Around 700 children are reported to have been kept at home by parents.
Parents in California have been withholding their children from schools under the Rocklin Unified School District over new lessons which include historical LGBTQ figures.
One example is the the inclusion of the astronaut Sally Ride. The new textbook says Sally “joined NASA and became the first female and first lesbian American astronaut,” which is a statement of fact.
However, the inclusion of Sally’s sexuality is what has led to protests, with some feeling that second grade children are “too young” to learn about differences in sexuality.
It should be noted that the lessons aren’t any form of sex education, and just highlight someone’s sexuality.
Speaking to the Sacramento Bee when discussions were being held over whether to include the LGBTQ-related content, Sally Crutchfield, a spokeswoman for the Informed Parents of Rocklin, said: “We believe that anyone who has made a significant contribution to society should, of course, be included in our history textbooks.
“However, the concept of sexual orientation is far too complex of a topic for elementary-aged children to be introduced to at school.”
Amy Bentley, a math teacher at a Rocklin school disagreed, arguing: “Many students enter middle school already knowing they’re different, which is why it’s so important for this curriculum to be adopted at the elementary level.”
Speaking on the television station KTXL, Rachel Henry, the Sacramento LGBT Community Center’s spokeswoman, said: “I know the importance of this inclusive curriculum from both a personal and professional perspective.
“There are several empirical studies that show textbook curriculum that is explicitly inclusive of the LGBTQ+ has dramatically positive effects on school climate for both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ students.
“Students of marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, have a right to see themselves reflected in the history that they study.”
The move is similar to what is happening at the Parkfield Academy in Birmingham. Protests were held against the ‘No Outsiders’ program, which covers gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and age.
Parents have been complaining to the school and protesting en-masse for weeks, leading the school to make a plea to parents to stop as it was “upsetting and disruptive” for the children. The disagreement culminated in around 600 students being pulled from the school for the day.
Parent Fatima Shah spoke out to say: “We are not a bunch of homophobic mothers, we just feel that some of these lessons are inappropriate. Some of the themes being discussed are very adult and complex and the children are getting confused.”
It’s worth remembering that children are capable of complex thinking from primary age, and are less likely to be as confused by topics like sexual orientations and disabilities as people assume.