A northern California school board has decided to reconsider its book-sharing policy, after a kindergartner made national news last summer when he asked his teacher to read a book about transgenderism to his class. A 5-year-old boy, at the behest of his parents, asked his teacher to read “I am Jazz” to his Rocklin Gateway Academy charter school last June to help the class accept his transition into a girl identity. The other parents didn’t hear about it until some of their children came home scared and confused.
Parents rallied together last September to ask the charter school board, directly overseeing the school, to adopt a notification and opt out policy requiring parents to be notified when issues of gender identity and sexual orientation were taught in class, with the option to opt their children out of those lessons. The charter school board rejected their proposal and instead adopted a policy which states teachers will “endeavor to notify” parents of controversial topics discussed in class before or after they happen. What was considered “controversial” would be left up to teachers and administrators to decide.
At least 90 students left the school as a result, but some parents haven’t given up their fight for parental rights. With the help of Karen England with the California Research Institute, they asked the Newcastle Elementary School Board of Trustees, the school district board that oversees Rocklin Gateway Academy, to adopt the notification and opt out policy last Tuesday night. The policy was put together by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the country’s premier legal organizations. The Newcastle board was also given an ADF document defending the policy against criticism that the policy violated California’s laws against discrimination. If adopted, the policy would not apply to Rocklin Gateway Academy, because of its unique independent charter status, but the policy would apply to other schools under the district’s control.
“Without a policy like this, parents can’t trust that this isn’t going to go on,” England told the Newcastle trustees. “We have parents that were at this charter school for so many years. Love it, loved the teachers, [but] were shocked at the contempt with which they were treated about their own kids.”
After several parents stood to speak in support of the policy, the trustees agreed to do some research to consider changing their policy regarding which books should be read in class.
“What if someone brought in a book on white supremacy, or what if someone brought in a book with implied hate statements in it?” Board member Gary McAnally asked.
“Given recent history with a book being introduced by a parent,” said McAnally. “I would like to see us consider some wording that would address material coming into the classroom by a parent, something other than what is in the curriculum…, that before that can be introduced to a class, it has to go through a review and vetting process.”
To watch an edited video of the entire Newcastle Elementary School Board meeting click here.
Reach out to the Newcastle Elementary School Board and tell them to support parental notification and opt out rights for parents.