Pronoun survey angers parents

Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

Thirty to 40 parents contacted someone at Weston County School District No. 1 after a Newcastle High School teacher gave students a “pronoun survey,” according to discussion at the district’s Sept. 7 board meeting. Chairwoman Tina Chick reported to those who objected to the document, which asked students what pronoun they wanted to use, that the issue had been addressed. 

Details about personnel issues are protected under Wyoming’s open meeting laws, so specific details on the teacher and situational specifics were not included in the discussion. 

A Sept. 2 memo from Superintendent Brad LaCroix and the board of trustees addressed the situation, outlining expectations for district employees moving forward. 

“Considering recent events, the WCSD No. 1 Board of Trustees would like to provide all staff with clear expectations moving forward. All staff members will address students using their given names and information which can be accessed on PowerSchool unless specifically directed otherwise by the student and their parent(s) or guardians(s),” the memo says. 

“Our priority is and will continue to be students learning the content that teachers were hired to teach.
The Board of Trustees expects all classrooms and all activities to be safe places for all students,” the memo continues. 

The documents note that any specific questions can and should be addressed to a school administrator or supervisor. 

The memo highlights the main concern expressed by parents who attended the Sept. 7 board meeting. 

“We all know each other and want what’s best for the kids. There is a sacred trust between schools and parents. We (parents) can be your worst adversaries or your greatest allies,” Paul Bau told the board. 

Bau and others stood against the “indoctrination” of kids and the need to allow the parents to be parents while the teachers and school officials educate. 

“There is no education value to a political agenda and Mr. LaCroix agreed,” parent Gillian Sears said. “It should not be accepted. It won’t help the students understand the curriculum better.” 

She noted that it does provide an opportunity for alienation, individuals being targeted, disrupted classes and a slew of potential issues from students who want to use individualized pronouns and those who refuse to call someone by those pronouns. 

The parents and other concerned community members all shared a similar sentiment, requesting that the topics of sex, gender and other ideology be left out of the classroom and to the parents and guardians. 

Stanley Jasinski, a concerned citizen without children in the district, referenced comments from the Aug. 31 conversation regarding safety concerns in the schools during the district’s board meeting. 

“I heard them (students) called ‘my babies’ and ‘my children,’” he objected. “They are your students. Kids are sent here so teachers can educate students. I see a risky mentality.” 

He added that it is admirable that those teachers care enough about their students to protect them but that they are not being paid to protect them. They are being paid to teach them reading, math and science. 

Chick assured the parents and other residents that the situation is the first of its kind in the Newcastle school district, and that the district is addressing the concerns in the appropriate way. 

Bau asked that the school have a more open line of communication with parents and guardians in similar situations. He noted that after expressing their concerns, parents were never informed that the issue was being addressed.

“It would have been handy for all the concerned parents. You guys (the district) saying it had been handled,” he said, adding that the parents might not have attended the Sept. 7 meeting to address the topic publicly.

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