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Gender Bias

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis / WashingtonDispatch.com
September 2, 2003

The old joke goes something like this: "If somebody actually is trying to kill you, then you're not really paranoid." The statement is, of course, true, but that doesn't stop people from insisting that even those who are justified in the belief that they are being targeted for harm should nonetheless behave "just like everyone else."

The contemporary analogy goes something like this: "If males and females really are different from one another, then it's not gender bias to treat them differently or to hold them to different standards." Of course, this statement is also true, but that has not been a deterrent to those on the Left, whose insistence on promoting "gender neutrality" has in fact resulted in extremely biased policies based on "gender."

There are many problems with so-called gender neutrality, the absurd insistence on which is an integral part of the left/liberal agenda. First, in the name of eliminating or neutralizing gender bias (i.e., treating males differently than females), those on the Left inevitably exacerbate it. Since males and females actually are fundamentally different from one another, to propose to treat them as if they weren't introduces, by definition, a bias against one or the other, or both.

Second, when liberals (I'm speaking particularly of liberal educators) use the term "gender neutrality," they don't mean treating both "genders" (read "sexes") even-handedly. What they really mean is that both males and females should be expected to behave like females. But further, they mean that "gender neutrality" should be the policy except where gay, lesbian, and "transgender" students are concerned. In these cases, favoritism should always be displayed toward non-heterosexual students, and the interests of heterosexual students should be subordinated to those of "gender minorities."

This practice on the part of those who purport to favor gender neutrality is patently absurd, not to say probably illegal. It makes a mockery of their presumed position in favor of "equal treatment of all students regardless of 'gender orientation'" (which is what I understand "gender neutrality" to mean). Like the policies and practices that have resulted from affirmative action, those arising out of the canard of gender neutrality only skew outcomes further toward the perverse and indefensible.

But it is instructive to take the discussion back even further, to the very use of the word "gender." Unfortunately, this word, which originally designated a grammatical quality of nouns in (particularly) Romance languages, has come to be used instead of "sex" in the lexicon of the politically correct. In eliminating the word "sex," the gender Nazis have substituted a word to which they have been able to attach codicils whose utter absurdity would have been obvious if they had tried to attach them to the word "sex."

"Gender" admits of a much fuzzier and more debatable meaning than "sex." There can be, for instance, "gender choices" among humans; that is, men and women can "choose" a "gender identity" much more easily than they can a "sex identity," the presence of those pesky primary sex characteristics being pretty difficult to explain away. Thus the word "gender" is useful in the promulgation of a political agenda which includes foisting on American citizens the erroneous notion that sexuality and sexual characteristics are, or should be, negotiable.

Indeed, whereas it is most difficult not to know with a high degree of certainty one's "sex," Harvey Milk High School in New York City, admission to which has been limited to gay, lesbian, and transgender students, will now also save a place for you if you are even so much as "questioning" your "gender identity." There are a number of serious issues arising from this state of affairs.

Part of the backlash that will very possibly result from the Left's continued pandering to "gender minorities" is the alienation of other minority groups — including African-Americans and Hispanics — which make up a not-insignificant part of the liberal/Democrat political base. These racial/ethnic minorities are beginning to voice legitimate complaints about the quality of education their children receive. The substance of their complaints is that their children's educational opportunities are being consigned to a back burner in favor of catering to mostly white, mostly privileged, mostly intelligent so-called "gender" minorities. This is especially true in New York City with regard to the aforementioned "Gender High."

The $3.2 million currently earmarked to make sure a few hundred generally high-achieving gay, lesbian, and transgender students are assured of being given hothouse-flower treatment means that there are three million fewer dollars available to the tens of thousands of racial/ethnic minority students who attend substandard schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx. These students are truly at risk and stand to benefit most from the educational resources that can be purchased with that kind of money.

While I often bemoan the fact that public education in America has tended to neglect intellectually gifted students, and while I think that resources should be committed to insure that high achievers as well as students at risk receive what they need to succeed academically, the fact is that "gender identity" is not a legitimate basis on which to single out for special treatment a group of students.

High School of the Arts? Yes, and emphatically so. High School for gifted science and math students? You bet. Magnet schools offering students with high aptitudes enriched learning environments in various academic and vocational disciplines? I'm all for it. School vouchers? Absolutely.

Each of these options offers educational opportunities to students based on their intelligence, skills, and aptitudes; that is, based on education-related criteria and not solely on genetic/cultural happenstance. In addition, such educational options provide the means for many low-income students to rise above socio-economic limitations. They're legitimate alternatives for improving the state of primary and secondary public education in America today.

Liberal politicians and educators are in the process of bombing American education back to the stone age; that is, back to the deplorable discriminatory conditions that obtained prior to Brown v. Board of Education. The criteria for selecting students to attend Harvey Milk High School is no less discriminatory than those of the most egregious racially discriminatory schools in the pre-Civil Rights Act south. It's "separate but equal" all over again, but this time those on the left — who 50 years ago manned the barricades in the effort to eliminate discrimination — now defend it. Things have come full circle. Left/Liberals now stand for prejudice, and their dangerous discriminatory policies advance nothing less than a fascistic political agenda.

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