Why Mr. Rogers Taught Children the Difference Between



Recently, Chloe Cole, a 19-year-old young woman who was pressured to undergo transgender surgeries, challenged a social media video by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the populist astronomer and science personality. Although a legitimate astrophysicist, Dr. Tyson’s public proclamations and videos are not always from his area of scientific expertise. In fact, they aren’t always scientific.

In this particular video, Tyson asserted, in favor of gender ideology, that “no matter my chromosomes today, I feel 80% female, 20% male. I’m going to put on makeup. I’m gonna do it. Tomorrow, I might feel 80% male.” Seemingly to Dr. Tyson, the ability of people of any gender to feel a particular way and then to put on makeup accordingly proves that “the XX/XY chromosomes are insufficient because when we wake up in the morning, we exaggerate whatever feature we want to portray the gender of our choice.” Dr. Tyson continued in a blatantly non-scientific statement, “What business is it of yours to require that I fulfill your inability to think of gender on a spectrum?”

In her reply, Chloe Cole interspersed video of herself confronting his bizarre claims.

How about we stop confusing basic human biology with cosmetics? Like, what a weird jump. … I don’t wear makeup most days. If I leave the house without makeup on, does that make me like 70% [m]ale?… If it was only truly about aesthetics, nobody would care. It’s my business because you’re using 1950s gender stereotypes to justify an ideology that leads to the sterilization and mastectomies of 15-year-old girls who just don’t fit in, girls like me.

Cole ends her video with,

The idea that people can be percentages of either male or female just further reinforces the fact that biological sex is a binary. There’s only two. There may only be two sexes, but there are an infinite number of personalities. I mean, it really doesn’t take a degree in astrophysics to understand that.

Watching Dr. Tyson’s video and Cole’s response, I was reminded of something from my childhood. Due to the popularity of Superman in the late 1970sMr. Rogers dedicated a week of his daily TV show to helping kids distinguish between what was real and what was make-believe. He was concerned by the reports of children who put on capes and thought they could fly, leaping from staircases or top bunks or balconies and causing serious injuries. He even took his viewers onto the set of the show The Incredible Hulk to show them that the actors involved were indeed only actors.

In other words, he understood that children struggled to distinguish between make-believe and reality. This is exactly what Chloe Cole did earlier this week, only she was instructing an astrophysicist about the harm done to children in the name of “science,” while Mr. Rogers was confronting the harm done to children by cartoons. Cole knows that putting on makeup, a dress, or a muscle shirt cannot transform a man into a woman or a woman into a man. Even worse, she knows that neither did the testosterone she received at age 13 nor the double mastectomy at age 15 make her a boy.

According to Mr. Rogers’ biographer Max King in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Rogers was “angry that it was his medium that was doing this,” i.e., deluding and harming children. What began with his concern about children being misled prompted a new weekly theme for the show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that dealt with tough issues such as death and divorce.

Like Cole, Rogers wasn’t a scientist. But he was committed to helping children discern truth from error, the difference between make-believe and reality, between the cosmetic and one’s identity. He even famously sang a song that clarified that kids could not become whatever or whoever they wanted, that only boys could be daddies, and only girls could be mommies. In fact, he once said, “I’ll tell you what children really need. They need adults who will protect them from the ever-ready molders of their world.”

Those are the kind of adults that children still need. What we all need less of is the sort of thinly disguised, condescending, and anti-scientific rhetoric that molds their identities.

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Dr. Heather Peterson. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.

Publication date: August 8, 2023

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can’t find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

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