A high-performing charter school, Nova Classical Academy in Minnesota has been changed forever. Parents are considered by the school to be “the primary educators of their children” as stated on its website, but have been “ridiculed, mocked, and accused of hatefulness and ignorance” for questioning new policies forcing gender inclusion on their students.
As Katherine Kersten reports, the principal of its primary school sent out an email to parents last year announcing the arrival of a “gender non-conforming” student. Lower school principal Brooke Tousignant defined the term “gender non-conforming”, explaining that it “…describes children whose identities, appearances, behaviors, or interests do not fit traditional societal expectations associated with their sex assigned at birth. It is important to note that this expression of gender is ever-changing as students are constantly exploring many different aspects of their identity.”
In order to “support” this child, the school would begin teaching students in years K-5 about “the beauty of being themselves” by requiring them to read the book “My Princess Boy”, which “tells the story of a boy who expresses his true self by dressing up and enjoying traditional girl things.” The inclusion of this resource was not subject to the school’s usually strict policy when it came to curriculum changes.
The five-year-old boy’s parents pushed for these “accommodations”. His father is a PhD candidate in educational psychology who researches “the creation and implementation of gender inclusive policies and practices in K–12 public schools,” according to his website, genderinclusiveschools.org. The child’s mother said she realised her son was gender non-conforming when he danced to the music of Beyoncé one day in front of the TV.
Understandably, other Nova parents were concerned. A close community, they had a variety of political views, but they still had concerns about whether providing an inclusive environment for a gender non-conforming student necessitated teaching issues of “gender identity” to children as young as five years old. But their legitimate questions were shouted down in an orchestrated attack by activists. According to Emily Zinos – a longtime Nova parent – LGBT activists “mobbed the meetings, brought their lawyers, protested, and compelled their sobbing transgender kids to talk about bullying and suicide attempts.”
Tom Lynn, parent of four Nova students, said anyone questioning the policy changes in the school were branded as “bigots”.
“We were ridiculed, mocked, and accused of hatefulness and ignorance, despite our doctoral degrees.”
The school hired a psychologist – and LGBTI activist – to lecture on transgender issues at a “parent education” night. Dissenting parents hired a lawyer to speak on the medical and legal aspects of transgenderism – but the school’s lawyer told the school board not to attend. Why? Because the mere presence of board members could be construed as bullying.
It was further reported that school officials argued that they were “legally obligated” to meet the parents’ demands under Minnesota’s 2014 anti-bullying law, called the Safe and Supportive Schools Act. Sound familiar?
Nova’s board of directors approved an interim “gender inclusion” policy in January 2016, which later became permanent. Under this policy, students can choose their own gender without medical approval. The school is required to work with transgender students to “create a tailored gender transition plan”.
Parents and students are leaving the school in droves, and children’s physical and mental health is at risk. Accusations of bullying, silencing freedom of speech, risks to children’s physical and mental health – these are all on the table when radical gender ideology is enforced in our schools.