To Understand Local School Board Gender Proclamations, Follow John Money

In June of this year, Polk County School District—one of the largest in Florida—used its School Board meeting to make a proclamation of LGBTQ pride. The proclamation declared in part that “gender identity” and “gender expression” were an “innate status” of its over 110,000 students in attendance. Taxpayers of the conservative Polk County not interested in ideological declarations over their children were lectured on how they were part of a “global community” that expected such normative claims. As a graduate of this school district, it was surreal to see my local school board nonchalantly embracing loaded rhetoric derived from crank theorists with horrific experimental records and pro-pedophilia views—specifically John Money, the founder of gender identity theory.

That a rural conservative Florida school district would feel the need to tell parents of children ranging from preschool and up that trans gender identity is an innate status shows how ignorant public school bureaucracies have become. While I was in university in 2009 learning about the brutal gender identity experiments John Money performed on young children to derive his “gender identity” theory, the Polk County School Board bureaucrats expressed no interest in bringing his extremist ideas into the school district.

At that time, these ideas were still confined to the domain of university courses: future foot soldiers in public school ideological imposition had not received their mimetic social cues yet. In 2022, School Board members and bureaucrats only parrot ideas Money pioneered out of a naive desire to imitate the fashionable ideas of elitist, moneyed cultural enclaves far away from places like Polk County. Social engineering of children may be pathetic to average families but it comes with plenty of financial incentives and social currency in bureaucracies always in search of the next big thing around which to manufacture moralizing power plays. It is important that parents and second-hand peddlers in extreme ideas like school officials be made cognizant of their origins.

John Money was a sexologist and psychologist at John Hopkins University in the 1950s and 60s. He believed that gender was primarily constructed by society, separate from the biological sex with which one is born. In an infamous case experiment, he convinced the parents of a boy named David Reimer to demonstrate his hypothesis. The boy had suffered from a botched circumcision and Money thought he would be a great candidate to prove the fluidity of gender. The boy had a twin who would serve as a control. Money unethically convinced the boy's parents to allow John Hopkins Hospital to surgically remove his testes and construct a crude imitation of female genitalia. He was then put on hormone therapy, given a new name, and dressed as a girl.

In clinical visits with Money and colleagues, David Reimer and his twin brother were forced to engage in sexual positions and motions specific to their gender. They were told to inspect each other's pubic areas and were angrily reprimanded by Money if they objected. Money's aggression to them was in sharp contrast to his professional demeanor in front of Reimer's parents. Despite a full-fledged effort to socially engineer his identity as a girl, Reimer always felt inside that he was a boy. He eventually discovered the truth and sought to reverse the mutilations and hormonal abuses forced on him as a child. However, the trauma of Money's experiments eventually overwhelmed his will to live and he committed suicide as an adult. His twin brother killed himself as well.

Money held views that seemed to normalize pedophilia, saying, “If I were to see the case of a boy aged ten or eleven who's intensely erotically attracted toward a man in his twenties or thirties, if the relationship is totally mutual, and the bonding is genuinely totally mutual... then I would not call it pathological in any way.” (Interview: John Money. PAIDIKA: The Journal of Paedophilia, Spring1991, vol.2, no.3, p.5.)

Money is still heralded as the founder of gender identity theory. That is why I learned of his work as foundational in the field in my university social science classes. His legacy is celebrated by another pillar of the gender identity movement—the Kinsey Institute—which gives out research fellowships in his name. The institute is named after sexologist Alfred Kinsey whose work on sexuality was pivotal to the sexual revolution started in the 1960s. Dr. Kinsey encouraged an atmosphere of sexual experimentation among his staffers and students, often filming activities in his house. His book Sexual Behavior and the Human Male featured clinically derived charts measuring the average time to reach climax of children as young as 5 months old. Dr. Kinsey was said to have been in correspondence with pedophiles, advocating they continue their acts for the sake of scientific research. Dr. Fritz von Balluseck, a Nazi officer, was one such child abuser who would chronicle his victim's reactions to his assaults for Kinsey's research. With the financial support of powerful groups like the Rockefeller Foundation, Kinsey became a rock star and influenced generations of sexology work and activism.

Finally, Michel Foucault, the French post-structuralist, must be introduced in analyzing the origins of the language used in Polk County School District's proclamation. Foucault was one of the founders of queer theory and saw sexuality as an effect of the power structures in society. His work on deconstructing sexuality through postmodern politics continues to shape the discourse of academia which trickles down into policy in local school boards paid for by parents. In the introduction of his The History of Sexuality, Vol 1, Foucault states, “It is the agency of sex that we must break away from, if we aim – through a tactical reversal of the various mechanisms of sexuality – to counter the grips of power with the claims of bodies, pleasures, and knowledges, in their multiplicity and their possibility of resistance.”

Foucault sought to overthrow traditional sexual norms—derived of a conspiratorial patriarchy—through his ideas of social construction. It informed his activism: in 1977, he petitioned the French parliament to decriminalize sexual relations with children under the age of 15. He was later accused by a contemporary of evidence of serial child rapes of boys in Tunisia. His ideas' allure to wealthy elites continue to privilege his legacy from further scrutiny on the matter.

As a radical leftist, Foucault taught that claims that biological sex determined gender identity were tools of power that could be resisted. This idea animates the tactic employed by the Polk County School Board's proclamation that couched their political power move as a plea to end bullying. As a public entity representing the education of children as young as 4 years old, Polk's statement declared that LGBTQ students “still face ongoing discrimination based on their innate status.” Such manipulative language hijacks the Christian cultural inheritance of Polk constituents to care for the outcast and “the least of these” to assert a radical political stance—gender identity theory—built on the work of bigoted extremists like Money, Foucault, and Kinsey.

No decent parent wants children to be bullied. School officials gaslight the public by reframing “discrimination” to mean disagreeing with the notion that a minor's gender identity is fluid and trans is one such “innate status” for them to consider. If a family wants to raise their children in imitation of Dr. John Money's experiments, that is a matter beyond the jurisdiction of a local school board. Schools' assigned task is to educate children, not to declare fringe gender experimental psychology as normative for children under their care.

The conceit of such pledges is that children get bullied and discriminated against for all sorts of arbitrary markers of difference—cheap shoes, rural accents, shortness, abstinence, dental issues, clothing, political views—identity markers with much less ubiquitous pop culture and political support. It does not follow that Money's gender identity theory must be endorsed by a district because some children whose parents raise them in that category have been treated unfairly by peers.

Ironically, much of the antisocial behaviors that lead to bullying in public schools are a result of the destruction of families unleashed by the aforementioned theorists. The dehumanizing, cookie cutter factory approach to education employed by many school bureaucracies also intensifies these cruel behaviors. We can address bullying by reining in arrogantly ignorant school bureaucracies, not being hoodwinked by gender identity proclamations. Mindlessly mouthing loaded language pioneered by horrific abusers from the past like Money, Foucault, and Kinsey is a recipe for disaster for children.

Powerful privileged interests may seek to reshape students in local communities across this country, but we must never forget the voices of victims of gender identity theory like David Reimer.

Image: Adaptation of: Forleo e moglie con John Money by Luca Borghi is licensed under Creative Commons