Transgender school lesson for 5-year-olds sparks parent backlash

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A kindergarten lesson on what it means to be transgender has sparked a backlash from parents in California.

A teacher distributed two books in a kindergarten class specifically designed for young children.

The lesson at the Rocklin school was planned at the request of a 5-year-old classmate who had just come out as a trans girl to her class.

Transgender school lesson for 5-year-olds sparks parent backlash

A week later, the school sent out a letter, notifying parents about the books that were read – I am Jazz by Jazz Jennings, and Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall.

The letter additionally disclosed the school’s policy on non-discrimination on the basis of “gender and gender identity”.

Parents’ responses to the curriculum choice were split. Some offered their vocal support for the decision.

Ankur Dhawan, a parent of a Rocklin student, told FOX40 that his daughter “learned about a girl in a boy’s body, this turned out to be a fairly decent way of introducing a topic that I wouldn’t otherwise know to do”.

Other parents expressed concern over the curriculum, and contacted the California Family Council to represent them in a dialogue with the school district.

Greg Burt, director of capitol engagement with the California Family Council, said: “They’re concerned that they weren’t notified this was coming.

“These kids who had never struggled with their gender identity before are all of a sudden scared they could be turned into a boy.”

District Superintendent Robin Stout admitted that parents are not notified unless the curriculum falls under the opt-out provisions, which gender teaching materials are not included in.

The Pacific Justice Institute, an advocate organisation for “defending religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties”, also weighed in on the issue.

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“The majority of parents who had children in this kindergarten did not think that it would be age appropriate,” Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus said.

Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, told FOX40: “Having an authority figure teach the myth that a child can be trapped in the wrong body will potentially lead to fear that they aren’t the sex their bodies clearly indicate.”

But one Rocklin parent, Dhawan, disagreed.

“One of the lessons my daughter was able to learn was that there’s fundamental intelligence, dignity and character to every human regardless of what else might be going on,” they said.

The dispute remains unresolved. A petition circulating among some parents is demanding the school administration reform its policies, allowing for parents to be notified of any controversial content, and to be provided with the option to opt-out their children from said lessons.

In a statement during a board meeting, the district assured parents that staff would be “engaging parents and teachers in discussions about how materials outside our curriculum will be addressed in the future”.