Let’s Tell The Kids About Sex Change

This is a weird one

A teacher at a Durham private school underwent a sex change over the summer, sparking a debate among school administrators and at least one parent over how to approach the issue in class.

Leslie Webster has taught music at Duke School for Children for 12 years as a woman but started the new school year Wednesday as a man.

The parents of all 460 students at the private elementary and middle school, which isn’t affiliated with Duke University, received a letter this week notifying them of Webster’s sex change and outlining plans to inform students on Sept. 4.

School headmaster Dave Michelman said in the letter that "children will be told that Leslie was born a female but felt like a male" and became a man with doctors’ help.

The parents rightly pitched a fit. And surely, some liberals will spin it around, start their "bigot!" talk, yada yada yada (can’t believe I just wrote that), but will, as usual, be wrong. The point is, as one parent in the story points out, that children do not need to be informed of these issues. Hell, schools are already doing enough to rob them of their childhoods, do they really need one more?

This isn’t about Leslie getting a sex change. If he/she wants it, hey, that is his/her right. And it happened. Whatever. The world will go on. Don’t drag the children into this. And I do mean children. Kids in the 11th and 12th grades might understand; elementry kids certainly won’t, and should not have to.

Think about it: Leslie’s friends and family are probably very confused over this. Leslie’s coworkers are certainly confused, too. How would you react? Now put yourself in a kids place.

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5 Responses to “Let’s Tell The Kids About Sex Change”

  1. Stewart says:

    I am part of the parent community at the Duke School. The VAST majority of us suppoort the administration’s position. Here’s a letter I sent to Mr. Gossett:

    “Wow Jim. That’s some reaction.

    But I don’t get it. Sexual reassignment–like it or not, agree with it or not, believe in it or not–has been a fact of modern society for some time. Another fact and cornerstone of our modern democracy, in the marketplace of ideas, is one of academic freedom and liberal thought. When I say “liberal thought,” I mean the process of learning about realities and people we don’t understand, as opposed to pretending they don’t exist, forcing them into the closet or worse: destroying them. Which might be what you are doing to Leslie.

    Teachers and curriculums will often expose our children to points of view that we might not agree with or in some cases (especially in college), are simply factually wrong. But that’s part of learning to become a critical thinker: Nobody’s right about everything, so we need to sort it out for ourselves ultimately.

    I explained Leslie’s situation to my children in a very honest and explicit way, and they were was just fine. I’m not saying you should take that approach. If you would rather tell them that Leslie just feels like a man but is still really a woman, then that’s what you should do. But don’t infringe on Leslie’s rights in the process. Or the larger community’s.

    There is no reason you should have been given weeks or months to prepare for Leslie’s personal decision to become a new person. It’s simply not about you or your children in any significant way. It’s about Leslie.

    I have my own philosophical questions and scientific issues about the real effects of sexual reassignment surgery. And I discussed those with my daughter as well. But I also asked her to respect Leslie’s decision, despite my personal problems with it.

    So Jim, here’s what I don’t get: Why should Leslie have resigned? Because you don’t like his decision? It seems to me that the problem is more yours than Leslie’s, and that you should address it another, more considerate, way. For example, there are plenty of other schools that would be more supportive of your point of view. Just a thought.”

    end of quote

    Webster has put a lot of time and talent into the music program at our school, and she has as much right to retain her posiiton as somone with, say, breast implants. People shouldn’t be forced to find a new job and start a carreer over again just because they’ve made a physical change. Jim Gossett is a loudmouth reactionary AND a lone voice in the wilderness, at least in our enlightened community.

  2. I thank you for posting that, Stewart. I think it is important that the parents be the ones to explain the situation, rather then the school. The kids will certainly understand better in a one on one then in some large setting, where they can ask questions, and not be afraid to ask the questions.

    I certainly agree that Leslie should not resign (if she has, I missed that, and that would be tragic.) While, like you, I do not necessarily agree with the lifestyle, it is not about me, and this is America, where something like this really hurts no one else. As you said, she is a good teacher, and we need to retain good teachers.

    My big point is, of course, more about the parents telling the kids, rather then the school, and no more. I’m not so sure how other kids would react, and it might not be good for some of them, but, best if it is in the parents hands.

    So, again, thank you for standing up for Leslie’s rights, whether you agree with her decision or not. Hopefully, there are more parents like you out there, who, right or wrong, will give Leslie the chance, as well as dignified treatment.

  3. Barry says:

    Where did everyone get the idea that Leslie Webster had sexual reassignment surgery?
    Since when is getting a hysterectomy over the summer
    a sex change? I’ve know Leslie for 17 years and can’t believe that a group of supposedly well educated professionals and journalists would jump to such conclusions without bothering to find out the facts. Sure, Leslie is in the early stages of gender transition and will over the course of several years (and continued medically supervised hormone treatment) look more and more like a male, but the phrase “with the help of medical professionals” from the school’s letter doesn’t mean that a phalloplasty was performed. I mean c’mon guys , there’s no way that Leslie could have even had time to get that done over the summer and make it back to work by August. It is amazing how one man’s inability to carefully read and consider a well thought out and carefully worded letter from the head of school can cause such a rampant spread of misinformation. Have you ever stopped to consider that the school was in some way trying to protect Leslie’s privacy by merely stating that she is in the care of medical professionals and not going into details? You can get a prescription “with the help of medical professionals”, it doesn’t mean you had a penis built over the summer. By the way, only about three percent of female to male transexuals even consider having sexual reassignment surgery. It is extremly expensive ($50,000 and up) and not functional at that. Gender identity is between the ears, not the legs. I hope Leslie sues everyone involved for defamation and libel, and wins.

  4. Hmmm, I did not know all that, Barry. And none of the articles I read went into enough detail to know that Leslie has only just started the treatments. Of course, heck, it really is none of our business, right?

    I still kinda stand by the position that it is really the parents job to educate their kids on what is going on, rather then the school to blurt it out in a large setting.

  5. robert giles says:

    Right on Jim Gossett

    God bless Leslie. I hope you are the new person you were seeking to be. I’m sorry your employer decided to put you center stage and stab the children’s psyche with such a complex personal issue not of the children’s making at such tender ages rather than just the new male appearance as a caring teacher speak for itself.

    The Duke School administration is dead wrong in making it an issue for the kids. Kids reflect how they are treated whether by male or by female. All this whoopla to “support” Leslie undermines the kids’ judgement. If it wasn’t questionable to begin with then Duke School would have done and said nothing.

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