An elementary school in Connecticut is requiring its students to engage in its "Social Justice Lesson Standards," which includes transgender content being exposed to children as early as kindergarten.
Parents of students attending West Hartford Public Schools contacted nonprofit parent group Parents Defending Education about the material, and expressed concern over it being used by the district to push group identities through books about transgenderism that are included in the curriculum.
District officials informed parents that they will not be allowed to opt out of the curriculum.
One parent was particularly disturbed by a book taught to fourth graders entitled, "When Aidan Became a Brother," which the parent described as "full on gender theory" that teaches students their biological sex is "wrong."
"When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl’s room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing," the book's description reads. "After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of his life that didn’t fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life."
The description goes on to say that, when Aidan’s parents announce that they are having a second child, Aidan "wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning" including selecting the "perfect name" and picking out the right clothes. The book asks what "making things right" actually means.
Another fourth-grade title is about pronouns, called "They She HE Me; Free to Be!"
Meanwhile, kindergarteners are taught about a text entitled, "Introducing Teddy," which tells the story of the character's teddy bear explaining their wishes to change from a boy teddy bear to a girl teddy bear.
"One sunny day, Errol finds that Thomas is sad, even when they are playing in their favorite ways, the description reads. "Errol can't figure out why, until Thomas finally tells Errol what the teddy has been afraid to say: 'In my heart, I've always known that I'm a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.' And Errol says, 'I don't care if you're a girl teddy or a boy teddy! What matters is that you are my friend.'"
Books about crossdressing and avoiding the use of pronouns are taught to elementary school students.
The district’s director of equity advancement, Roszena Haskins, wrote in an email to parents that the schools have "redoubled district-wide efforts to attend to the social and emotional needs of children and adults."
The email explains that the "social justice standards" stem from the framework of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.
Haskins points out that "CASEL acknowledges that ‘While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can help schools to promote understanding, examine biases, reflect on and address the impact of racism…close opportunity gaps and create a more inclusive school community.'"
"Essentially, SEL provides students with understandings and skills that they need to increase their social consciousness and act in ways that foster respect, empathy, fairness, and universal humanity," the email continues. "SEL instruction sits at the cross-section of prosocial education that fosters safe, positive, inclusive, equitable and supportive learning environments."
Haskins adds that the school district teaches SEL through an "equity lens, adapted from the Learning for Justice social justice and anti-bias framework."