Covert Curriculum: A GUSD Case Study
There appears to have been a lot of movement in the Glendale Unified School District. Several parents made public comments at the GUSD Board of Education meeting on April 19th, 2022 about issues that we covered in a previous article regarding a teacher showing videos containing sexual content to 8 year olds. During the meeting, school board member Jennifer Freemon walked out of the room when concerned parents spoke; later during the board meeting, she stated that these parents arrived at the meeting with an agenda of “homophobia and hate.” Superintendent Vivian Ekchian did not respond to the substance of the parent comments, and instead chastised the parents for sharing the information on social media, and for “harassing and intimidating” staff.
On May 3rd, 2022 there was another Glendale Unified Board of Education meeting. Dozens of parents showed up both to protest the incident, and to show support for LGBT students and policies in the district. Among the latter, an unidentified man in a gender unicorn costume supported teaching sexual content to third graders:
The teacher at the center of the precipitating incident spoke at the podium in her own defense. What she said was so revealing that we feel the need to highlight it here. This teacher stated that she was part of a Learning for Justice pilot program:
“In January of 2021, I was accepted into Glendale Unified’s Learning for Justice pilot program, the only teacher from my school. This was a board approved pilot program, one that had been shared at public school board meetings. I, along with a group of teachers, was meant to pilot lessons based on the Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards. We collaborated and discussed with program supervisors various materials that we could support these standards. By joining the program, I had hoped to make my classroom a safe space, and that I could teach my students to love and accept one another, no matter their differences, even if some of them have been taught to disapprove or hate others who are different from them.”
She asserts that the content that she provided to the third grade class was related to the content that she was taught by GUSD to promote in the classroom.
She is right. We actually have the PowerPoint slides that were used at the Learning for Justice (previously known as Teaching Tolerance) pilot program training, which was explicitly focused on gender identity ideology. It included information like the gender unicorn diagram that teaches children about the concept of physical attraction, and the training discussed the importance of teaching children about gender identity concepts such as “the fluidity of gender identity and expression.” Here are some screenshots from the teacher training for the GUSD Learning for Justice pilot program:
This evidence supports the teacher’s assertion that she was trained on how to teach children about gender identity using the GUSD Learning for Justice pilot program. Then during GUSD’s designated LGBTQ Pride Week, she showed the videos at the center of the controversy. One parent saw the lesson as it was being given on Zoom, opted her child out of viewing the video, and so the teacher reached out to the GUSD Teaching and Learning Department to ask for guidance. What did GUSD’s Teaching and Learning Department tell her to do in response? They told her to be “brave” and keep showing the videos, and they even recommended other gender identity ideology videos to show. The GUSD Teaching and Learning Department administrators did not recommend granting the wish of the parent who requested to opt out her child, and the administrators did not recommend notifying other parents and allowing them to opt their children out as well.
The teacher also revealed in her public comment that she was removed from her classroom and reassigned without explanation to the students or parents in the class. Further, the district made the following statement to the press:
Glendale Unified School District’s spokeswoman Kristine Nam told the Daily Caller that the curriculum that upset parents is “not part of the district’s approved core or supplemental curriculum.”
“Glendale Unified has a thorough process in place for curriculum selection and adoption that has multiple opportunities for community input,” Nam said. “The district is continuing to investigate the allegations that the video was shown to third-grade students. There are no findings to report at this time.”
This is an astonishing statement. The evidence we have in hand supports the teacher’s assertion that she was trained to present this type of material in her class, yet the district instead denied that the material was approved.
During the May 3rd Board meeting, GUSD repeatedly described the situation as the action of a lone teacher. They maintained that this is not a district-wide problem, and that the video in question is not in the “approved core or supplemental curriculum.” GUSD took no responsibility – zero – for what they trained and encouraged this teacher to do. Teachers across the district should take note. If you do what you were trained to do, you may get thrown under the bus (on national media, no less) if parents complain to district administration.
Parents, what you need to understand is that districts have very little curriculum that is officially approved. This is a giant loophole that schools use to do whatever they want while taking no responsibility. We refer to this as a Covert Curriculum. The following documents are all examples of things that are not in the official curriculum, and are not even in the supplemental curriculum, and yet time, money and effort have been spent incorporating them into classroom lessons.
If this is not a district-wide issue, why was a top-level administrator in the Teaching and Learning Department at GUSD sending emails about how they will teach gender ideology to all students? In a response to a Public Records Act request, Craig Lewis wrote to colleagues Sally Myles and Director of Teaching and Learning Christopher Coulter, “We will also teach that LGBTQ+ is everybody,” and that they will teach that, “We are all probably best described as queer.”
Lewis also stated that the only difference is the degree to which dominant entities are willing to cause injury to enforce conformity to “normality,” — so anyone who is LGBT is injured? Physically and emotionally? By whom, their parents?
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why did a concerned parent send us 30 pages of receipts from the district which indicate that the district spent approximately $35,000 on Gender Spectrum conferences since 2015?
If this is not a district-wide issue, then how did one parent report uncovering an entire Google drive folder containing gender-identity resources that appeared to belong to Sally Myles, one of the top administrators in the Department of Teaching and Learning? This parent wrote about these discovered Google drive folders and shared the links in a Facebook post, which were accessible to members of the Facebook group, and many saw the folders and commented on the contents. Many of these resources were specifically for elementary school, including the Gender Unicorn mentioned above that discusses the concept of physical attraction, a copy of the GLSEN’s Elementary School Toolkit, as well as what one parent called a “Kid Friendly ‘cheat sheet’ on how to explain gender terms to children, provided by Sally Myles of GUSD district staff.” Soon after, access to that Google drive folder was restricted by GUSD and could no longer be viewed publicly. It is important to note that during a time when parents are protesting a lack of transparency, the district responded by further restricting access to parent oversight.
