Parents in several Delaware Valley school districts have complained about their children being exposed to a “woke” gender agenda and explicitly sexual books and materials in their classrooms.
Now critics are pointing to materials from the state Department of Education under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that appear to make it look like a top-down effort.
For example, the DOE website lists genders as “ne, ve, ze/zie and xe,” as well as “he/him, she/her” that they label “traditional.”
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, called out the Wolf administration and is touting bills he’s introduced to empower parents and end these programs.
“Once again, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration skirts the legislative process to implement a far-left agenda behind the backs of the 13 million Pennsylvanians,” Mastriano said in a statement. “These guidelines encourage school districts to proselytize radical ideas about gender identity to children in all grades, all under the guise of school safety.
“The department touts the left’s twisted vernacular as objective fact, while the governor’s Democratic allies demonize parents as too bigoted to teach their own children about these sensitive topics,” Mastriano said. “We can teach kids to be tolerant, accepting, and kind to others – no matter what – without indoctrinating an entire generation.”
Mastriano said he stands behind several Senate-led bills to prioritize and empower parental involvement in our public education system, alert families about explicit material available in school libraries and limit formal conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation to middle and high school curriculum only.
He also introduced legislation earlier this year to establish a Parental Bill of Rights. It would give families statutory rights to “direct the upbringing of their children free from bureaucratic overreach,” the release said.
“Our schools need to focus on closing the learning gaps that worsened as a result of the governor’s ill-advised pandemic school closures, not forcing elementary-age children to engage in inappropriate conversations about gender identity,” Mastriano said. “It is up to parents, not the state, to engage with their children on these complex social issues and I will never stop fighting for their right to do so.”
Casey Smith, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, defended the gender policy. “The children who attend our schools represent the diverse backgrounds and cultures of our commonwealth, and that includes Pennsylvanians with various gender identities and expression. It is incumbent upon us to support all learners and make them all feel welcome in their schools and communities.
“The Wolf administration supports equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts in every school, and one way we can better serve our learners is by providing resources so that schools can support students who come from all walks of life.”
Fenicia Redman, a parent with a son in the Great Valley School District, told DVJournal she believes there is an intentional effort to influence children with an extreme ideology. “There are wolves among our children masquerading as Granny. I’ll see them soon in federal court.” Redman said she plans to sue the district over sexually explicit books found in school libraries.
Jim Jacobs, who took his son out of the West Chester Area School District because of a gay pride celebration at Stetson Middle School that encouraged boys to wear dresses, agrees this is not education.
“I know teachers who tell me personally – in private – they hate this garbage and agenda. But they want to retain their jobs,” Jacobs said. “Everyone I have spoken to, regardless of political party, has a huge issue with this being taught, but they’re afraid of standing up because of repercussions and being canceled. These are our youth coaches, shop owners, and just everyday working Americans who want to live their lives and educate their kids. Its indoctrination on top of indoctrination- how does this get passed to be taught to our children without parents being involved?
“Yes, it’s important to be tolerant and accepting of different religious beliefs and sexual preferences- but introducing this in school for kindergarten, middle school, and high school? Insanity,” said Jacobs.
The Central Bucks School Board voted last week to keep graphic books out of elementary and middle school libraries.
A campaign spokesman for Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democrat running for governor, did not respond when asked whether Shapiro would keep the Wolf administration policies in place.