Petition’s misconceptions show lack of understanding

To the editor:

The Human Rights Commission would like to respond to the June 15 letter by Mr. Thom expressing his confusion over the attack on human rights presented by a recent petition to the ISD 88 School Board. In his message, Mr. Thom demonstrates a lack of basic understanding as to what the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” actually encompass; the misconceptions presented in the letter and the petition itself speak to the importance of further community education surrounding these topics.

In reality, pronouns are in fact a primary element of gender identity. This includes the pronouns of he, she and they, all of which can indeed be found in classroom instruction materials at any grade level, including kindergarten.

Sexual orientation, which refers to the gender(s) one is attracted to, is a fundamental component to familial relationships such as mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, etc. These relationships are referenced not only in classroom discussions but are quite literally a first-grade learning standard.

There are two possible explanations for these arguments: 1) misunderstanding of basic terms or 2) intentional misuse of said terms in an attempt to eliminate any references within our public schools to specific components of the terms that do not agree with personal opinions/beliefs. Option 1 supports the HRC’s mission of continuing to educate our community. Option 2 presents a clear attack on the human rights of individuals whose sexual orientation or gender identity do not align with the letter writer or petitioners’ personal convictions. Both possibilities warrant further attention from our commission.

Members of the HRC Executive Committee are Larry Czar, Wendi Ringhofer, Kristen Sprenger and Casey McMullen.

Casey McMullen

New Ulm


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