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why did Assistant Superintendent Kelly King and Hoover High School Principal Jenn Earl Foss go to Gender Spectrum conferences to give presentations on how they had successfully pushed gender ideology in GUSD schools? Gender Spectrum is the same organization that told participants at a conference that if a teenage girl gets her breasts removed and decides later that she is not transgender, that it is not a big deal because she can just get new breasts later.
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why did the Director of Teaching and Learning, Christopher Coulter, appear to attend those same Gender Spectrum conferences and attend trainings titled, “Instructional Practices on the Ground: Elementary School Lesson Plans and Activities” and “FAIR Education Gender and LGBTQ Inclusive History and Social Science”? His Gender Spectrum Conference itinerary is available online:
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why did Assistant Superintendent Kelly King give two separate YouTube presentations promoting gender identity ideology in K-12 schools? One was a 1.5 hour tutorial using GUSD as an example of how to implement Gender Support Plans, and the second was titled “Gender Inclusive Leadership in Action.” We have covered some of our concerns about these videos in previous articles (here and here.)
If it’s not a district-wide issue, then why did the district pay thousands of dollars last year alone for Gender Spectrum gender identity ideology training for Dunsmore Elementary and Rosemont Middle School staff? Here is a document from May 7, 2021 that shows that Dunsmore Elementary School paid $1,075 for a Gender Spectrum training on “Online Foundations of Gender Inclusive Schools”:
Rosemont Middle School also paid $1,000 to Gender Spectrum on October 6th, 2021 for the same training. We wonder what, “Training that builds on understanding of basic concepts of gender and applies them to teacher and institutional practices” means.
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why did someone send us a “Dimensions of Gender” training that was put on by three district staff members, purportedly in 2019? Some of the slides from that presentation are below:
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why did Assistant Superintendent Kelly King, when she was Interim Superintendent of the entire district in 2019, conduct a training for staff about how gender is assigned at birth, and that sex is a spectrum?
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why did a parent find out that his child was shown an LGBT video, and when he asked the teacher to see that same video, he was initially denied and told instead to get permission from the principal?
If it’s not a district-issue, why did a GUSD teacher make school board comments that the district has Genders and Sexualities Alliance or GSA clubs in all GUSD schools including elementary schools?
If it’s not a district-wide issue, then why did Dunsmore Elementary conduct a teacher training on gender diversity, led by a staff member from a prominent gender identity ideology organization, the Los Angeles Gender Center? The facilitator was Susan Landon, and here is an example of her gender identity presentations found on YouTube, discussing content that many parents might find objectionable:
Below is a flyer about the presentation. One parent reported to us that they called the school and asked what was presented at the training, and the district responded and said no notes were taken “to help everyone feel safe.” The flyer states, “Our kids are having these conversations …whether we like it or not.” Are they having them in the classroom? With school staff?
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why does Mountain Avenue Elementary School have something called a “Connections Club” for gender diverse kids? The advisor for that Connections Club did an interview in which she states that she talks about her sexual orientation openly with her students:
If it’s not a district-wide issue, then why did we find out through a teacher’s Facebook post that Crescenta Valley High School did an entire LGBTQ+ Solidarity Week? Were parents informed? This Solidarity Week, according to a schedule posted by the high school teacher, required students to watch videos in homeroom about gender identity, pronouns, sex identity, and how it’s different from gender identity. Then Crescenta Valley High School made students watch a presentation about the school’s harassment policy, implying to all of them that if they expressed disagreement with this content, they would be disciplined. During lunchtime there were asexual, pansexual and transgender pride flags passed out. Then during a time when parents were not allowed on campus due to COVID, when so many other events were cancelled, when COVID rates were cause for alarm and the district was constantly talking about minimizing risk, Crescenta Valley High School had a 4th period assembly specifically for LGBTQ+ Solidarity Week.
If this is not a district-wide issue, then why was a presentation put on by Susan Landon in 2018, along with Aydin Olson-Kennedy, called “Comprehensive Care for Gender Non-Conforming and Transgender Youth”? GUSD paid $5,000 to train counselors, psychologists, and administrators, and this was approved by the GUSD School Board. What was presented at that training?
If this is not a district-wide issue, why did Kelly King do a presentation at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena 2017 regarding GUSD’s work on gender and sexuality?
This is just the information that has been uncovered to date. Remember this when Glendale Unified tells you that there is no gender identity ideology in the “approved curriculum.” Does all of this information appear to be the actions of a lone teacher, or a district-wide effort?
Are you a parent who is surprised that gender ideology is being embedded in your child’s education without your knowledge or consent? Please let GUSD know your thoughts about this covert curriculum:
Glendale Unified School District:
Vivian Ekchian: Superintendent of Glendale Schools, <email@example.com>
Kelly King, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Greg Krikorian: <email@example.com>
Shant Sahakian: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jennifer Freemon: <email@example.com>
Armina Gharpetian: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nayiri Nahabedian: <email@example.com>
The Gender Identity K-12 Team