Parents concerned about trans student’s puberty ed choice
Superintendent: ‘Our protocol for that situation is to follow the law’
A viral post by a Cassville Intermediate School parent has led to concerns about transgender student attending a puberty education class opposite of the student’s assigned gender at birth.
The post on Facebook, which was originally public and has been changed to private, has nearly 600 comments and more than 100 shares. In the post, the parent references a Cassville Intermediate School student who identifies as the opposite gender and wished to attend that gender’s “Always Changing and Growing Up” program, sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, which the district has used in the intermediate level for more than 30 years.
The parent claimed the inclusion of the transgender student would make her child unnecessarily more uncomfortable, and that the only option was for her child to opt out or keep the child home.
The district does offer the program in a one-on-one capacity with the nurse, which the parent said is the solution for the transgender student, rather than allowing that student to attend the class of his or her gender identity.
Merlyn Johnson, Cassville superintendent, said the program is taught by the school nurse and Principal Jeff Swadley.
“They talk to the boys and to the girls about grade-level appropriate things like bodily changes and hygiene,” Johnson said. “They have a brief conversation — about 15 minutes — then give the students the opportunity to ask questions by writing them on a piece of paper so they may be read anonymously.”
Johnson said when it comes to gender identity, the district is bound by the law on what it may and may not do.
“Our protocol for that situation is to follow the law,” he said. “We don’t discriminate against any student based on race, disability, sex or any other way. We treat all children fairly and equally, and we don’t single kids out.
“If a parent has a complaint or concern, we listen to it. We understand individuals may not like how society is changing and how the laws are changing. As a school district, we do not react to any political narrative. Our focus is on education, the safety of the students and following the law.”
With student safety in mind, the district’s policy is to not share any personally identifying information about any student.
Johnson said the district has not experienced any disruptions in puberty or sex education classes at any level, and any parents that do not wish for their child to be exposed to the material or topic may opt out. The district also sends home correspondence to parents to inform them what will be taught and allow for an opt out if the parent chooses.
“As a school district, we just follow the law,” Johnson said. “This is not a Cassville-specific issue. It is the norm everywhere.”