A third-grade teacher in Glendel, who almost a year ago showed her students videos honoring gay pride, was forced out of the classroom for security reasons after receiving threats. a local section in the nation’s heated debate about what needs to be taught in schools about gender identity.
The conflict in Glendel United School District, a suburban school system in Los Angeles County with about 25,000 students, focuses on four short videos that the teacher has prepared to show her class. Three of the video explains the gay guide with songs and animation. One feature of Fr. a song called “Love This is love, ” with the message that parents and families come in different configurations and that the most important thing is the love between the guardian and the child. In another, “Children’s amazing things” a cheerful young narrator celebrates pride.
The video that caused the most controversy – and, according to some parents, exceeded the age limit – is “Conversation with the children about the month of honor.” It features an enthusiastic roundtable discussion with young children led by Canadian TV presenter Jesse Crookshank.
In a nearly three-minute video, Cruixen uses the terms “sexual diversity” and “coming out of the closet” and notes that in her youth, her fascination with actress Jodie Foster led her to question her own sexuality, especially after seeing Foster naked in the film. her words, watched several times. Children are happy to explain the possible benefits of having two parents of the same sex or becoming a “gay icon”.
Although it is unclear what videos were shown in the lessons, parents, teachers, students, activists and community members filled recent school board meetings – sometimes shouting or mocking – to express a deep opinion on whether gender identity lessons are appropriate. when and how. One day a member of the school board who supports such lessons came out during public comments.
Some speakers expressed moderate concern about the Cruickshank video. Others said that parents have the right to exclude their child from these lessons or that such discussions should only take place in the family and not at school.
But California law does not require prior notice and does not allow provisions on waiving the lessons of gender identity.
In support of such instructions of the state history-social the basics of the science curriculum says that students who are not gender-sensitive have suffered unfairly emotionally and academically for being different, and that all students have a “fundamental right to be respected and feel safe,” regardless of “sexual orientation or gender expression”.
The Glendale conflict unfolds when the teaching of gender identity in public schools joins other politically difficult, controversial debates, including on critical theory of race, socio-emotional learning and mandates for vaccines against COVID-19.
It also echoes the national controversy surrounding Fr. Florida’s new lawwhich critics call the “Don’t Tell Gays” bill, saying so marginalizes gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Florida law prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in a kindergarten class until the third grade. At least five other states have similar legislation approved or in the works. And at least 19 states restricted or balanced restrict children’s access to support for a person’s gender identity if it contradicts that person’s biological sex at birth.
In Glendel, one of the parents accused the teacher of holding a “sexual orientation class” with 8-year-old children. Another speaker asked why teachers use teaching time to promote “political and social agendas”.
Others expressed warm applause, with one mother praising teachers who “strive to create inclusive, supportive and safe conditions for all their students by teaching gender diversity in the classroom”.
Several teenagers who are gay or transgender were asked to accept them and continue such lessons.
“Please stop playing politics with my life,” one student repeatedly said during one minute of speaking time.
A few moments later, third-grade teacher Tammy Tyber, wearing a T-shirt with the words “Love Out Loud”, got up.
“I hoped to make my class a safe place and be able to teach my students to love and accept others despite their differences, even if some were taught not to approve or hate others who are different from them,” she said. Instead, “my life has turned upside down,” said Tiber, who has 34 years of teaching experience.. The criticism, she said, was similar to a “witch hunt against me.”
The Glendale area has made attempts to find out the facts to find out what happened. At last week’s meeting, the school board listened quietly – and imposed time limits – as both sides expressed their views. School Board President Naira Nahabedyan reminded people of the long public process of approving educational materials and the process of filing complaints for parents who object to the lesson.
Tiber’s transfer was not disciplinary, officials told The Times.
This episode has caused alarm among teachers ’unions. Representative of California Teachers Assn. said he was unaware of another case where the district had removed a teacher because of curriculum problems due to security concerns. The head of another union seriously described what was at stake.
Oral attacks and physical threats against teachers “pose a danger and harm to both teachers and students,” said Jeff Freitas, president of the CFT, a nationwide union that includes many K-12 teachers and colleges.
Karen Purdue, a district resident who spoke at a board meeting last week, dismissed such characteristics.
“I do not come here out of hatred,” she told the board. “I come here with love and ask for advice to listen to parents so that they do not impose on our children things that we do not want to discuss.”
