Earlier this month, spies and sleuths walked through the doors of the Central Intelligence Agency’s top-secret headquarters here in the D.C. suburbs for a day of work fighting foreign threats to the United States. Around the corner, on Georgetown Pike, teens shuffled through the doors of classroom No. 1208 at Langley High School for 90 minutes of Spanish II.
“Hola!” the teacher said to them, as they started class.
What the teens got instead of a normal tutorial in Spanish was a surprise lesson on “Identidad,” or “Identity,” with students handed a two-page worksheet created by the University of Michigan’s Program on Intergroup Relations. It included a list of “Social Identity Groups,” not teaching the students about Spanish-language communities, but probing personal, intrusive, and even shaming questions right off a Buzzword Bingo card in identity politics, and asking them to pen their self-identities into a “Social Identity Wheel.”
For these teens as young as 14, they faced the task — in the early morning class of Spanish II on Thursday, Oct. 13 — of identifying their “Social Identity Groups,” including their “Sexual Orientation,” with this wide array of confusing choices: “Lesbian,” “Gay,” “Bisexual,” “Heterosexual,” “Pan-Attractional,” “Attractionality” and, in case those didn’t cover it, “Questioning.”
For their “sex,” these young students had “intersex” among their choices, along with female and male.
For gender, they had “Woman, Man, Transgender, Post-Gender.”
Despite body image being such an issue, especially among teen girls, the students were offered a “social identity group” of “Body Size/ Type,” with “Fat,” “Person of Size,” and “Thin” as examples. One irked Langley mother said, “Really? With all of the body-shaming that girls already feel?”
In the Langley High School community, many parents settled in the nation’s capital to affect U.S. and global policy in high-level posts from the White House, Congress, Defense Department, and even the CIA. These parents work at law firms, media companies, and government contractors, but, like youth everywhere, their children experience the same, complicated lives of teens, with depression, anxiety, and growing pains.
In the oversimplification of societal dynamics that activists have increasingly imposed on children, the Spanish II students also had the task of identifying their “Social Class,” with choices including “Poor,” “Working Class,” “Lower-Middle Class,” “Upper-Middle Class,” “Owning Class,” and “Ruling Class,” another judgment on the young people.
To cap off this exercise, their teacher, Teresa Quigley, instructed them to ponder if they were in a “marginalized group” that is “disenfranchised and exploited” or a “privileged group” with “unearned privileged” status in society. Students looked at each other, confused about what they were doing.
“What does any of this have to do with learning Spanish?” a local mother asked.