On June 2, 2022, KIPP Public Schools posted on Twitter that a teacher at KIPP SoCal Public Schools “identifies as a ‘proud queer Asian-Latinx educator’ and often teaches his 5-year-olds about the complexities of intersectionality.” KIPP Public Schools explains on its website that the organization “is a network of 270 public charter schools with nearly 10,000 educators and more than 160,000 students and alumni.” KIPP SoCal Public Schools claims on its website to operate “23 tuition-free, open-enrollment charter public schools, within 19 Local Education Agencies, educating more than 9,500 students and supporting 5,100 alumni to and through college” in the Los Angeles area.
The tweet links to a blog on the KIPP Public Schools website that was originally published on June 11, 2021. The blog is written by the teacher Kris Sanchez who provides an example of a conversation held in class: “So you’re telling me, boy bunnies can marry other boy bunnies?” The teacher explains that “I have been at KIPP Comienza Community Prep since 2016 and am a proud queer Asian-Latinx educator.” Kris Sanchez brags in the blog about reading a book “with queer characters to young children.” The teacher claims to have been inspired by the Human Rights Campaign and Learning for Justice’s Social Justice Standards.
The Human Rights Campaign is a political organization that advocates for corporations and schools to adopt LGBTQ issues in their businesses and curricula. The organization has a history of working with schools, teachers unions, and the federal government to push LGBTQ activism into the nation’s education system. The organization has a “Welcoming Schools” program with the purpose of providing “LGBTQ+ and gender inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, booklists and resources specifically designed for educators and youth-serving professionals.”
Learning for Justice is a known political organization that has pushed for its “Social Justice Standards” to be adopted in schools throughout the country. The document for these standards includes goals to achieve for students. One goal is that “students will develop language and historical and cultural knowledge that affirm and accurately describe their membership in multiple identity groups.” Another goal appears to outright state that the purpose of the “Social Justice Standards” is to turn students into political activists: “Students will make principled decisions about when and how to take a stand against bias and injustice in their everyday lives and will do so despite negative peer or group pressure.”
The teacher Kris Sanchez then states in his KIPP blog: “The way I walk through this world as a person of color cannot be talked about unless I include my cis male queer identity. If this is what I truly believe, shouldn’t I take this approach with my students?” He then praised his performance of reading the book to students by stating that he “gave quite an award-winning performance.” He states:
When the book was over, I asked students questions that I believed were open-ended enough to spark great discussion and provide not only a window into this identity but a mirror into their own. “How is the family in the book the same as your family?” The conversation was as heartfelt as you could imagine from 5-year-olds, but the real tear-jerkers came from the second discussion we had.
The book he claimed to read to students was A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. The book appears to mock former Vice President Mike Pence and his family for their beliefs on LGBTQ issues. Amazon describes the book as about “a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny.” The description of the book further explains: “Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon’s life is about to change forever.”
The book appears to serve as a parody to a children’s book titled Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President. Former Vice President Pence’s daughter Charlotte Pence Bond wrote the book to teach children about the duties of the vice president. “Marlon Bundo” was former Vice President Pence’s pet rabbit while in office.
Kris Sanchez continues to explain in his blog that “talking about loving relationships between adults is in fact, highly developmentally appropriate.” He states that “it is highly validating for those students who may grow up to hold these identities in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning/queer, intersex, agender/asexual/ally, and other non heterosexual community (LGBTQIA+).” He then explains that a teacher needed to read a similar book to him when he was a child: “I think back to my own schooling and reflect on how impactful it would have been for just one teacher to read a book that validated my queer identity.”
KIPP Public Schools explains at the end of the blog that Kris Sanchez “is a 5th-year Kindergarten teacher at KIPP Comienza Community Prep, Los Angeles CA.” He has even “mentored new teachers through Teach for America and KIPP SoCal’s Alder Mentor program” and “leads teachers and staff in professional development strands in LGBTQIA+ topics.”
On June 11, 2021, KIPP SoCal Public Schools posted an article written by Kris Sanchez titled “Why I Teach My Kids About Queer Identity and You Can Too.” The article is exactly the same as the blog published by the national KIPP Public Schools organization.
Kris Sanchez’s Instagram account appears to show that he is a political activist outside of teaching kindergartners. His bio lists his pronouns as “he/him/his” with the description “queer educator.” His Instagram bio also links to his article on the KIPP SoCal Public Schools website. In one Instagram post, he states that he “set a goal to start building my library with Queer literature” and that “growing up, schools never had any Queer lit or books where I saw my identity represented and so I decided to make my own syllabus.” In order for him “to read any book this year,” the book must “be written by a Queer author,” “have a named Queer protagonist (not just the comedic relief or the sidekick),” or “feature moments of Queer/ Quare history.”
In another Instagram post, he promotes his article that was published by KIPP Public Schools. He explains: “This #pride, read my first published article about how kids are never too young to learn about the Queer experience.“
In one Instagram post, Kris Sanchez appears to post an image of himself at a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the movement to “defund the police.” In the image, he holds up a sign referencing his “kindergartners.” He states in the post: “The black and brown kids of this country deserve better and LONGER futures. Tu lucha es mi lucha.” He also has “#blacklivesmatter,” “#defundpolice,” and “#defundlapd” in reference to defunding the Los Angeles Police Department.
On June 1, 2022, KIPP Public Schools posted a message in support of “Pride Month” on Twitter. KIPP Public Schools stated: “Happy #PrideMonth! Whether you teach or learn with us, we’re proud to celebrate and support every person, every purpose, and every passion. Help us celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community by learning about the history of #PrideMonth and its intersectional roots.” The tweet then linked to a blog on the KIPP Public Schools website that was published June 23, 2020.
In the blog, KIPP Public Schools states that “a nod to the history of Pride and the uprising of the queer community against police brutality should be elevated.” The organization further states in the blog: “In the past few months, we’ve seen an elevation of voices speaking out against racism, systemic injustice, and police brutality. This, indeed, is all of our responsibility. And in this month – in celebration of PRIDE – let’s be reminded there can be no pride if it is not intersectional.”
The blog then lists resources that include “5 Podcasts at the Intersection of Pride Month and the Black Lives Matter Movement” from The New York Times and a link to the organization GLSEN that promotes changing the curriculum in schools to include LGBTQ activist issues. Additional resources include a link to the article “How a March for Black Trans Lives Became a Huge Event” from The New York Times and a link to the article “11 students explain what being queer, black, and proud means to them” from the LGBTQ organization GLAAD.
GLSEN is an organization known for promoting LGBTQ issues to young children. GLSEN states on its website that “while many LGBTQ+-inclusive school supports begin in middle or high school, it is critical for elementary schools to establish a foundation of respect and understanding for all people.” The organization has also appeared to show support for children taking “hormone replacement therapy” to transition to another gender:
Upon birth, we are typically categorized into one of two genders (boy or girl) depending on how our genitals are read. Throughout our lives, however, our many bodily characteristics work together to create a unique path of development, causing some of us to grow really tall, and others to remain short, or some of us to grow hair under our armpits and legs, while others remain bare. While this development often happens on its own during puberty, this change can also be administered through medicine, such as hormone replacement therapy. Since our society often conflates our bodies (or genitalia) with our gender identity, it is critical that we allow space for people to self-identify.