A health teacher has been suspended for educating seventh and tenth grade students on LGBTQ identities and topics.
Cambridge Central School in New York suspended the unnamed teacher, believed to be Jacqueline Hall, with pay, and also cancelled a planned second day of presentations with a staff member from the Pride Center of the Capital Region, the Post Star reports.
“The parents have concerns, and they are mine as well,” Superintendent Vince Canini said. Principal Caroline Goss was aware of the presentation, but had not seen handouts or heard the specifics in advance, Canini said.
Two packets were presented to students, one meant for seventh graders and one meant for tenth graders. The packet for younger students includes information like the definition of terms such as homophobia, intersex, cisgender, and gender non-conforming. The one meant for older kids is 42 pages and is more extensive in addressing LGBTQ issues.
Parents of seventh graders called the school to complain, and one angry parent, Sirell Fiel, read the handouts on a Facebook live video.
He said his seventh grade son brought home both packets, and said that the presenter from the Pride Center “didn’t have a gender,” and said the teaching violated his family’s “Christian values.”
“If you haven’t seen it yet, you should be searching your children’s books,” he said.
“I have no problem with the school talking about diversity. Gay kids are out there, and the kids need to know about it. But the problem I have is that it went so in-depth. That’s too much for 11- and 12-year-olds,” Fiel said.
Martha Harvey, president and CEO of the Pride Center of the Capital Region, said this is the first time she has heard of a complaint over the materials after 12 years of using their use in classrooms.
“Transgender kids are coming out younger and younger. Middle school is not too early to start,” Harvey said. “If you love your kids, you want them to have the most information possible. If a parent has a problem with this presentation, that’s the parent’s problem.”
“This program saves lives,” she added.
The school district sent a letter home to parents, informing them that the second day of presentations had been cancelled and that the teacher was on “administrative leave.” It was also posted to the district’s website.