A California charter school embroiled in controversy about a lesson to kindergarteners on transgenderism is not backing down. On Sept. 18, the Sacramento-area school board rejected a proposal by parents to allow children to opt-out of lessons on gender identity.
The proposal came after a kindergarten teacher at Rocklin Academy Gateway in June reintroduced a boy in the class as a transgender girl without parental notification. After efforts by the administration to brush away the incident, concerned parents spoke out to the school board in August, insisting they put the issue on the agenda for the September meeting.
Administrators moved the board meeting to the Rocklin Events Center to accommodate nearly 500 people who attended, including parents and advocates on both sides of the issue.
“To teach my kid that biologically this boy was born a boy and to teach him that now he’s a girl is very confusing and I feel it’s a lie,” parent Chelsea McQuistan said in the meeting, according to Fox 40 News.
LGBT advocates on the front row held signs that read, “Trans rights are human rights,” and, “Trans kids have courage.”
After five hours of statements, the five-member board voted unanimously to affirm a set of recommendations from the school administration, including one that declined to adopt an opt-out policy.
Four pro-family groups (California Family Council, the Capitol Resource Institute, the Pacific Justice Institute, and Alliance Defending Freedom) unsuccessfully proposed the board adopt the “Parental Rights in Child’s Education Policy,” that outlined two main provisions. The first would have required schools to notify parents about lessons related to gender, gender identity, transgenderism, and sexual orientation and to allow them to opt out their students. Currently, the school only allows notification and opting out for lessons on sex education, which the school maintains does not include transgenderism. Second, the school would have been required to notify parents if their child might be in a “state of undress” in the same room as someone of the opposite biological sex. Parents would have been allowed to request a “privacy accommodation” for their child such as a single-user restroom.
School officials insisted that state privacy and antidiscrimination laws did not require parental notification on topics of gender identity and that to allow parents to opt out of such lessons would discriminate against transgender students.
But that is a misunderstanding of the law, according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
“Nothing in California law prohibits schools from providing notice and opt-out before [gender identity and sexual orientation] issues are raised,” said an ADF statement on the matter. “In fact, doing so shows a proper respect for the primary role of parents in addressing controversial topics.”
A provision asking teachers to notify parents about controversial topics did pass the board on Monday, but it was “really weak,” Greg Burt of the California Family Council told LifeSiteNews. Burt said the requirement was not mandatory and only required that teachers to “try to notify parents” without any accountability if they did not.
“The school district has the option to provide all kinds of opt-outs,” said Burt, noting the school provided an opt-out for viewing the recent solar eclipse. “When you’re talking about something as sensitive and controversial as gender identity, for them to say they can’t provide an opt-out for parents is just flat-out wrong.”
Burt said 40 families and 71 kids have left the school over the issue, and he expects that more will leave after Monday’s decision.
“We’re not giving up,” Burt said. “We knew it would be a long haul, and that initially they would reject our suggestions, but this is not the end of it.”
— by Kiley Crossland