Fact Check-Harvard course teaches sex development in children, not gender identity or sexual orientation

by Reuters
Thursday, 16 March 2023 09:28 GMT

A general view of the Harvard Medical School in the Longwood Medical Area in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 15, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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Social media posts suggesting that a Harvard Medical School course teaches how to identify LGBTQ+ babies surfaced in January

A Harvard Medical School course teaches about physical variations in sex development, such as chromosomal or anatomic variations, not about gender identity or sexual orientation in newborns and infants, a spokesperson told Reuters.

Social media posts suggesting otherwise (here), (bit.ly/3mGLO2P) include a screenshot of a blog post (bit.ly/3L4Wwup) with the headline: “Harvard Medical School offers course in OBGYN, pediatrics to identify LGBTQIA+ newborns and ‘infants.’”

The Jan. 11 post, on a blog named Sandra Rose (here), says, without presenting evidence, that doctors taking this course “will learn how to identify LGBTQIA+ babies” and that “gender affirmation surgeries will also be performed on children.”

The blog mentions a Jan. 10 article (bit.ly/41RaQwx) on the Daily Mail website that does not make these claims about the course but does discuss gender-affirming care for youth at a Harvard-affiliated hospital.

Dennis Nealon, a Harvard Medical School spokesperson, told Reuters via email the claims in the Sandra Rose blog are false.

“The portion of the course that is dedicated to infants does not discuss sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said. “It focuses strictly on variations in sex development - chromosomal, gonadal and anatomic. These variations arise in-utero, are present at birth and pertain to physical characteristics.”

He also said that “there are no gender-affirmation surgeries being performed on children at Harvard-affiliated hospitals.”

A statement released by Harvard Medical School on Jan. 11 (here) and the course description (bit.ly/3JzOmZX) make no mention of identifying babies as members of the LGBT+ community or performing gender-affirmation surgeries on children.

Sandra Rose did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment via the website’s contact page.

Reuters has previously debunked a claim published by Sandrarose.com (here). The website’s “About” page is blank (bit.ly/3YFKXgf).


False. The Harvard Medical School course teaches sex development in newborns, not how to identify gender-identity or sexuality in infants.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work (here) . 

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