News Post

Regarding activities about social issues

Jake the Admin

May 2, 2023

This has become the most disputed issue on the site recently, so I thought that I need to step in and clarify what the site's policies are.

To give some background, an activity was posted last week regarding the modern issue of gender identity. The larger topic of gender identity and how it relates to language has become one of the most heated and debated topics in the English-speaking world. Like other modern issues, I think the nature of advertising-based media has fostered intense polarization and made the debate difficult to engage in without the participants getting extremely angry.

I never intended ALTopedia to be the place where people debate this issue, but I suppose it was eventually going to come to the site at some point.

The activity represents a viewpoint that is generally not represented often in younger, education-related online spaces in that it disagrees with the concept of gender identities. I discussed the activity with the user and they're sincere in their beliefs, which they believe aren't yet represented in the material that has already been posted to the site. From their perspective, they disagree with the existing activities on the site regarding gender identity and pronouns and wanted to post an activity that engaged in the debate from their perspective.

I should probably mention here that I see a lot of comments in the moderation queue on pronoun-related activities that are extremely critical of them, but I haven't let any through yet because they don't contain positive or productive feedback, which is the rule that I've set for comments. But I think it's safe to say that there's a range of opinion on this issue among the users of the site.

This new activity has attracted a lot of comments, both positive and negative, but I haven't let most of them through since they're either incendiary or dismissive in a way that I wouldn't allow on any other activity.

I'll be upfront and say that I don't plan on removing this activity, because:

  • I don't exercise editorial control over users' activities, and I don't give that editorial control to anyone else. If people thought that their activities could be modified in ways that they didn't agree with, there wouldn't be nearly as much material on the site as there is now. It's one thing to post something and have someone else make their own version of it, but altering or removing an original activity is like putting words in someone's mouth, and nobody's happy with that.
  • I cannot claim that the site is neutral on the issue if I only allow one side of it to be presented.
  • It's always been a tenet of the site that nobody is required to use an activity. I'm sure everyone who's used the site has come across activities that they wouldn't use, but there are almost 3000 activities now, so there are almost certainly other options.
  • My email discussion with the user indicated that they were sincere and felt like it was important to be able to speak their mind on this issue. They pointed out that other users had already been doing the same with their activities.

Removing it because of the volume of negative comments, or because it stands on the opposite side of other peoples' beliefs on this issue would set a precedent that I don't think the site could ever recover from. If I did it this time, it would become a cudgel for other people to wield on this issue or other issues, and it would lead to endless fighting.

I'm going to draft up new guidelines and rules for comments and activity submission soon. My intent isn't to retroactively apply new rules or prevent similar activities from being posted in the future, but I suppose that the size of the site now will necessitate clearer guidelines on what's acceptable and what isn't. I'll also build in functionality to freeze comments on an activity that is attracting too many contentious comments.

There's no decision here that will make everyone happy, but I'm trying to operate the site in a way that gives teachers the most latitude in what they can use in their classes.

I'm using the new comments freeze feature (which still needs a little more work) to freeze comments on this post and on the activity, since they've turned into people just arguing with each other. I'll build more features like this as they become necessary, as unfortunate a use of my time as it is.

  1. Milamber25 May 3, 2023

    I agree that when it comes to controversial topics such as this, our job as ALTs is not to push our own views upon students. Thus, I think basedalt is right about some of the other materials hosted on this site. To give an example, "non-binary identity" is a complicated concept that remains controversial, even in the open minded west. In Japan, lecturing about such a topic seems like an inappropriate attempt to push a western concept onto young kids. Certainly none of my schools would tolerate i

  2. aimeeyuri4 May 3, 2023

    Just because the LGBTQ community is small doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be represented. Also, the fact that Gordy1 said “LGB” in a space where nobody will get confused or harmed by its correct term (LGBT/LGBTQ) shows that they is discriminating against those in the Transgender community. I have no plans to give a lesson on the history of pronouns in my classes, but I wouldn’t leave out information and break the MEXT rules (LGB discriminates against trans students) just because I don’t agree with it.

  3. marumaru May 3, 2023

    @gordy1 My comment was in response to you in both the presentation and in later comments justifying your deliberate exclusion of transgender people from the conversation as too confusing.

  4. marumaru May 3, 2023

    @basedalt The point I think I and others are making is that Japan, like anywhere in the world, is capable of holding a great diversity of opinions. This is not as black and white as you seem to be painting it. Thank you for telling me about your many bigoted Japanese friends.

    Regardless of what you think, trans exclusion does not comply with the standards that the Japanese government is holding us foreigners to. Uonuma Robert has posted the MEXT link--please inform yourself, it's your job.

