June 07, 2019 - Friday
Wisc. Science Teacher Experiments with Gender
"I had no advanced warning." Those are the words every parent despises when it comes to controversial lessons in the classroom. And nothing can be more controversial than a K-5th grade teacher "coming out" as another gender to children.
For Wisconsin parents, the idea that Allis Elementary School science teacher Mark Vincent Busenbark would sit his classes down and show 5 and 6 year old children a video where he's dressed like a woman is astonishing. There's something he tells them that he's hidden from them, his fellow teachers, and his family. "I am a transgender." He acknowledges that some kids may not know what that means. "Maybe you've only heard [the word "transgender" through the] filter of those who hate and fear."
Then he picks up a transgender children's book and explains that the character starts as a girl, but then changes into who she's supposed to be become. "I started as a boy, and I hope to grow into who I am going to become," he says. At the end, he reintroduces himself, "... I am going to take my wife Stella Steel's last name, and I am going to use, not mister, and not miss, but 'mix. So you can call me, 'Mix Steel' ... And for my pronouns, I'm using 'they,' 'them,' and 'their.'"
When their children got home that night, moms and dads across the district were horrified. "I've had to sit down with my kids and explain that what they heard is flat-out wrong and incorrect," one mom said. "We will be kind to others, but we WILL NOT be involved in adult games of make-believe. Shame on those that support this!" According to Fox News, "another parent reportedly confronted the school about the issue but said school officials brushed it off."
Well, they'll have a hard time brushing off a legal challenge, which is what may be coming next. Liberty Counsel has already sent a records request to the school district to find out what other LGBT activism has been promoted in the classroom. Meanwhile, the accounts from parents are jaw-dropping. In an interview airing today, I had the chance to talk to one of those dads on "Washington Watch." He didn't even know about Busenbark's new identity until he was reading through the latest school news. "We get a lot of messages," he told me. "I'm seeing, they [have] a fun run event coming up. There's a teacher coming out as transgender. There's a math assignment next week -- and I thought to myself, 'Wait a minute, what in the world did I just read?'"
"It wasn't a notification to parents that there was an individual that had made that decision at the school. There was a notification that they had created the video and sat down with K-5 and already talked to kids about this teacher coming out... I had not seen the video at that point... And again, it was an after the fact. 'We'd like to let you know that we spoke to your kids today about such and such.' And so it was really kind of a shocking thing that left me with a lot of questions immediately and [made me] quite disturbed."
He explains that he has a sixth-grade son -- much older than the child in Mr. Busenbark's class -- and he hasn't even had a talk about gender identity with him! "I honestly could never have imagined having had to do that." And it's not that he expects the public schools to teach what the Bible teaches. But these are first graders, he says. They're very impressionable. And the message he's sent to all of his kids -- four boys -- has always been "respect your teachers... They have your best interests in mind. Well, not now. And it's very difficult to explain to a six-year-old... that there are exceptions now."
The school itself, the dad explains, is in Madison -- which is a predominately liberal area. So he was surprised, when he posted something on Facebook, how much support he got. "I received so many individuals that were commenting, 'Someone needs to bring this up,' 'Somebody needs to file a suit against the school,' 'Someone needs to file suit against the state.'" Essentially, the message from everyone was: this needs to be stopped.
We cannot, this father told moms and dads listening across the country, "sit back and accept the status quo. I would encourage parents [who] are out there that have strong feelings about this to band together -- maybe find each other. I know that that might be difficult to do, but you know, again, there are great organizations out there -- several of them that are a resource for those who don't feel like they have a voice on their own." Silence is not an option.
For more information on what you can do, check out our pamphlet, "A Parent's Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.