Conejo School Board meeting “civil” despite community divide on early sex ed

By Michael Hernandez

THOUSAND OAKS—Transgender parents who defended the Conejo Valley Unified School District move toward providing early sex education in grades K-5 were outnumbered almost 2:1 by opponents but both sides kept “civil” and “respectful” despite the apparent community divide.  Also in attendance at the board meeting was a local law enforcement officer.

The parent of a transgender kindergartner (purposely not identified by the Citizens Journal) said, “Our son has blossomed.  We feel very fortunate and that was not always the case.  Educating parents and teachers is a crucial component.  This is not a choice or lifestyle for kids like ours. “

Pamela Lopez speaking on behalf of a friend’s child who said:  “I am not a girl.” (So) “we looked toward what could help him and we followed his lead.  We waited and watched.” After buying boy’s not girl’s clothing, “my little one said, I love this Mommy.  This is me…We fully embraced him.”

A third speaker asked the district to bring in a consultant like Todd Walker (who had spoken to local parents about gender diversity) to a future board meeting.  

Comments made by opponents of transgender sex education:

  • Objected to Positive Prevention Plus for graphic illustrations. “Religious youth are a protected class in California.”
  • “I get to teach the moral standards to my child…Let them be kids and just teach the basics.”
  • “Your challenging how I parent based on hundreds of years of ancestry.”
  • “You can discourage bullying without alienating children through mandatory indoctrination that pushes a political agenda not fueled by caring. When we speak of parent rights we’re met with insults.  Keep a focus on teaching kindness.  Gender is not an issue.”
  • “Our children are being indoctrinated. Your duty to kids is not to confuse them, not to indoctrinate.”
  • “We have .7 percent transgender kids. (How about) the other 99 percent?”

“We make decisions based on information we have at the time,” said Supt. Mark McLaughlin in regards to Conejo Valley Unified School District beginning to offer comprehensive sex education to elementary school students.   But “we reach out when we have students in our community asking for help.  This changes our direction.   The district is going to support families.

“I don’t know what the solution is?   I will work with my Cabinet and will work with parents to meet the needs of students.   We have parent groups on both sides of the issue.  

“My number one job is to provide support.  I take my job seriously.  I need to make adjustments.  We will   work with community members to bring resolution to a divide in our community.  But my number one priority is how I can support our students and families.”

 

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].


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