On Monday, the Rocklin school board in Sacramento, Calif. voted unanimously to retain the policies allowing a kindergarten teacher to read a transgender book in class, but adopted a provision that parents must be notified of potentially controversial subject matter. Some parents feared that the notification provision would not be binding, however.
“I am concerned,” Wendy Sickler, a parent of two children at Rocklin Gateway Academy, said at the school board meeting. “I have a 4-year-old, and he would be starting kindergarten next year. My concern is that a book that was read outside the curriculum, and it was a sensitive topic, and the parents weren’t notified.”
Sickler said the notification requirement is insufficient to ensure parents will be forewarned about such controversial topics being introduced to kindergarten kids. “I do believe the proposal in the board packet is loose. It says they will endeavor to notify,” the mother said. “I do not think that is strong, and I don’t think it makes staff accountable. If that is the policy that is in place, I will not support that.”
This concerned mother said she is not opposed to a transgender child being in the classroom. “I know that our kids are going to be exposed to different lifestyles, and that to me reinforces that they should notify parents,” she argued.
The controversy started when a boy in kindergarten came to class dressed as a boy, left for a few minutes, and then returned as a girl, at Rocklin Academy, a charter school. This reportedly traumatized five-year-old children, CBS News reported. The teacher also read I am Jazz, a children’s book on transgender issues based on the struggles of real-life transgender child Jazz Jennings.
“My daughter came home crying and shaking, so afraid she could turn into a boy,” one parent said. Another parent insisted, “I want [my daughter] to hear from me as a parent what her gender identity means to her and our family, not from a book that may be controversial.”
“These parents feel betrayed by the school district that they were not notified,” Karen England, executive director at the Capital Resource Institute, told CBS News.
Another transgender controversy happened at Rocklin last month, when a girl was sent to the principal’s office for offending a transgender person. The innocent little girl referred to a biological boy who had “transitioned” into a girl by the name he had while he was in her class the year before. She did not even know he had “transitioned,” and she was punished for it, anyway.
The school board reinforced these pro-transgender policies on Monday, in front of an audience of about 500, The Sacramento Bee reported. The policies included affirming the district’s literature selection policies and accommodating students who aren’t comfortable using a particular bathroom.
The board denied a “model parental rights” proposal, but forward by Karen England, which would have allowed parents to review controversial LGBT materials on sex and family, and to remove their children from such classes. The board did offer upset parents the concession that schools must notify them if a controversial topic will be discussed in class.
England and many parents warned that the administration’s plan would give schools and teachers too much leeway to decide what counts as controversial.
Both cheers and boos met England when she spoke at the podium. She accused the jeerers of being bullies, at which point the crowd laughed at her. Some protesters counted down the clock as England’s time to speak dwindled.
But parents on England’s side cheered as she finished her remarks.
LGBT activist Beryl Mayne arrived with fellow activists holding signs reading, “Trans Rights are Human Rights,” “Trans Kids Have Courage,” and “Love and Let Love.”
“It’s important tonight to support transgender children. It’s not about me. It’s about transgender children,” Mayne told The Sacramento Bee. “I’m a little bit disappointed because I thought our movement in accepting gay, lesbian and transgender children was moving forward. We make two steps forward and we go back a step. It’s still a problem with accepting gays, lesbians and transgender.”
This push for LGBT teaching in even the youngest classes, premised on acceptance for some children while ignoring kids who may not grasp the concept of transgenderism, has very powerful allies. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which brands mainstream nonprofits “hate groups” for disagreeing with their liberal ideology, has been pushing transgender ideology in schools via its “Teaching Tolerance” program.
As if the very notion of transgenderism weren’t confusing enough for young children, the SPLC’s “Teaching Tolerance” program pushes spectrum-based models to “make room for anyone whose experiences do not narrowly fit into binary choices such as man/woman, feminine/masculine or straight/gay.”
As in the case of Rocklin Academy, “Teaching Tolerance” aims to provide teachers with materials for “children from kindergarten through high school.” The SPLC program boasts an outreach to more than 500,000 educators across the country.
In recent months, the SPLC has received large contributions from big influential companies like J.P. Morgan ($500,000 to the SPLC) and Apple ($1 million, with other benefits, to the organization). Companies like Lyft and MGM Resorts have also partnered with the group, and many companies match employee contributions. Pfizer, Bank of America, and Newman’s Own have each contributed over $8,900 to the SPLC in recent years.
The SPLC puts out a list of “hate groups” which has gained enormous traction, leading to the blacklisting of any groups on the list. At the end of August, Vanco Payments withdrew its service from the Ruth Institute. In June, the charity navigation website GuideStar adopted the SPLC “hate group” list. In December, D. James Kennedy Ministries was denied access to Amazon’s charity connection service, Amazon Smile.
Last month, Google officially announced that it was partnering with the SPLC and ProPublica to launch the Documenting Hate News Index. When Google’s senior software engineer, James Damore, wrote a memo attacking Google for fostering an “intellectual echo chamber,” he was fired. This is the kind of bubble the SPLC is contributing to.
Worse, just this week, the SPLC blamed Google and Facebook for the radicalization of white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof, who killed nine members of a black church in 2015. The SPLC pushed for more Internet censorship, apparently oblivious to the fact that its own “hate list” inspired a terrorist attack in 2012. In other words, the SPLC is so established in its power that it feels comfortable calling for the suppression of other voices, even as it is itself guilty of inspiring terrorism.
But the SPLC isn’t the only large influential Left-wing organization promoting transgender education in schools. This summer, Planned Parenthood released a preschool guidance, suggesting parents tell their 4-year-old children that “genitals don’t make you a boy or a girl.”
The U.S. is not the only country facing the clash of transgender education and parental rights. In Britain, a Christian family filed a lawsuit against the Church of England after a school allowed a boy to go back and forth, appearing dressed as a girl some days and as a boy other days.
Finally, while the Rocklin school board at least nominally required teachers and schools to notify parents before any controversial teachings, Minnesota’s Nova Classical Academy actually adopted a policy swearing not to notify parents before any transgender education.
The nationally-ranked K-12 school “will not adopt any gender policy that allows parents to opt out of the requirements in the NP-601 Gender Inclusion Policy based on religious or conscience objections,” read a summary of a legal settlement established last month. Further, “Nova will not call parents’ or guardians’ attention to the policy or law allowing them to opt out of specific instruction regarding gender inclusion.”
Karen England’s parental rights proposal seems very attractive when faced with this kind of a settlement. Transgenderism is confusing to children, and it is arguably both unscientific and pseudo-religious. Parents have a right to know what their children are learning, especially when it comes to deep questions of identity usually reserved for religion.
Unfortunately for Rocklin parents, it seems LGBT activists shouted down any possibility for parental rights proposals. Instead, schools will be nominally required to notify parents, but only so long as they think the material to be presented is controversial. In light of the LGBT movement’s power and success over Nova Classical Academy, it seems parents are right to be concerned.