U.S. $500K English Teaching Grant Requires Trans Component in Pakistan
A U.S. grant worth $500,000 designed to promote English language instruction and professional development in Pakistan somehow shoehorns the transgender agenda in as an essential program requirement. To win the grant, an applicant must detail a plan to “Strengthen English capacity and professional capability of Pakistani transgender youth and of Afghan teachers, students, and young professionals residing in Pakistan.” An estimated 10,000 Pakistanis identify as transgender, or 0.004% of the population.
Issued by the Regional English Language Office (RELO) in the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy Islamabad, the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) requires grant applicants to “address the ability to implement all three program components,” which are:
“(1) Professional Development for English Language Teachers from Non-Mainstream Institutions;
(2) Professional Development for novice Pakistani English language teachers; and
(3) Professional Development for Transgender Youth and for Afghan Teachers, Students, and Young Professionals Residing in Pakistan.”
With these program components, “this NOFO aims to support the Department of State’s initiatives to promote and strengthen English language teaching and learning in Pakistan.”
As part of the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the RELO exists to advance U.S. interests abroad by engaging with foreign populations to improve their perception of America. Much like community outreach efforts by law enforcement, public diplomacy aims to establish goodwill now, to enhance cooperation and diffuse hostility later.
Thus, RELO’s goal with a grant for English language teaching and professional development is “to improve human capacity by creating a better educated and more skillful workforce.” The NOFO explains, “this program will increase participants’ English language proficiency, employability, and leadership and critical thinking skills, enabling them to become productive members of their community and society.”
But this State Department entity — likely with a blessing from higher up — could not resist injecting left-wing notions of oppressed classes and intersectionality into the implementation of this American interest. The grant notice is littered with references to “marginalized populations,” “underserved, minority communities,” and “marginalized and underserved communities.”
Not that there is a “trans community.” As National Review’s Rich Lowry argues, “It’s manifestly absurd to consider a disparate group of people constituting less than one half of 1 percent of the population [or one hundredth of that, in Pakistan’s case] spread out across the entirety of the country — from diverse walks of life and in different situations regarding their trans status — as a community.”
Yet the U.S. State Department has promised to pay $25,000-$75,000 to the group that devises “the most effective way to reach the greatest number of Pakistani transgender youth [ages 13-25] and Afghan[s] … from diverse locations across Pakistan.”
As if that goal weren’t complicated enough, “the successful grantee shall: have strong links with the Pakistan education community …” The RELO seems to be looking for a Pakistani equivalent to Planned Parenthood or the SPLC, which subtly but surely inject left-wing indoctrination into curriculum peddled in American public schools. This seems to overlook the fundamentally Islamic hue of Pakistan curriculum, where (even apart from the madrasas) textbooks include such sample dialogues as a mother chiding her son for skipping his daily prayers to Allah.
With this grant, the RELO intends to “further the U.S. Mission to Pakistan’s following public diplomacy goals”:
“1. Strengthen people-to-people ties between the United States and Pakistan through shared information, experiences, exchanges, and/or expertise.
2. Strengthen civil society and local organizations to build long-term, self-sustaining relationships and institutional linkages between U.S. and Pakistani organizations, including capacity building for Pakistani organizations.
3. Promote community cohesion through positive messages and inclusive perspectives that increase social tolerance and counter extremist narratives.”
It’s not difficult to see how offering professional development to English language teachers might strengthen interpersonal relationships and, through their students, strengthen civil society. What is far less obvious is how singling out the uber-minority of Pakistanis who identify as transgender for this special privilege will “promote community cohesion,” “increase social tolerance,” or “counter extremist narratives.”
Just consider the chain of events, beginning with the (arguable) assumption that Pakistanis who identify as transgender do not cohere to the larger community because of their gender identity and social intolerance. In drops this Western favoritism, singling them out for professional development training worth thousands of dollars, which is not available to their family and neighbors. This will magnify their differences from the community, not aid in cohesion. This will stoke resentment, not promote tolerance. By excluding the larger society from participation, the structure of this grant quarantines the very “positive messages and inclusive perspectives” they hope to disseminate.
The point is, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (its official name) is not the United States of America, so what works in one will not necessarily work in the other. While identifying as transgender in Pakistan has technically been legal since 2018, it continues to face widespread opposition from the thoroughly Islamic culture, in contrast with the far more secular West.
As to the grant’s power to “counter extremist narratives,” it plays straight into their stereotypes. The dominant extremist narratives in Pakistan are like unto the ideologies of such groups as the Taliban or ISIS; they counsel violence against those who violate a strict interpretation of Islamic law. They oppose interference of Western powers, like the United States, because they view them as exporting what they believe to be immorality, like homosexuality and transgenderism, into their Islamic society. It’s unclear how this grant project will “counter extremist narratives” by confirming them.
The Biden State Department in 2022 announced pro-transgender grants in Kyrgyzstan and India ($30,000 and $50,000 respectively). And in January 2023 it announced awards up to $1.5 million to promote LGBT communities overseas through the Global Equity Fund.
“I don’t know what the good of that is going to be,” said Joseph Backholm, FRC’s senior fellow for Strategic Engagement and Biblical Worldview, of the Pakistan grant, “but I think it’s an indication of where the priorities of this administration are.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.