Deb Spratt kicked off the remarks by reading a statement from an elementary teacher claiming that district employees were required to attend a “Creating Gender-Inclusive Schools” training earlier this year. “We were instructed to discuss our definition of gender,” wrote the teacher. “I immediately felt uncomfortable because I had a feeling that if I gave the definition of gender that I agree with I would be labeled as judgmental” and there would not be enough time to “explain further that I care about everyone, even if I disagree with their belief system.”
According to the teacher’s statement, the definition of gender provided to district employees was that “gender is determined by time and space” and that “because of white supremacy, gender expansiveness has been suppressed.” The presenter also referenced a Google form that students could complete to indicate the pronouns and name they want to be called at school and the pronouns and name to use with their parents, according to the teacher’s statement. “Is this allowed without parents’ knowledge? Regardless, is it now our job to keep secrets?”
“We do not agree with the teachings of the LGBTQIA+ in schools,” said Abdifatah Ali, who stated he was speaking on behalf of the Brooklyn Park Islamic Center and the Muslims in the community. “If you open the door for this to be taught in school, what happens later is you allow for more things to come,” such as then having to open the door for someone to also “talk about their sexual orientation regarding incest, bestiality, or anything else. As an adult, you are allowed to practice whatever it is, but we are talking about children.”
Adrian Jackson, another representative of the Muslim community, stated that the priorities of the district and school board through this resolution are “putting us as Muslims, parents, in the community in a tough spot.” … “Leave the school system a neutral spot for kids to learn about math, science, reading, but not about sexual orientation, leave that to the parents. … I’m not in favor of this agenda that is being pushed.”
Erica Foster, a resident and mother of students in the district, stated that she didn’t “expect the school system to reflect or teach my personal beliefs, but I do expect school to be a neutral, safe place for my kids and those of other backgrounds to learn. The resolution has jeopardized that environment in our schools.”
Pride month should come with an opt-out opportunity similar to what is given for sexual education. The acronym itself stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and others. The majority of those terms are tied to sexual attraction preferences, which means this is a sexuality topic and should be left out of school curriculum pedagogy. If you integrate this content into every day lessons, you will be infringing on the rights of students and families that disagree. … Raising the [Pride] flag shows a preference for one worldview over others. I would ask that you not raise it at all, so that schools remain a neutral place. But if we must fly the Pride flag, I propose that the school district add the image of a heterosexual family to the flag in order to be truly inclusive of all sexual identities. … The school district has no responsibility to shape the sexuality or sexual morality or gender of my children. School board and district staff, stay in your lane. Return to a focus on academic excellence. Do not force sexual conversations on my children.
Another parent concluded her public comments by asking, “Is the school board willing to involve parents in these far-reaching decisions or are you going to continue planning to exclude us?”
During a May school board meeting, a parent read excerpts from the book Call Me Max that was alleged to be available to 1st graders in the district. The book is described as a children’s book and an “age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender.” According to the book: “When a baby is born, a grown-up says ‘it’s a boy’ or ‘it’s a girl.’ … When a baby grows up to be transgender, it means that the grown-up who said they were a boy or a girl made a mistake.”
According to CITC, a spokesperson for the district stated that Call Me Max is not available in any of the district’s libraries, but it is “included in kindergarten classrooms as an option during independent reading time.”
A recent national poll of more than 5,000 Americans found that only seven percent of respondents believe it is suitable for early elementary schools to teach the concept of non-binary identity. Similarly, eight percent of respondents think it is appropriate to teach the concept of transgender identity in early elementary.