By Andrew Zirkle | CALIFORNIA
A very grisly and public battle waged over the last few months in Rocklin, California culminated in a school board decision that prevents parents from pulling their kindergarten-aged children out of a “story time” that involve transgender issues.
The controversy began last June when a 5-year-old transgender student brought the book “I am Jazz,” a book about a teenage transgender girl and activist, into school. Then, the child, who was born male, reportedly changed into feminine clothing and was reintroduced as a girl in front of the class. The whole lesson which included this transition, as well as the reading of the book “I am Jazz” and another book that addressed transgender issues, all occurred in the week before summer vacation. A 1st grader was also reportedly sent to the office after misgendering the transgender student.
A group of parents immediately became outraged upon knowledge of this lesson and complained to the school board that the lesson was encouraging their children to change gender. Some parents also cited a California law that requires ample notice and opt-out options for sexual education topics expected to be discussed at school. The Rocklin school board then released a statement countering parents concerns that stated that the school wasn’t required to notify parents about lessons on transgenderism because it didn’t classify as sex-ed and that discrimination based on gender identity is illegal according to California state law. This single exchange ignited a national controversy that resulted in the involvement of activism heavyweights like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Civil Liberties Union, among others.
Following the controversy, the school has said the they have been subject to a myriad of requests from parents, including prohibition of school employees from telling students they should refer to students by their preferred names or pronouns; asking that their children not be placed in classes with transgender children; asking the school to prohibit children from using bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity; and requests that the teacher who read the book face discipline. All of the effort put into this battle came to a climax on Monday night, when 500 people descended upon a meeting that the school board had decided would result in a final policy decision. The board considered a number of recommendations made by the administrators. These recommendations consisted of accommodating students who aren’t comfortable using a restroom in the current gender-based restroom system and re-affirming the district’s book selection policies.
The most controversial issue of the night was a “model parental rights” proposal, put forward by a conservative advocacy association, that would have allowed parents to remove their children from controversial family-education lessons, however, this proposal failed to be adopted by the board. Instead, the board moved to adopt a more middle of the road policy that would notify parents of controversial lessons, but would not allow for in school opt-outs. Although it appears as though this issue has reached a resolution, it has been reported that over 71 kids have been removed from the school by parents upset with how the issue was handled by the school.