Leaked GUSD Email Shows Disregard for Parent’s Request on Gender Identity Videos
On June 7, 2021, a 3rd grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Glendale Unified School District contacted her administration and said that she was talking to her class about LGBTQ pride month and “played 2 short videos from youtube.” She said that a parent saw this on Zoom class, since this was during COVID distance learning, the parent “made her daughter leave zoom and texted me asking me when I was done discussing sexual orientation so she could let her kids back into zoom.” The teacher said that she was planning to do more lessons the following day, “but now I’m afraid to.” The Glendale Administration told the teacher to proceed with showing videos against the parent’s wishes. The Glendale Unified administrators told the teacher, “Do not be concerned or afraid,” and “Thank you for your bravery!”
Here are links to the videos that the Jefferson teacher either showed or planned to share with her 3rd graders:
Whether all these videos are appropriate or not may vary among parents, and that is the point. Parents should have the right to choose whether they want their child to learn the content in these videos, including the right to decide at what age and in what setting they learn it. Some parents may want to teach this content exclusively at home, some parents may want it only taught one-on-one. Some may be open to teaching it but think that elementary school is too young; still others want to teach their children about gender identity ideology but think that unvetted YouTube videos are an inappropriate way to do it. Some don’t believe in gender identity ideology, and some feel it violates their religious beliefs. Parents have different opinions about what is appropriate or not, particularly when it comes to sexual topics. We believe if there is any doubt about the appropriateness of the material, parents should be notified in advance.
The most alarming video that we would like to discuss is “Talking To Kids About Pride Month” with Jessi Cruickshank. In this video, we see the normalization of an adult speaking to children about sexual desires. It desensitizes children to the act of adults talking to them about sexual topics. In the video, the host says, “Jodie Foster is a woman, and she made me question my sexuality when I was a child because I liked her so much. And she was nude in the film ‘Nell.’ Not that I remember watching it several times as a child.”
This video is intended to instruct children about appropriate interpersonal relationships – and what did the child learn? The child learned that it is okay for an adult to talk to a child about watching nude people in movies, and having it affect their sexual desires and sexual arousal. This is normalizing behavior – a known tactic of sexual groomers – that should be a warning sign to parents and children. The behavior observed here is adults talking to children about sexual desires and sexual attraction.
Imagine if a male was leading this video and talking to your child about watching a particular actress nude in a movie. How would you respond?
This video was considered by a 3rd grade teacher to be suitable for classroom instruction. When she sent her email to GUSD administration, did they flag it as inappropriate? Did they provide feedback to the teacher about why the video is not suitable for children? Did they encourage the teacher to notify the concerned parents that she was planning to show these videos during an upcoming class?
Here is the response from GUSD administrator Craig Lewis:
The administration did say the teacher should reconsider the second video, not because it includes an adult discussing sexual desires with children, but instead because it might “trigger” parents due to its use of the terms “sexual” diversity and “coming out.”
Why have schools lost the ability to identify inappropriate sexual content for children?
Lewis did not advise the teacher to respect the parent’s desire to opt out their child from content about sexual orientation and gender identity. Instead, he encouraged the teacher to proceed, and did not mention notifying parents about future content or allowing the parent to opt their child out of future content. The administrator told the teacher, “Do not be concerned or afraid. Your principal should support you as I know that our district, including Vivian does.” Here he is apparently referring to Vivian Ekchian, the Superintendent of Glendale Unified School District.
A second GUSD administrator, Sally Myles, responded as well:
Myles says that she “applauds” the resources found by the teacher. She adds, “Sadly, I agree with his comments about the Jessi Cruickshank video - there’s nothing wrong with it (in fact, I think it’s totally engaging) - but it could potentially trigger some parents due to the reasons he mentioned.” Then she said, “Thank you for your bravery…”
The teacher responds, “I will be brave!”
Again, a second administrator was unable to recognize inappropriate sexual content for elementary school children.
We ask you parents to consider: What are they being brave about? Usually we are told to be brave when we are confronted with a foe, an adversary, a battle – when we need to overcome something harmful or threatening. Who is the foe? Is it the parent who doesn’t want their 8-year old child exposed to gender identity ideology?
What makes this incident even more concerning is we received information that a parent group actually met with GUSD administration the week prior to this email exchange. The meeting included the two GUSD administrators in this email as well as Director of Teaching and Learning Christopher Coulter, GUSD Assistant Superintendent Kelly King, and GUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. The group met regarding the topic of exposing children to topics of gender identity and sexual orientation during elementary school, which parents were concerned was too early for their children. The parents were told that their concerns would be taken into consideration and that their voices were heard. One week later, we see in this email that GUSD administrators doubled down on exposing 3rd graders to a very specific gender ideology, even after a parent asked that her child be opted out of the “lessons.”
You might be thinking that this is all confusing, don’t parents have a right to opt out of gender identity and sexual orientation topics? The answer according to GUSD is no.
Per the state of California, parents do not have the right to opt their children out of gender identity and sexual orientation instruction. In this Glendale Unified video presentation titled “Superintendent’s Community Update December 16, 2021: Building Healthy Communities,” the Director of Teaching and Learning, Christopher Coulter, specifically says, “Opt out provision does not apply to instruction or materials outside the context of comprehensive sexual health education, including those that may reference gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, discrimination, bullying, relationships or family.”
To reiterate, in California public schools, not only are you not allowed to opt your child out of this instruction, the teacher is not required to notify parents in advance when they are discussing gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The only reason the parent knew anything was happening was because she observed it directly on Zoom school during COVID distance learning.
Please let GUSD know your thoughts:
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>
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The Gender Identity K-12 Team