Some Maryland parents argue a new health curriculum is unfit for young students

 Some Maryland parents argue a new health curriculum is unfit for young students


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Parents in some Maryland districts are pushing against the efforts of their board members to adopt a state health framework. teaching teachers how to teach about gender identity.

The framework broadly outlines how to teach health topics at each grade level; family life and its sexuality guidelines are the most controversial. Under the guidance, prekindergarten students, for example, are taught to “recognize and respect that people express themselves in different ways.” It even advises school systems to teach kindergartners how to “recognize different ways in which people express their identity and gender.”

While parents can choose their children from the lessons if they are in fourth grade or higher, Students in prekindergarten through third grade were not given an option to opt out, according to the framework. Other school districts have not yet discussed the structure, but there is controversy in some areas regarding it.

In those districts, families argued that the curriculum was not appropriate for young students, and argued that school systems should allow parents to express more input into what they were being taught. children. They’ve done a lot at school board meetings – especially in Frederick and Carroll counties – to encourage local districts to drop the state framework.

“Children belong to their parents; not this county, not this state, ”a longtime resident of the county with great -grandchildren in the school system told Carroll County school board members in April. “The government has no right to try to change parents or their decisions about what their children have learned.” He added after he offered to pay for books for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to home-school, if the health framework is adopted by the school district.

The discourse mirrors others that are happening across the country as parents, teachers and legislators are sparring to combine the topics of gender identity and sexuality in education. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is a move to ban discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity for K-3 students and imposing strict limits on what is discussed in higher grade level. The Parental Rights in Education law has been called by state Democrats and LGBTQ activists a “don’t say gay” bill. In Virginia, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) signed legislation requiring school districts to notify parents whenever instructional materials contain explicit sexual content and provide an alternative, vague materials upon request.

Florida legislature passes bill to restrict LGBTQ topics in elementary schools

Sex education researchers say the rhetoric used in these misunderstandings misrepresents what is actually being taught.

Eva Goldfarb, a Montclair State University public health professor who researches sexuality education, said Maryland’s structure is “evolving and age-appropriate.” The gender identity section teaches students non -controversial topics, such as there are no jobs suitable for one gender and not the other. Curriculum that starts the conversation at a younger age has been proven to prevent sexual abuse, create healthier relationships, reduce intimate partner violence and increase empathy, she said.

The Maryland framework was adopted by the State Board of Education in 2019, school systems have recently begun discussing how to integrate it into their lesson plans, and they have gotten the push of the process.

The Maryland State Board did not respond to questions about the deadline framework.

At a Carroll County school board meeting in April, the curriculum was not on the school board’s agenda, but several parents asked the board to oppose its adoption during public comment.

The Frederick County school board voted to adopt the curriculum in March. It sent the framework to its Family Life Advisory Committee to review and decide what lesson plans to make, in accordance with normal board protocols, said Brad Young, the school board president.

But the first adoption board received vitriol online, and the misinformation quickly spread to family groups, Young said. Daniel Cox, a Republican primary candidate for governor of Maryland who got the endorsement of former president Donald Trump, accused Young online of “misleading children for potential chemical and sexual castration. posture. “

People flooded the Family Life Advisory Committee meeting, thinking the school board was teaching about “anal sex and gender identity among their preschoolers and kindergartners,” Young said. The meeting was out of control as parents tried to pick up the microphone at a committee meeting at times without scheduled public comment, he said.

Young explained that the curriculum adopted is appropriate for elementary students. When it’s over, it’s likely to teach at the elementary level that families look different – some families have a mother and a father, some have a mother, and some have two fathers – and everything is OK, as he said.

“[The school board’s] The job is to formulate policy for the school system, community listening and adoption, ”Young said. “And if they let that process work, I think in the end, people are good at the result.”

Kris Fair, executive director of the Frederick Center – a support center for LGBTQ + individuals, said initially, the committee meeting was not on their radar as a source of potential conflict because the framework was not harmful. . But he attended the meeting and listened to the individuals paint it as a gesture.

“That language is straight from the 1970s playbook on how to curb the sexual orientation of teachers in our community,” Fair said. “The word ‘groomer’ is used to demean and demean and degrade and, in some cases, kill teachers badly.”

The language motivates people in the LGBTQ community, he said. Gradually it became more obvious that the meeting could be an unsafe environment: One trans teenager took off their trans pride hat, and another man took off their pride cape. The center quickly took some of the LGBTQ people it invited to the meeting because of a safety concern. Many started crying in the parking lot after the meeting, Fair said.

Since then, the controversy has calmed down, he said. But he said he encourages people to “learn that there are people who aren’t as healthy as you.”

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Attendees at the meeting said they were upset because the curriculum had no options for all grade levels, and they preferred to hold the conversations at home. A slate of four Frederick County school board candidates running the platforms advocating for more parental choice of education, there is also argued that the school board should oppose the adoption of the state structure. However, they said, the board should focus on improving math, social studies, English skills and science curriculum, especially given the nationwide loss of learning that has occurred as schools transition to virtual instruction. during a coronavirus pandemic.

One of the slate candidates, Nancy Allen, says the state’s health education guidelines eliminate children’s sensitivity to sexual content and are inconsistent with academic standards.

“The influencers behind the framework are the influencers who never have the most interest in the kids at heart,” Allen said. “Their focus is not first and center on every student’s education.”

Meanwhile, Montgomery County Schools, Maryland’s largest district, is scheduled to begin implementing the framework in the coming school year. It will begin improving the high school curriculum this summer, and will begin phasing the framework to other grade levels over the next few years.

Decisions about the curriculum will still come to other districts. A spokesman from Prince George’s County Public Schools said the school system has not officially adopted the framework, but is expected to begin the process soon.



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