Fishes and Lizards and Snakes, Oh My!

Kids like critters.  Even the ones that say they don’t like them or who are scared of them are generally fascinated by them, if they can view them from an appropriate distance.  So, of course, they make for great lessons — lessons the students won’t soon forget.  After a day with non-human guests in the classroom, kids will rush home to breathlessly tell their parents that a lizard’s tail can grow back or that snakes lay eggs like a chicken.  So why would anyone get upset about a lesson featuring geckos and clownfish?

It turns out the animals were part of gender diversity training — the geckos are parthenogenic (all female) and the clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites (the start out as male, then become females).  Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative “legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties,” has a problem with that.  According to attorney Kevin Snider, “this instruction does not represent the values of the majority of families in Oakland.”

I’m not so sure he’s right about the “majority” part — the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the school district says “only a few parents said they planned to keep their children home.”  Still, whatever values the students and their families might have, it doesn’t — and shouldn’t — affect facts.  The facts are simple: the geckos are all female and the clownfish change gender.  Furthermore, people do the same thing.  Wishing it weren’t true won’t make it so and it’s patently unfair to try to prevent kids from learning that.

Of course, the whole point of this lesson, says Principal Sara Stone, was to give parents what they wanted: “a warm, welcoming, safe and caring environment for all children.”  Apparently, Pacific Justice Institute and the few parents they represent only want that for the kids they deem to be acceptable — which isn’t very welcoming or safe for anyone.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Fishes and Lizards and Snakes, Oh My!”

  1. Mary says:

    Your article says that “….the geckos are all female and the clownfish change gender. Furthermore, people do the same thing.” People do the same thing – excuse me?? I’m going to have to ask for some sort of explanation on that one…

  2. Safari Dad says:

    Mary, you’re right… that could certainly have used a tad more editing. What I meant to say was that the geckos have same-sex relationships and the clownfish change gender and people do the same. It’s all natural.

  3. Mary says:

    Sorry, Safari Dad, but a human can not change their gender – it just ain’t possible. You are either born with XX chromosomes, or XY chromosomes. That & that alone is what determines if you are male or female, not surgery or hormone therapy. And ain’t nothing gonna change that.

Leave a Reply