexual orientation as a person’s physical and/or romantic attraction to an individual of the same and/or different gender.”

The MSDE states middle school students in grades six, seven, and eight should be able to explain sexual orientation and explain the differences between sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and gender expression.

Seventh graders are expected to “identify solo, vaginal, anal, and oral sex along with possible outcomes of each” and as well as “recognize racism and intersectionality and describe their impacts on sexual health.”

Ultimately, middle schoolers in the state are required to “describe how intolerance can affect others when aspects of their sexuality are different from one’s own” to meet the health education guidelines.

The MSDE guideline requires that by high school, students must be able to “identify how systemic oppression and intersectionality impact the sexual health of communities of color and other marginalized groups.”

Older high school students will receive instruction on how to respond to emergency situations and be required to “examine the ways in which emergency response varies based on sociocultural and socio-political factors such as race, income, ethnicity, gender, community type (rural, urban & suburban).”

While it is unclear if parents can opt their younger children out of the lessons, the guidelines state an “opt-out” option is permitted starting in the fourth grade.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said during an interview with CNN that parental education rights similar to the bill recently passed in Florida would not happen in Maryland.

“I think the bill was kind of absurd and not something that would have happened in our state,” he said.

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