The lesson took place towards the end of the 2021 school year, when Tyber taught students remotely from her home online, which was allowed at the stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody complained about the lesson then.
The furor erupted last month after Jordan Henry, a Glendel resident and city council candidate, received 1,300 pages of documents he requested last fall under treasury bills. Representatives of Glendale Unified said he requested emails about the standards and lessons of teaching social justice, restorative justice and anti-bias education.
Across the country are topics he was interested in became targets right-wing activists who view how they are included in public education as detrimental to the left, disrespectful to family and patriotic values, and trampling on parental rights.
Basically it was one exchange between Tiber and the district curriculum adviser posted on social media that caused a rift. Representatives of the school district checked the authenticity of the contents of the letters.
“Today I talked to my class about the month of LGBTQ pride and played 2 short videos from youtube that were aimed at children,” Tiber wrote on June 7, 2021. “A father who heard a lesson and a discussion forced his daughter to zoom out and texted me asking me when I had finished discussing sexual orientation so she could allow her children to return to augmentation. I planned to do more lessons tomorrow and Wednesday, but now I’m scared. Here are the videos and lessons I was going to do with my class. ”
Tiber then listed links to four videos. Within 30 minutes, Tyber received a response from Craig Lewis, a specialist in “restorative practices and positive behavior and support.” In part, he wrote, “Don’t worry and don’t be afraid.”
Lewis offered full support for the three videos. As for the Cruickshank video, he said that although a positive tone, it uses the word “sexy”, which may be for some “red flag”. He said Tyber should “reconsider” its use – not telling her not to.
Since Tiber taught students at Zoom, Alvin Pilayan’s father was able to watch the lessons. Pilayan said she remembers being shown a Cruickshank video, and added that she did not allow her daughter to watch it.
“We are upset by the curriculum that taught 8-year-olds,” Pilayan said in an interview. “We’re just saying it’s age-inappropriate, and this video wasn’t very educational.”
At the time, according to Pilayan, she had not contacted either the teacher or the principal about her problems.
The lessons of gay pride in the classroom were not at the center of Henry’s criticism in the comments he made at board meetings before the emails were released. He condemned the “Learning for Justice” lessons developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a longtime Alabama-based human rights organization. Henry linked these materials with critical race theory and other practices he finds unpleasant.
Henry would not agree to give an interview if he could not broadcast it live on his YouTube channel. Instead, The Times offered to allow him to make his own audio recording of the interview, but he refused.
Widely used SPLC materials are cited as a valuable learning resource California Department of Education. Tyber was one of 21 Glendale Unified teachers who piloted “Teaching for Justice,” whose goals include eliminating white supremacy and promoting “the human rights of all people”.
Through attorney Daniel Rojas, Tiber declined to comment on “what videos she shows students or doesn’t remember.” But Rojas added that “any videos that Temi showed to students would be approved by the county and age-appropriate.”
Rojas provided a voicemail recording with one threat received by Tiber.
“You guys are like the devil,” the interlocutor said in a message with obscene language on the Tibers answering machine. “You get what awaits you. … Someone will be near your house, I’m sure the crowd. “
According to a police report received by The Times, the call was later traced to a woman from Victorville who could be prosecuted.
Tiber has expressed concern about her safety in the area, especially because her school does not have a teacher’s parking lot, and teachers sometimes have to walk a quarter or two around the neighborhood to get to campus.
In response, her attorney said, “the county invited Themie on leave and inadvertently transferred her after she declined the invitation,” which was “punishable.”
In her brief comments at the council meeting, Tyber said: “My current third-graders and parents are left in the dark. When I was suddenly kicked out of class, my teacher was taken away from them for the last 33 days of school. In one message I received from a student, it was written: “Madam. Tiber, where are you? Nothing works. Please come back. Everyone misses you. “
Jefferson Elementary School father Sevana Dadanyan, who was sitting in the shadows after picking up her sophomore, said last week that she agreed with parents who are upset.
“If it was in my daughter’s class, I wouldn’t like it,” she said.
But Armin Sarikisyan, a fifth-grader’s father, says he believes Tyber was just trying to create an inclusive environment: “She was just a decent person. She had no bad intentions. ”
Times librarian Jen Arkand contributed to this report.