‘Concerned Lexington Parents’ Start Petition Demanding Opt-Out For Class On Gender, Sexual Orientation For Elementary School Children

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/08/26/concerned-lexington-parents-start-petition-demanding-opt-out-for-class-on-gender-sexual-orientation-for-elementary-school-children/

A group of parents in Lexington have published a petition demanding an opt-out for an elementary school class that introduces concepts of sexual orientation and transgenderism.

The petition specifically mentions a curriculum for first-graders that teachers at Bowman Elementary School in Lexington have developed called “Serious Talks,” which discusses homosexual identities, race, and transgenderism. The curriculum ends with the students learning about political activism and creating a public activism project.

Parents are not allowed to opt their children out of the class.

“We are a concerned, significantly growing group of Lexington parents and community members who have happened to find out about the ‘Serious Talks’ curriculum being taught to children starting in first grade,” the petition, started July 11, states. “Parents have been left in the dark about what and how gender identity is being taught to our children in Lexington elementary schools.”

Some 1,658 people had signed the petition as of early afternoon Saturday, August 26, according to Change.org, which hosts the petition. Anyone can sign the petition, which does not list the names of signers or where they are from.

Julie Hackett, the superintendent of Lexington public schools, has released a report defending the curriculum, dated Tuesday, August 29, which is when the first school committee meeting of the year is scheduled to take place, during which Serious Talks is scheduled to be discussed.

“The Serious Talks curriculum is a series of 20-25 lessons at each grade level, K-5, that teaches students about the diversity of our world, the value each person brings, how to look critically at bias and prejudice, how to understand historic and present-day examples of power, privilege, and oppression, and ways students have agency in their classrooms, schools, and communities to make positive change,” Hackett wrote in the report.

The Lexington curriculum for first-graders is split into six units, each composed of two to 10 classes that don’t last more than an hour. One description for an early class called “Who Am I?” says that the first graders “will learn the meaning of identity through a visual of a paper identity doll and how aspects can be visible and invisible.” Just a few classes later the students will “will learn that people can identify as gay and lesbian” and “transgender.”

The curriculum introduces the concepts through board books:  And Tango Makes Three, a book about homosexual penguins, and I am Jazz, a true-life story about a boy who began struggling with gender identity at age two. NewBostonPost has previously reported on the presence of I am Jazz in various Massachusetts libraries. 

A few classes later, in “Celebrating Identity,” the students “will create a paper identity doll to represent the visible and invisible aspects of their identity” to review the concepts.

As part of the last unit, the first-graders are to learn about activism from The Little Book of Activists, written by Bob Bland, the co-chairman of the 2017 Women’s March, which protested then-President Donald Trump and expressed support for legal abortion. The students will then have an opportunity to create their own projects. “Students will make their activism project public by internet or public event (depending on the project),” the curriculum says.

The superintendent said the new curriculum is appropriate and fits in well with the school district’s current approach.

“In all LPS elementary schools, students are taught that gender identity is feeling like a boy, girl, both or neither,” Hackett wrote in her report. She went on to explain that “Serious Talks” makes clear to students that “for some people, the labels they were given at birth do not match who they are on the inside, and they may use different pronouns or express themselves in a way that is different from what their body shows.”

In answer to a question as to whether parents can opt their children out, Hackett wrote:  “The work that we have been doing in Lexington for the past decade is integrated into all facets of our curriculum that focuses on kindness and inclusion.”

Hackett has not yet responded to a request for comment by NewBostonPost earlier this week.

Jessica Richardson, an administrator at Massachusetts Informed Parents and a communications and research assistant at Massachusetts Family Institute, condemned “Serious Talks” and the inability to opt out of it in an email message to NewBostonPost.

Massachusetts Informed Parents is a non-profit organization that notifies parents about sexually explicit materials in public schools and libraries. The group published a Substack post criticizing the “Serious Talks” curriculum.

In her email message, Richardson said that the curriculum “smuggles controversial moral and political issues into the elementary school classroom. Instead of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, Serious Talks teaches kids as young as 6 years old about transgenderism, diverse sexualities, identity politics, and how to become an activist. These lessons conflict with many families’ deeply held values and beliefs, not to mention biological reality.”

“The sensitive topics raised in Serious Talks should be addressed at home by the parents, who know their child best — not in the classroom by an activist teacher,” she said.


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