Planned Parenthood has long been known for its frank, scientific, and matter-of-fact advice on how parents should talk to their kids about their bodies and sex. But the organization’s recently revamped website has scrapped biological explanations for male-female distinctions in favor of a non-binary view of sexuality and gender, even for the very young.
The new guidelines include lengthy discussions on gender identity for all ages and encourage adults to explain to preschoolers that one’s private parts “don’t make you a boy or a girl.”
Both the old and new Planned Parenthood recommendations for talking to preschoolers include explicit explanations of how a woman becomes pregnant. However, unlike the new, detailed discussions of multiple subjects over dozens of paragraphs, the old guidelines consisted of only two additional possible preschooler questions, and the answers were relatively anodyne:
On these same topics, the new guidelines blur the lines considerably. Regarding breasts: When answering questions, don’t worry about going into every detail. For example, if your little one asks what those spots on their chest are. You can say, “Those are nipples. Everybody has nipples.” You don’t have to explain breastfeeding or why everyone has nipples even though not everyone breastfeeds.
From there, the advice jumps into a discussion of gender, giving a nod to the traditional definition, but taking great pains to incorporate the latest thinking about “gender identity”:
While the most simple answer is that girls have vulvas and boys have penises/testicles, that answer isn’t true for every boy and girl. Boy, girl, man, and woman are words that describe gender identity, and some people with the gender identities “boy” or “man” have vulvas, and some with the gender identity “girl” or “woman” have penises/testicles. Your genitals don’t make you a boy or a girl.
You can say that most girls have vulvas and most boys have penises/testicles. You may want to emphasize that it doesn’t matter too much what parts someone has—that doesn’t tell you much about them. But you can make that decision based on your values and how you plan to talk with your kid about gender as they grow up.
The organization’s website includes recommendations not just for preschoolers, but gives pointers for talking to children of all ages about their bodies, gender identity, relationships, sexuality, and reproduction. The new guidelines are quite extensive, delving into each topic for each age group far deeper than previous iterations and break new ground, even for an organization known for progressive attitudes about sex and sexuality.
Throughout the guidelines, the underlying message regarding a child’s gender (sex) is that it is unknown and unknowable at birth. Parents are told that “your kid figures out what their gender is really early on—and they’ll usually tell you. So in preschool and in early elementary school, trans kids are starting to realize that they’re not the gender everyone said they were when they were born.”
While Planned Parenthood encourages talking to children about most everything related to their bodies, sexuality and reproduction, the guidelines make one big exception: “Gender identity isn’t about what kind of anatomy you have—and asking transgender and gender nonconforming people about their bodies is NEVER okay.”
While Planned Parenthood links to a number of websites related to the topics covered, the website itself does not indicate the medical or scientific sources used to formulate the guidelines, recommendations, and information on gender identity versus biological sex.
source–jeryl bier, weekly std,