THE AUTHOR is a professor of exercise science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His opinions do not represent any official position of UNK.
Many of the Nebraska Department of Education’s proposed health education standards seem to be focused on an ideological agenda. Specifically, the proposed standard HE.5.7.3.e, which states: “Explain the significance of the physical changes in puberty and the potential role of hormone blockers on young people who identify as transgender.” The first nine words of this statement are appropriate for fifth-grade health education. However, the remaining 14 words are egregiously incompatible with the prudent health education of fifth-grade students.
The use of puberty blockers in children has not been rigorously researched nor has it been approved by the FDA. A recent review by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in England concludes that research on the use of puberty blockers in children is “subject to bias and confounding,” is limited by small numbers of subjects with poor research control, and the use of puberty blockers to improve the mental health issues associated with gender dysphoria is of “very low certainty.”
Due to the possible permanent and negative side effects of puberty blockers, and the poor research on these drugs, the High Court in Great Britain has decreed that children under age 16 cannot reasonably give informed consent to receive puberty blockers. Furthermore, the Karolinska Hospital in Sweden (a premier medical facility) has halted the prescription of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children under age 16 except in clinical trials. The low certainty of research regarding the use of puberty blockers is unlikely to be to be emphasized as part of the curriculum used to meet proposed standard HE.5.7.3.e.