California School Board Says Allowing Opt-Out of Discussions on Gender Identity Would Be ‘Discriminatory’

ROCKLIN, Calif. — Officials with a school board in California that recently drew controversy after a kindergarten teacher read two books to students about transgender issues stated during a meeting on Monday that allowing opt-outs of discussions on gender identity and homosexuality would be “discriminatory.”

While the Rocklin Academy School Board agreed to provide advance notice about such discussions, it asserted in a revised policy that to allow parents to opt-out their children “on the basis of characteristics of protected classes (e.g., race, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, and disabilities) creates a discriminatory environment that is prohibited by law.”

In some cases, when the matter conflicts with student privacy rights, parents might not be provided with all of the details and reasoning for the lesson or discussion.

“As a result of student privacy rights, parent(s) may not be notified of all circumstances that led the school to choose a particular piece of supplemental instructional material,” the new policy reads. “For example, if the school determines that it is necessary to prevent racial harassment or bullying, it might choose to expose students to material on racial discrimination to sensitize students about the need to teach others with respect.”

The policy was approved unanimously by the board following four hours of public comment from those on both sides of the issue. The meeting attracted over 500 community members, some of whom told officials that it should be the parents, not the school, to speak to their children about such topics.

“This was alarming because it happened at such a young age and outside of the curriculum and there was no notice given,” one parent also declared.

“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 that it’s a lie,” another stated.

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According to reports, a proposal had been put forward by Capitol Resource Institute that would have allowed parents to review controversial material before it is introduced in the classroom, and to allow opt-outs when parents desire, but the measure was rejected.

As previously reported, the meeting is the result of public outrage over an incident that occurred in June when kindergarten teacher Kaelin Swaney read the books “I Am Jazz” and “The Red Crayon” on the second-to-last day of school before summer break. The first book is about teen reality show star Jazz Jennings—a teenage boy who identifies as a girl, and the second tells the story of a blue crayon that was mislabeled red.

No advance notice or opt-out information was provided to parents.

When students came home and advised that they had learned about gender identity, with some confused about whether they could transition to the opposite gender, a number of parents contacted the school to express concern.

Principal Jillayne Antoon issued a letter a week later to advise what had transpired in the classroom. She outlined that a student had asked the teacher to read “I Am Jazz” to the class. According to reports, a student who was born a boy but identifies as a girl gifted the books to the teacher. It is not clear if the student who donated the books was the same kindergartener that requested that the Jazz book be read aloud.

“Please be assured that these books are age appropriate children’s books, geared for ages 4-8,” Antoon wrote to parents. “There were no additional discussions with the class about any topic in relation to these books.”

However, parents say that the male student changed his clothes at some point during the class and presented himself as a girl.

During a board meeting last month, one mother lamented, “My daughter came home crying and shaking, so afraid she could turn into a boy.”

According to CBS Sacramento, 14 families have pulled their children out of the school in light of the matter, and Superintendent Robin Stout says she expects that more will follow. However, she noted that there are others on the waitlist to attend the charter school.

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