A New York health teacher could possibly lose her job after inviting a lecturer to present on gender identity to her students.
The teacher, Ms. Jacqueline Hall of Cambridge Central High School in Albany, invited a guest from local LGBTQ advocacy group, the Pride Center of the Capital Region. As part of the presentation, students were given handouts of definitions related to LGBTQ relationships and identities, and were reportedly told they would be tested on it, according to NBC News.
It was more of this handout and less of the presentation that elicited outcry from the families of Cambridge Central.
“This is something that you should be teaching your own kid,” Sirell Fiel, the father of one of Ms. Hall’s seventh grade students, said in a Facebook live video following the incident. “I don’t believe in the school having to teach our kids about this stuff.”
This “stuff” included common street jargon, slang, and sexual positions that the school district believed to be appropriate for the middle schoolers, according to Superintendent of Schools Vincent Canini. However, phrases like “bottom,” which the Pride Center described as “a person who is said to take a more submissive role during sexual interactions,” are what Fiel and other Cambridge Central parents grew concern over.
“This is something my 11-year-old definitely does not need to know...,” Fiel said. “I understand there’s gays [and] there’s straights, but I don’t need it being brought into a classroom, to where we pay our tax dollars for you to teach stuff to my kids years before they should even know about this stuff.”
Superintendent Canini defended the decision, writing in an email to NBC, “The District teaches gender identity and many other health topics to its students as required by the New York State Education Department. The District has no issue with doing so and believes it is appropriate to do so to encourage diversity and acceptance among students and our community... but to also ensure that the materials used to do so are age appropriate to the students involved.”
Many, including Eliza Byard, the Executive Director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, believe it is essential for students of this age to receive medically accurate, LGBTQ-inclusive health and sex education to not only “demystify these topics and terms,” but also to chance and save many students’ lives.