When Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain called out a student Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club at Fugett Middle School as “leftist political indoctrination,” it sparked a reaction from both sides of the gender-identity debate.
McSwain saw a poster for the club, which meets during school hours while visiting the West Chester Area School District school and he blasted it on Facebook. He later deleted the post.
“Whether it is the hateful and racist critical race theory or the ‘deep social change related to racial, gender, and educational justice,’ training promoted by the GSA network, it is inappropriate for public schools to encourage the progressive social justice agenda,” said Rachel Tripp, McSwain’s campaign spokeswoman. “As governor, Bill McSwain will protect parents’ right to have their children educated free from political indoctrination of any sort, and will end the liberal brainwashing of children in Pennsylvania public schools.”
Some parents were unhappy with how McSwain handled the situation.
“I immediately was like — what is ‘this’? The lives of kids? Places where they can be themselves?” Steph Anderson, whose daughter is part of the club, told The Inquirer. “These are grown adults, these are politicians … who are attacking kids.” She said her daughter learned about the posts while at school and came home “really frustrated and concerned.”
One party activist who asked that his name not be used said, “Even though (McSwain) says he stands by his comments, he seemed to cave in the face of opposition from parents going after him on Facebook.”
Tripp said the message needed to be given in a different way where “liberal trolls” would not be able to mischaracterize it. She pointed out that a recent bill in Florida keeping sexual material out of kindergarten through third-grade classrooms was completely twisted on social media to become controversial when it should not be.
“It’s not about backing down,” she said. Tripp said that parents deserve a school where “children are not indoctrinated.”
Many parents have been complaining about the schools teaching children Critical Race Theory and other Marxist-inspired ideas. McSwain promises if he is elected governor he would root out such dogma.
Anita Edgarian, a WCASD parent said, “It is not acceptable if these clubs are meeting during school hours. This is an extra curriculum activity and should not take time from the education time.”
“We need leaders who will take all sorts of propaganda out of the schools and concentrate on education. Our kids suffered plenty with school shutdowns and lack of online learning,” she said.
Meanwhile, a Chester County resident also saw the GSA poster and alerted the Delaware Valley Journal.
“I did some research on the GSA and was stunned with what I saw. I then sent the following email to Superintendent Bob Sokolowski and Equity Director Dawn Mader,” he said. He was also concerned that the GSA club met during school hours. And when he checked out the GSA website he saw posters with Marxist imagery with “the clenched fist is a symbol that originated during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and continued to be used in propaganda posters during the Soviet era.”
He also cited the GSA club’s platform:
“We, the National TRUTH Council of 2017-18, draft this document in the radical tradition of creating manifests in order to define our revolution and achieve liberation. The manifesto was inspired by and builds upon the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program, the Young Lord’s 12 Point Program and Platform, and the Third World Gay Revolution.
“We demand abolition! Abolition of the police, abolition of borders and ICE, abolition of the current punishment-based justice system. We demand for our communities to be empowered to take care of themselves, for no borders, for rehabilitation and healing justice. Abolition is a process that we are committed to fight for.
“We Call for an End of the Cisgender Heterosexual Patriarchy.
“We recognize that the current state of the world centralizes the stories of White cisgender heterosexual men. We call for the end of a social structure that separates or determines the value of people on gender expectations from historical Europe. We demand that queer and/or TGNC people no longer be oppressed by these frameworks, institutions, and their enablers.
“We Call for an end to global white supremacy.
“We call for the end of this racist system that profits off of the devaluing of Black people, Indigenous people, and all other people of color. We believe in exposing the history of global white supremacy and its discriminatory practices.”
The resident concluded his letter by saying, “All of this brings me to one overarching question: Why are regular school hours being provided for a Marxist-inspired, anti-capitalist, and anti-American group, with a manifesto that contains revolutionary language and expresses hostility for the police, American capitalism, and straight White people?”
However, Molly Schwemler, a spokesperson for the school district said the local club is not part of the larger group.
“While the GSA club at Fugett Middle School is a student-run club that offers a space for LGBTQ+ and allied youth, it is not affiliated or registered as a club within the larger organization of a similar name, the GSA Network,” she said.