This "Gender Identity" Bill was written because of Carroll County
Local autonomy continues to erode
In June of last year, when Carroll County’s Family Life Advisory Committee decided to reduce the County health curriculum’s focus on gender identity and systemic oppression, the Maryland State Board of Education forced them to make it a focus anyway.
Do it, the State basically said behind closed doors, or else.
Now, in February, the State is trying to retroactively legislate that prior coercion into law, both to permanently take local control away from Carroll’s taxpayers when it comes to school curriculum, and to be able to claim they did so through an above board lawmaking process, instead of a backroom threatening one.
State forces County to teach gender identity
The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), requires that each school system throughout the State have a local Family Life Advisory Committee, whose purpose is to merge the State’s health curriculum framework with local community standards.
So that is exactly what Amy Guilford, chair of Carroll’s Family Life Advisory Committee, did. She took the State’s woke health curriculum framework, and modified it within the parameters she was allowed to, so it would better reflect the values of the people she represents.
Those modifications included things like:
Removing the topic of “Gender identity and expression”, which called for students to “Differentiate between sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and gender expression”
Changing the topic of “Sexual orientation and identity” to “Healthy relationships”
On the topic of “Sexual health”, removing instruction that would have students “Identify how systemic oppression and intersectionality impact the sexual health of communities of color”
Because of the way COMAR is written, Guilford’s expectation was that her Committee’s health curriculum would become the default option in Carroll County schools, and that the State’s woke alternative could be opted-into by parents who want their children to learn there are more than two genders and all the rest.
It was when Guilford was presenting her Committee’s recommendations to Carroll’s Board of Education, that she learned the State had already intervened behind closed doors, forcing Carroll to adopt the woke version of the health curriculum as the default option, knowing that, realistically, most parents will go with the default simply because it is the default.
Guilford was surprised, asking “Did we lose local control then, in this process?”. To which conservative Board member Donna Sivigny replied “Yes, this is a loss of local control”. “Yep” fellow conservative Board member Tara Battaglia confirmed.
Dorsey and Frazier side with the State
Liberal Board member Patricia Dorsey had a different view, almost suggesting in her tone the State was gracious for giving parents a choice at all. She said “Students can either take Health I or Health II as outlined by [the Maryland State Department of Education]” or “They can look at this alternative option”.
Former Commissioner Dennis Frazier, a Republican in name only who was running for Delegate at the time, was more enthusiastic, calling what the State was forcing on Carroll a “Great compromise”, before challenging the idea that local control was being lost to Carroll, considering he himself sits on a statewide committee that consults on the State’s health curriculum framework.
For his efforts advancing the State’s agenda over the County’s, he was met with a $6,000.00 campaign contribution from the State’s ultra-liberal Teachers Union PAC. It was an investment that yielded no return. Frazier would finish 7th out of 8 in a contest for 3 Delegate seats eventually won by incumbent April Rose, Chris Tomlinson, and Eric Bouchat.
Howard County Dems, State Superintendent, both meddling in Carroll
Now, House Bill 119 and Senate Bill 0119 have been jointly filed by Howard County Democrats Atterbeary and Lam, aiming to codify the coercion of Carroll into law across the State. The synopsis of the Bill reads like the goal is to give parents options, when in reality its function is to strip yet more decision making autonomy from local Boards of Education.
When Delegate Atterbeary presented the Bill to the Ways and Means Committee on February 1st, she lambasted the “misinformation” she’s received via email, people complaining about indoctrination and the loss of local control and such. She said the old health curriculum was created “Under the assumption that all students are heterosexual and cisgender, and this is not the case”. Now, with this Bill, the new health curriculum will be for “All different types of students”.
Testifying in support of the Bill was State Schools Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury, who, while wearing a mask, said “The framework lays out what needs to be taught” and that one of those topics is “Gender identity”. He invoked Carroll specifically, describing how the County wanted to leave parts of the framework out, a reference to gender identity, which he said would be illegal.
The Bill is still in Committee review now, and it remains to be seen whether or not it will be passed into law.