Community packs Superior School Board meeting to discuss gender identity in curriculum

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 10:59 PM CDT
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SUPERIOR, WI. (CBS 3 Duluth) - Superior parents packed the room, spilling down the hallway Monday night to discuss part of a fifth grade curriculum that teaches gender identity.

Superior Superintendent Amy Starzecki said she hadn’t seen a school board meeting so packed since mask mandates started.

This time, it was all about a part of the district’s fifth grade human growth and development curriculum.

Back in April, a group of about 20 parents from five of the six elementary schools in Superior filed a complaint about two videos and a slide show that discuss gender identity.

After being tasked with assembling a committee made up of teachers, counselors and administrators to review the complaint, Superintendent Starzecki recommended the school board keep the gender identity material in the curriculum.

She said parents do have the option to opt their children out of the lesson if they disagree with the content.

After hearing her recommendation, the parents who filed the complaint appealed to the school board for review.

Monday night, the school board heard from the public.

Those opposed say they would like it to be an opt-in lesson.

However, the majority of people who spoke tonight supported keeping the curriculum as is, including Mayor Jim Paine.

“What I’m asking of you tonight is don’t let them down,” said Mayor Paine. “Do the work for them that they’re asking of you because I promise you they won’t let you down, so on their behalf I’m asking you to reject this petition tonight.”

A teacher at the meeting also supported keeping the curriculum, or even making it more progressive.

“My pronouns are they/them/theirs,” they said. “I am graduate of both Cathedral and Superior Senior High Schools, and I am not a danger to your children because I am a queer educator. I am a health and english teacher. I went to school to receive this education.”

However, a handful of folks at the meeting were opposed.

“I just feel like a lot of people like me aren’t getting heard,” said one parent. “I do believe that it’s all children, and I think that means even kids that are in families that have different views than this one. I feel like if we have to teach what people believe in order to respect and love them and be kind them, then we have a lot of teaching to do.”

The official complaint asks the school board make this unit an opt-in lesson rather than opt-out.

Monday night, the school board was just determining how they would review the complaint.

They decided they will have another meeting in which those who filed the complaint and the committee who supported the curriculum will have time to discuss the matter before the board.

It’s unclear whether there will be opportunity for public comment.

They haven’t yet decided on a date.

We’ll keep following this story.

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