If you believe that there are two genders, you cannot be a teacher in the state of New York, as one teaching student by the name of Owen Stevens discovered. Mr. Stevens was suspended by the state university from his teaching certification program for posting on Instagram that he believes that “a man is a man, and a woman is a woman.” This, they claim, means that he cannot create an environment that is inclusive of all students. His suspension will continue until he completes a reeducation program and renounces his earlier statements. The Dean of the college claims that future teachers are required to support all aspects of homosexuality and gender identity.
To his credit, Mr. Stevens is refusing to do so. The Dean told Stevens that his scientific stance on biology is “in conflict” with the state’s Dignity for All Students Act. A SUNY Geneseo spokeswoman said that the school does not believe that it is infringing on any student’s right to free speech.
“Although we cannot comment on any particular student, SUNY Geneseo respects every student’s right to freedom of speech and expression,” the spokeswoman said. “By choosing to enter into certain professional fields, students agree to abide by the professional standards of their chosen field. At times, these professional standards dictate that students act and behave in certain ways that may differ from their personal predilections.”
Up until this school year, I taught Biology. When we reached the section on human genetics and reproduction, I would talk about how the X and Y chromosomes determined if a person was a male or a female. I would always get the question about transgender. My statement was like this: “When you get down to basics, the Y chromosome has one job: it tells the developing fetus to grow a penis, and tells it to develop male secondary sex and gender characteristics. So a person either has a Y chromosome and a penis, or they don’t. Male or female, that’s it. Anything else is not supported by biology and would fall into the realm of psychology.”
Every once in awhile, a student would reply with: “What about those born with intersex characteristics, where they have both sets of genitals?” To which I would reply, “That is a birth defect, an abnormality in fetal development. When children are born without arms, we do not declare them to be snakes, likewise, a child born with incomplete dual genitalia are abnormal. They do not define the rest of human development. Such individuals are less than one in a thousand live births, and do not excuse people with normal genitalia for the delusional belief that they can select their own biology, even when their DNA plainly states otherwise. That is a psychological problem, not a biological one.”
That statement would mean that I am not qualified to teach in New York.