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A Ventura School District Grapples With Whether To Teach Gender Diversity




School districts around the country are implementing gender diversity education into their curriculum.
School districts around the country are implementing gender diversity education into their curriculum.
/LA Johnson/NPR

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Last week, Oak Park Unified School District announced that elementary and kindergarten students would start receiving annual lessons in gender diversity for the first time this October. 

The program tailors the curriculum to specific grade levels, and usually draws on children’s books to explain concepts, like the gender spectrum and non-conformity. In the first grade book, for example, a crayon is labelled blue when it’s actually red. Oak Park Superintendent Tony Knight says lessons like these are necessary to support non-binary and transgender children in the district. 

But some parents aren’t happy. The Ventura County Star reports that parents want a choice to opt out of the classes. Superintendent Tony Knight says the district has tried to be transparent through the development of the program by releasing the upcoming lesson dates. 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland has been requiring similar lessons for years. San Francisco schools have also recently introduced their own LGBT curriculum for grade school students.

Do you think elementary and kindergarten students should learn about gender diversity in school? Share your thoughts on AirTalk.

Guests:

Tony Knight, Ed D, superintendent of Oak Park Unified School District in Ventura County

Wendy Leung, reporter with Ventura County Star newspaper; has been covering Oak Park Unified School District; she tweets @Leung__Wendy

Matthew McReynolds, senior staff attorney at Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento-based legal defense organization specializing in religious and civil liberties



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