Over 500 parents and activists spent four hours in front of a Rocklin California Charter School Board last Monday night sounding off on whether transgenderism was an “age appropriate” topic for kindergartners. Nearly 30 school parents stood at the microphone and answered that question with a resounding “no,” while only 10 parents spoke to support the idea. In the end, the numbers and two minute speeches, that went on for hours, didn’t matter. Instead of valuing their partnership with parents, something touted in charter school’s mission statement, board members took the advice of their paid administrators and refused let parents opt their children out of lessons on transgenderism.
One of those who stood to speak at the school board meeting was California Family Council’s Director of Capitol Engagement, Greg Burt.
“Our state and federal courts recognize that parents have the ultimate responsibility to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children,” Burt said. “The California legislature has also recognized that parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for imparting values regarding human sexuality to their children.”
Then quoting constitutional scholar Dean Broyles with the National Center for Law & Policy, Burt told the board:
“The parents of Rocklin Academy are much better and are more accurate judges of what is age-appropriate for their children, not the state or the state’s purported educational experts. Discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation are issues that many parents desire to introduce to their children in their own time and in a manner consistent with their values and beliefs. Thus, schools should respect the authority of parents and provide notice and opt-out prior to these issues being taught.”
Rocklin Academy parents, with the help of CFC and other pro-parental rights organizations, asked school board members to adopt a new parental rights policy with two main provisions. The first would require schools to treat the teaching of gender identity with the same notification, inspection, and opt-out provisions required of sex education curriculum. The second would ensure a child’s constitutional right to bodily privacy at school and at school sponsored functions. Parents would have to be notified by school officials if their child might be in a “state of undress” in the same room as someone of the opposite biological sex. If this was a possibility, parents would have a right to obtain a “privacy accommodation” for their child, such as a single-user restroom, locker room, or similar facility.
School board members rejected the parent proposal, and instead accepted the school administration’s recommendation to keep the school’s literature policy. The only concession the board made was to revise their parent/student hand book which now says, “Teachers will endeavor to notify parents in advance of controversial topics… . Where advance notice is not possible, teachers will endeavor to notify parents via email or verbally after the fact.”
But the new policy also added this caveat, “It must be noted that since every parent has a different definition of what would constitute a controversial and/or sensitive topic, the school cannot always guarantee notice to parents because a teacher might not recognize a topic as generally controversial or sensitive even though it might be controversial and/or sensitive to an individual.”
According to parents and parental rights groups, this policy change was not acceptable.
“This changes next to nothing,” Burt said. “Teachers will still be able to teach their version of gender identity to kindergartners and they aren’t required to tell parents anything.”
Parental rights groups and some parents are mulling over next steps, while other parents have decided to remove their children from the school, having completely lost trust in its teachers and administrators. So far 41 families and 73 children have left. But the school has over 1000 kids on its waiting list, so it isn’t clear how much the departures will affect the charter school financially.