Letters to the Editor

Teaching students about LGBTQ
    Re.: The Orinda News September article titled “OUSD Looks at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”
    I have been in medicine for nearly 50 years, specializing in endocrinology. The male and female biology are well known to me. I have worked with patients with sexual and gender identity issues. I have seen the issue from the patient’s perspective.
    The new theory of gender, which now underlies almost everything in our society from pre-school curricula to government regulations, is devoid of any connection to human biology and the heretofore-inextricable connection between sex and gender. These are the foundational tenets of this theory:
    Gender is a social phenomenon, unrelated to biological sex.
    The individual’s choice of gender requires partial or complete change in phenotypic sex.
    Sex is “assigned” at birth.
    Biological sex does not exist; it is continuum.
    Language must be changed. Misgendering requires punishment. “Woman” was relabeled as “menstruating person,” “pregnant person,” and “birthing person.”
    “Gender dysphoria” was appropriated to support claims that social experience of gender is internal, immutable and biologic in nature. There is growing concern gender dysphoria applies to only a few, with the majority driven by a fad.
    Biological fact: all organisms in the evolutionary chain above worms reproduce sexually. It takes a male gamete (sperm) and a female gamete (ovum) to reproduce. There are no transitional gametes in a continuum between the sperm and ovum. If an individual produces ova, it’s female. If an individual produces sperm, it’s male. At least let’s not lose the connection to biology.
    Rather than promoting gender transition, we can accommodate the need for extending the range for non-normative gender behavior without irremediable medical treatments, while providing appropriate treatment for children with true gender dysphoria
    Recommended reading about the proposed LGBTQ curriculum:
    1. National Sex Education Standards (NSES) outlines the details of the transgender curriculum, starting with grade 2: https://bit.ly/3DL0mlr.
    2. The writings of Kim Westheimer, the Director of Strategic Initiatives for Gender Spectrum, an advisor to the NSES curriculum and school consultant. The organization provides lesson plans, faculty training, etc. Conflict of interest seems apparent.
    We can teach children to be kind, respectful, accepting of self and others without ignoring established scientific principles, denying rationality and creating lifelong confusion for our children.
    Proceed cautiously. Your children depend on it.
    – Rachelle Halpern MD

DEI’s are Necessary
    The Orinda News (Oct. 2021 issue) printed the letter to the editor “Question the DEI Specialist.” 
    Here’s my response.
    I graduated from San Ramon High School. I would say that the level of diversity at the time did little to prepare me for my experiences where I found myself culturally and linguistically in a minority living in France and Portugal, and then in Senegal where I found myself also in a racial minority. 
    Preparation for such experiences is much to ask of a high school particularly almost half a century ago. With today’s world getting smaller, I think a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) expert in OUSD is a great idea.  
    OUSD schools do not use tests but admit all qualified residents and some others. As typically in public schools, this leads to a high degree of diversity in some categories, for example, in physical abilities and a variety of learning and behavior differences. 
    DEI is needed to address differences in the students to assure service to all, as well as to “talent” (those who excel at testing). Talent in its broader sense also cannot be reduced to those who excel at academic testing; university level admissions at many institutions have come to question the use of testing in admissions due to inherent blind spots and biases.  
    There are other categories of diversity that make the issue much more interesting than the assumed talent verses the disadvantaged. Gains for DEI are not losses for talent; they are gains for all. In corporate settings, DEI is a metric used as one indicator of sustainable productivity and a resilient work environment. It is also used to tailor products and services to penetrate competitive markets.  
    In life, our youth can expect to face some non-trivial challenges; one of the most important skills they will need is the ability to communicate and collaborate with people of differing backgrounds. 
    For example, communication with those who understand in a way that you do not, or vice versa, is one of the critical abilities that makes a high functioning individual. One need not go far; right here in the Bay Area many corporate talent searches prioritize international experience. The value of the ability to function in diversity is recognized in that arena. 
    We are fortunate to live in this fine community with some of the finest schools. DEI can help to make them better.  
    – Jeff Violet