WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — West Hartford parents are debating over gender identity in the classroom.
It seems West Hartford parents at a board meeting can at least agree on one thing: creating a safe environment in school for gay and transgender students. However, the debate is over what exactly that looks like and when it should come into play in curriculum.
A portion of “social emotional learning” or SEL curriculum, launched in-district this year, and books are meant to teach tolerance among kindergarten through fifth grade students.
Parents sounded-off this week over concern it could do more harm than good.
“The first book my kids will read when they get to elementary school is a book about a transgender teddy bear that changes its sex,” a parent identified as Graham said. “That want to change sex, to me, that’s too strong of a subject that I’d like to discuss with my kids when they’re ready.”
Graham went on to say that parents “should reserve the right to have input about content that is provocative,” noting that the subject is controversial.
Some parents said they would like the ability to opt-out of SEL curriculum.
One parent and former product of the school system, Natalie Wagner, said a lack of tolerance is what led her to feel unwelcomed as a little girl. She now appreciates books on gender identity.
“I didn’t know why at the time… what it was that made me feel a lack of connection,” Wagner said. “I think it was a lack of understanding, a lack of visibility, a lack of language within my community about something I was struggling with.”
Parents are continuing to push for a public forum on this issue.