A California school board voted late Monday night in favor of a literary policy that allows controversial books like “I Am Jazz,” which tells the story of a transgender girl, to be read in class and won’t allow parents the option of opting their children out of that lesson.
However, the school will “endeavor” to notify parents about such controversial topics.
Hundreds of parents packed the charter school board meeting for the Rocklin Academy Family of Schools Monday for a passionate debate about gender identity and its place in the classroom.
Some parents proposed a new policy requiring the charter school to let them know if controversial topics, like gender identity, would be discussed in class and allow their students to opt out.
“For them to say that they can teach my child about transgender without me even knowing about it is wrong,” said parent Chelsea McQuistan, who has two children who attend Rocklin Academy Gateway and a third who is about to enter kindergarten.
“Gender and sexuality are not the same thing, and I think we end up in a place where parents can opt out of anything they find offensive, which is subjective,” said Jen Hansen, another parent in the charter school.
The debate was sparked in June when a Rocklin Academy Gateway transgender student brought the book “I Am Jazz,” to her kindergarten class. She then asked the teacher to read the book, which is about a transgender girl’s transition, to the class so other students knew what she was going through.
Some parents said their children came home questioning their gender after school.
“This book was outside the curriculum and I see it as a controversial subject to discuss with a kindergartner,” said Wendy Sickler, who is the parent of two kids at Rocklin Academy Gateway.
Ankur Dhawan’s daughter was in class when the teacher read “I Am Jazz” to students and was taken aback when she told him about it.
“I’ve struggled with the question of parental notification quite a bit. But when I put my need against the child who’s going through that transition, I realized it’s not the same thing,” Dhawan said. “This child needs us to come together as a community and respect their dignity and their character.”
California law allows parents to opt out of sex education, but gender identity doesn’t fall under that category.
“It’s like race or religion or ethnicity. It’s a protected class but it’s not sex ed so parents actually don’t have the opportunity to opt out and…