Thursday 22 June 2023

Idaho School Board Member Suggests Teachers Must Be Able To Discuss Gender Identity Or Kids Won’t Learn Math

 An Idaho school board member suggested that if teachers are not permitted to discuss gender identity with students, children may not be able to learn math, reading, or writing.

On Monday, the Nampa School District just west of Boise voted to adopt a policy banning discussion of gender identity, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and gender expression in all grades.

School board trustee Mandy Simpson was the sole board member to vote against the policy in the three-to-one vote.

“My biggest problem, and the most sleep I’ve lost over this, is this idea that our teachers can’t survey our students,” Simpson said during the board meeting.

“I know from firsthand experience that if kids don’t feel safe in a classroom, they will not even begin to try to learn the reading, the writing, the math,” said Simpson, who is a math teacher in the neighboring Boise School District.

“It does silence people,” Simpson said of the policy. “We do need a policy that respects parent involvement and parents’ decision-making — I agree. I actually don’t think this does it.”

Simpson added that “religion should not come into play” in the school board’s decisions.

“It’s about the morals and health of the pupils, not my morals, not anyone else’s morals, but the morals of the pupils that are in our buildings,” Simpson said.


Other board members disagreed.

“I don’t want you to discuss my child’s sexuality unless I know you and I are on the same page. Sorry, I just don’t,” board chair Brook Taylor said.

“When you ask a 5-year-old their pronouns, this has happened, you are challenging that family through their child, and that is the school district challenging that family’s core beliefs because these are core beliefs,” Taylor said. “I want to preserve our rights to have all of our individual beliefs, and to me this policy does that.”

Board member Marco Valle said, “if I was to say ‘what is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life’ when I die, I would say number one: I raised a good family and I tried to do good. Number two: I passed this policy.”

Valle called the policy “so neutral,” and said it’s “not stopping the kids,” it’s “stopping the district.”

The new Nampa schools policy states that the school board recognizes the “rights of parents, guardians, and caregivers to discuss, address, and educate their child on every subject matter, especially the non-academic subject matters not addressed in the District.”

The policy also prevents staff from being forced to use a student’s new pronouns and requires students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their biological sex.

The policy came about because of a controversial high school psychology class that included discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation, according to a student. The class sparked debate at an April school board meeting, and the policy was first considered by the board in May.

In response to concerns about students who may not have a supportive family environment, Superintendent Gregg Russell said those students should be referred to a school counselor.

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