Michael Matteo: Evolution and gender dysphoria debate

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Since the creation of the republic, Americans have always had at least two perspectives on numerous issues that led to debates, lawsuits, legislation, protests, and taking sides, so the current issue of what should be taught to students in schools is not a new occurrence.

Today there is a raging debate, which some call a culture war, and Americans have lined up on sides to either oppose or defend issues regarding transgenderism, discussions about what is and is not appropriate to teach to young students, as well as issues about how far parental rights extend in the education of children. Some may think this is a unique issue, but approximately 100 years ago, a similar issue was debated in an American courtroom in a case known as the Scopes Monkey Trial and, even though the issue was different, there are some startling similarities between the two situations.

Scopes was a trial about challenging laws that made teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution illegal, and the combatants were fundamentalist Christians who supported these laws vs those who felt that these laws denied a theory that was strongly supported by scientific evidence  Both situations involved issues of biological evidence, the appropriateness of what should or should not be taught in classrooms, and had strong support for people on both sides of the argument. Oddly enough, John Scopes, the defendant, was solicited by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to get this case to court.

In the Scopes Trial, the end result was that the teacher, John Scopes, was fined $100 and the Tennessee law (The Butler Act) survived until its repeal in 1967.  In 1925, Mississippi passed a similar law to the Butler Act, and 22 other states attempted to pass similar laws, but none passed. The end result, a century later, is that evolution is taught in most schools in America today and even though some may not like it, it’s not the divisive issue that it was a century ago. 

No one was hurt, disfigured, or had their lives altered by the fact that Darwin’s theory of evolution is taught, and those who maintain the creationist view never had to give up their beliefs, and some schools opt to teach intelligent design as part of a compromise, which allows students to investigate the ideas about how human life began on earth. 

In 2014, a PEW Research survey indicated that 98% of scientists believed in the theory of evolution, while approximately 1/3 of Americans did not. Whether or not someone believes in evolution or not is unimportant. What is important are the parallels and ironies in the present debate which also involves what should or should not be taught in schools.

Science is a fact-based discipline rooted in the scientific method, which either proves or disproves theories through the use of experimentation with high degrees of certainty.    Despite all their machinations, sociologists and psychologists (the 2 disciplines that are the staunchest defenders of gender ideology) are social sciences and, unlike natural sciences, their degree of certainty is far more subject to bias than natural science and, at best, most psychological and sociological studies about behavior can identify correlations, which do not identify the kind of cause and effect that a scientist identifies with regard to biological organs; like know when a heart stops beating, the person dies. 

It’s far easier to prove the law of gravity with 100% accuracy than it is to prove that a person can be whatever he or she identifies as. Ben Shapiro, in response to a person’s statement that gender is fluid, made the stellar point that just because a person believes they can fly and jumps out a window, doesn’t mean that their beliefs will invalidate the laws of gravity, which they will sadly realize on the way down. Thus, to base important decisions on subjective social science, especially when it is contradicted by natural science is a losing situation.  

Unlike the evolution debate, the debate about gender has far more serious consequences and life-altering consequences for many people, especially children and teenagers. Whether or not one chooses to believe that man evolved from a lower order of primates, the end result is that adopting such beliefs will not encourage someone to physically alter themselves through hormone therapy or surgery. To my knowledge, no one is undergoing primate reassignment surgery as a way to affirm their faith in Darwinian principles. 

The evolution/creationism debate is merely a healthy difference of opinion that challenges people to think critically and adopt a position that gives them comfort in their beliefs.  However, in the case of gender theories, where small children are told that they can choose their gender or that their source of confusion about a complex world may simply lie in their biology not matching their thoughts. has the potential for severe physiological as well as psychological consequences.

Unlike the debate about the teaching of evolution, the debate about gender threatens to severely alter American society. We have seen it in the area of sports competition, where biological males dominate biological females. Recently, a man who identified as a woman and was put in a women’s correctional facility impregnated two women there. There have been reports of rape in school bathrooms when biological males were allowed to use girls’ restrooms. The number of transgender cases has exploded as schools are promoting theories that have not been validated through the use of the scientific method.

Legislators in different states have sought to remedy what is being taught to children.  Florida passed a law that has been mislabeled “the don’t say gay” law by disingenuous activists who either never read the law or intentionally misrepresented the fact that the law merely prevents teachers from teaching K-3rd graders about sexual issues. Other states have followed suit, and unlike the Butler act in the evolution debate, this law has the intention of protecting children from being indoctrinated by those who would use junk science to manipulate children.  

There will always be differences between Americans and this is the essence of democracy. As we saw a hundred years ago, the teaching of evolution did not warp a generation as claimed by those who, at the time, supported laws that prevented teaching Darwin’s theory. In many cases, I’m sure it opened up opportunities for critical thinking, which is the goal of education. 

Yet, the hiding of gender from parents, teaching children that their thoughts override reality and the insistence on basing lessons about scientifically unproven ideas that could encourage children to make life-altering decisions are unacceptable.  If American society is to evolve, children must be taught the differences between fantasy and reality and what happens in your head does not supersede reality.  


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