  5. wanifan May 3, 2023

    I think it's very obvious that the activity in question was not made in good faith and was made solely to stir up people.
    The fact remains that as ALTs we may have trans and GNC students (whether they are out or not) and stuff like this just makes the school environment as a whole less safe and accepting for them.

  6. gordy1 May 3, 2023

    @UonumaRobert You are making it seem like my presentation will oppress students when in reality, where we live, this is a small % of students. We teach about the English language and I don't believe I need to do it with a specific caveat for this group. These are kids who are starting to go through puberty and they don't need to be introduced to gender theory. I think basedalt is eluding to the fact that Japan won't be shifting their views to inclusion as far as the west anytime soon & thats ok

  7. UonumaRobert May 3, 2023

    @gordy1 the guideline sent out to schools by the ministry included the results of a survey with around 660 respondents. Of those about 60% stated they were keeping their trans or non-binary feelings of identity a secret from family and peers. The guidelines also concluded that involvement in sports matching their gender identity is a good for this kids. So they won’t feel isolated and won’t do what some desperate kids end up doing when they feel too cut off. You don’t know for sure what the…

  8. basedalt May 3, 2023

    Interesting how you put quotation marks Robert but that actually isn't what I said at all. Japan isn't a tolerant country in a lot of ways, that could be good in ways and bad in other ways. I'm not saying this country is perfect but I like it the way it is and it is not my place to force change upon them. Then continuing to put words in my mouth, my point was if you like how Japan is then you shouldn't feel the need to force them to change otherwise I don't really know why you'd want to be here.

  9. UonumaRobert May 3, 2023

    Kids in your classrooms are going through. Many students keep things a secret and yes the numbers are small but they could be there. It seems if you are actually using that presentation in class you are doing so because you think your gender politics being heard is more important than student safety. So yeah, I fully disagree with you and the current guidelines do as well. Oppressing is a good choice of word though gordy1

  10. basedalt May 3, 2023

    @marumaru I didn't say they were my friends it has been pretty much anyone that I've met here. You do realize I live here too right? LGBT acceptance here is small, I'm sorry but that's the way it is. I'm not saying I think that's such a great thing. There might be some more open minded people but the majority of people are not on this issue. I'm well informed already I'm not breaking any guidelines.

  11. gordy1 May 3, 2023

    Robert - kids being in the closet has nothing to do with how pronouns are normally used and I gave an example of how they can be used differently.
    Wanifan - not made in good faith is just code for I don't agree with your POV. As I have stated previously, I made this resource for people who wanted to teach closer to societal norms. If ALTs can do lessons and boards for They/them pronouns and explain non-binary. Why cant there be a simple lesson on how pronouns are normally used?

  12. basedalt May 3, 2023

    Well Robert the entirety of Japan disagrees with you and obviously we all do as well. If you are so against this presentation being against the guidelines then you should be just as angry about the infographic on this website that teaches the false gender theory. But that would mean being consistent and it seems to me you just want to call on authority to shutdown dissenting views.

  13. marumaru May 3, 2023

    @gordy1 Why is it acceptable to harm a small number of students?

  14. basedalt May 3, 2023

    @marumaru we are on the side of protecting students from radical liberal indoctrination that is far more damaging, nothing of what we have said would be harmful to the maybe 3 or so trans student that exist across Japan. Those suffering with confusion about their gender in Japan are not going to be harmed by presenting basic biological reality and these students can seek the help they need outside of class.

  15. gordy1 May 3, 2023

    marumaru - how is it harming them? If anything this is actually preparing them for what life will be in society. They will be a minority and it's something they will have to accept. So if sitting through an English lesson thats teaching how pronouns are normally used is harmful then they will have a hard time acclimating to society as an adult. And as previously stated I gave examples of how pronouns are used differently.

  16. UonumaRobert May 3, 2023

    @basedalt please source the ‘entirety of Japan and everybody here’ disagreeing with me. It’s important to include sources especially for such sweeping charges.
    @gordy1 your third slide makes a very strong distinction between as you put it BOYS sports and GIRLS sports and why you believe that distinction is important. The document I keep referring back to recommends allowing students to join sports clubs based on their gender identity as a way to keep them safely in school.

  17. gordy1 May 3, 2023

    Robert - the schools mostly have coed club activities so Idk what you mean about keeping them safe in school. In the world there are 2 categories for sports and it's a factual example that binary exists within our race. Men are stronger than women and thats why I posted world records. If this was not the case you would be able to reference multiple examples of CIS women out performing men. If the students can watch the olympics and World Cup why cant they learn that there are 2 categories?

  18. Jake the Admin May 4, 2023

    I'm closing the comment section on this post now because it's just devolved into people arguing past each other.

  • The comment section is closed.