A concerned community member reached out to Parents Defending Education regarding an email that was sent to staff in the North Kansas City School District on October 2, 2023. The email came from the district’s assistant superintendent of compliance and support services. The assistant superintendent provided a list of resources for October curated by the district’s “Equity Advocates” to honor specific groups during the month, including for “LGBTQ History Month.” The assistant superintendent stated the importance of “social identity” in the email:
As always, it is important to recognize that— whether it is directly discussed or indirectly inferred—social identity is a critical component of our heritage month exploration. We are discussing topics that will likely reference the lived experiences of our students and colleagues.
The concerned community member then provided PDE with a resource package that was included with the email. This document includes resources and lesson plans for students as young as kindergarten for “LGBTQ History Month.” The lesson plan for students in kindergarten through the second grade is titled “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress.” The lesson has students learn about a boy who “likes to play in the dress-up center where he likes to wear a tangerine-colored dress.”
The lesson plan for students in the third grade through the fifth grade is titled “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag.” The lesson teaches students about LGBTQ politician Harvey Milk and the designer of the pride flag. The lesson states that “Harvey Milk was a visionary who wanted equal rights for everyone, including LGBTQ+ individuals.”
The lesson plan for students in the sixth grade through eighth grade is titled “LGBTQ History Icons Exploration Lesson.” This lesson has students learn about famous politicians and celebrities simply because they are LGBT and then create projects on one of these people to share with other students.
The lesson plan for students in the eleventh grade through the twelfth grade is from the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s OUT for Safe Schools program. The goal of the lesson plan is to teach students that LGBTQ issues are part of civil rights and compares LGBTQ issues to other issues such as desegregation for African Americans.
Additional resources include an article series on “KC Black Queer History,” a podcast from the organization Learning for Justice on implementing “LGBTQ History in the Classroom,” a podcast on “how to support gender-creative children,” a page of “LGBTQ history resources” from the organization GLSEN, a link to the organization Kansas City Center for Inclusion, and a link to an organization called “Transformations.” The organization Transformations states that it “seeks to address the complex web of intersectional systems of power and oppression facing trans women of color, including colorism, anti-Blackness, immigration status, sexism, and trans misogyny that we face both in mainstream society as well as specifically within majority white, queer community spaces.”
The organization GLSEN is 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.
Learning for Justice is an 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.”