Springfield Public Schools Training Infused with Critical Race Theory, including ‘Gender Unicorn’ Sexuality Exercise and Racial ‘Bead Color Breakdown’


Springfield Public Schools in Missouri has been ratcheted with controversy over training infused with critical race theory. At Parents Defending Education, we studied the training and include them here so parents can be informed about how ideas of critical race theory trickle down into “professional development.”

Fall 2020: ‘Induction Equity Training’

In fall 2020, Springfield Public Schools in Missouri hosted a presentation, “Induction Equity Training Fall 2020,” with buzzwords from the teachings of critical race theory, including “micro aggressions,” “implicit bias,” the contrast between “impact” and “intent”

It included material in slide No. 29 from Southern Poverty Law Center’s Tolerance.org website, including recommended responses to microaggressions, including saying, “Ouch!”

The contacts for presenters were: Yvania Garcia-Pusateri, chief equity and diversity officer at Springfield Missouri Public Schools; Lawrence Anderson and Jimi Sode.

Winter 2020: ‘The Gender Unicorn’

In winter 2020, Yvania Garcia-Pusateri, chief equity and diversity officer at Springfield Missouri Public Schools, led a presentation, “Senior Leadership Series – Equity & Access Winter 2020.” She took her position in the school district in September 2019, according to her LinkedIn account.

The other presenters were Lawrence Anderson, manager of diversity and equity at Springfield Public Schools, according to his LinkedIn profile, and Brian Vega, a counselor with an outside company, Counseling Solutions of the Ozarks LLC, based in Springfield, Missouri.

According to his online profile, Vega’s specialties include: the “LGBTQ community,” “all couples needing relationship help, including open/non-monogamous/poly-amorous couples,” “individuals questioning/exploring their sense of gender and sexuality” and “ethnic, religious, and other minorities.”

The presentation included a discussion of “The Gender Unicorn” and “polyamorous” relationships, one of the counselor’s specialties. The slide’s credit read “Graphic by TSER,” with the acronym in large font and its explanation in fine print, “Trans Student Educational Resources.”

“The Gender Unicorn” explanation by Trans Student Educational Resources notes:

You may recognize this graphic as similar to The Genderbread Person. We created this graphic with significant changes to more accurately portray the distinction between gender, sex assigned at birth, and sexuality. Ultimately, we wanted to recognize genders outside of the western gender binary, which the Genderbread Person does not. Not all trans people exist on a scale of womanhood and manhood. There are several other issues with this graphic such as the use of the inaccurate term “biological sex,” the use of “asex” (which fails to recognize that everyone has sex characteristics prescribed to them), and several other issues with terminology and presentation.

December 2020 – “Bead Color Breakdown”

On Dec. 8, 2020, Springfield Public Schools hosted an English Language Teaching “Growth Activity” that included eight slides with a “Bead Color Breakdown” of people by race. It was meant as a closer on a deeper lesson about “Anti-Racism and White Supremacy,” so teachers could “direct it back to their own exploration of identity and self.”

“Based on WHO they choose to spend time with,” the instructions noted, “ELT members should reflect on what that means for their Anti-Racism work and how they plan to address White Supremacy personally and professionally.”

Ultimately, the kinesthetic learning was meant to drive home the fundamental teachings of the ideology of critical race theory that dictate that society be viewed through a lens of race, “Anti-Racism” and “White Supremacy.”

Here are the instructions:

Slide 1 — Title Slide — “ELT Growth Activity,” on Dec. 8, 2020, “Identity and Community.”

Slide 2 — “Purpose”

  • “This closing activity for the fall semester will bring together what ELT has learned about Anti-Racism and White Supremacy and direct it back to their own exploration of identity and self. Based on WHO they choose to spend time with, ELT members should reflect on what that means for their Anti-Racism work and how they plan to address White Supremacy personally and professionally.”

Slide 3 — “Overview of Activity”

  • “ELT will participate in an activity where they will explore WHO is in their community and WHO they choose to spend time with. While it is important to understand how you navigate your own identity within your environments, it is vital to understand how your identity is shifted by WHO you choose to surround yourself with.”
  • “ELT members will be given pipe cleaners and a multitude of different color beads. They will be asked a series of questions based on WHO is in their community and WHO they choose to spend time with. ELT members will select different color beads which will represent different identities to answer the questions.”

Slide 4 — “Bead Color Breakdown”

  • “Black Beads – Individuals that identify as Black and or African American”
  • “Brown Beads – Individuals that identify as Latinx (Latino/Hispanic)”
  • “White Beads – Individuals that identify as White”
  • “Blue Beads – Individuals that identify as Native and or Indigenous”
  • “Red Beads – Individuals that identify as Asian and or Asian American”
  • “Purple Beads – Individuals that identify as Middle Eastern and or Arab”
  • “Orange Beads – Individuals that identify as Biracial or Multiracial”

Slide 5 — “Questions” — “Once you have an answer to the question, please select a bead that best represents the individual and or community that matches with your answer:”

  • “1. I live in a neighborhood where the majority of my neighbors racially identify as….”
  • “2. My dentist racially identifies as…”
  • “3. When I was in high school, the majority of my teachers racially identified as…”
  • “4. In my place of worship, the leader racially identifies as (if this does not apply to you, skip)”
  • “5. My spouse and or partner racially identifies as….”

Slide 6 — “Questions Continued”

  • “6. My supervisor racially identifies as…”
  • “7. My primary doctor racially identifies as…”
  • “8. I frequent restaurants where the majority of patrons racially identify as…”
  • “9. I have worked in places where the majority of staff racially identify as…”
  • “10. The majority of people I supervise racially identify as…”
  • “11. The majority of my close friends racially identify as…”
  • “12. The majority of books I read are by authors who racially identify as…”
  • “13. The majority of my mentors racially identify as….”

Slide 7 — “Shoulder Partner Share” — “Find the closest person to you and share how your pipe cleaner and your beads turned out and discuss the following questions:”

  • “What is the majority color on your pipe cleaner? How does that make you feel?”
  • “Were you surprised by this outcome? Why or Why not?”
  • “Why do you think this color is represented on your pipe cleaner?”
  • “Do you think the colors represented on your pipe cleaner are an outcome of choice or environment, or both? Explain”

Slide 8 — “Large Group Share” – “ELT Members will all individually share their pipe cleaners and what color of bead is represented:”

  • “Individuals will share how it felt for them personally to select their bead colors and how they feel now with the outcome of their selection.”
  • “Individuals will share if they are surprised by the outcome of their selection, explain why or why not”
  • “Individuals will share if they think the outcome of their bead selection is an outcome of personal choice or environment (or both).”

Slide 9 — “Closing Discussion”

  • “How might this activity help you better address Anti-Racism and White Supremacy?
  • “Do you now have strategies to expand your community so that the colors on your pipe cleaner may diversify?”