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McSwain’s Criticism of WCASD ‘Gender-Sexuality’ School Club Sparks Backlash

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.

From the GSA website

“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.

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Radnor Ditches Mask Mandate

The Centers for Disease Control on Friday lifted mask mandates across the country, depending on factors such as the number of cases in an area.

But Radnor parents were way ahead of them. Many came to a school board meeting last week to demand the mask requirements be lifted.  After a lengthy meeting the board agreed.

Many residents cited recent graphs to build their case for moving to an optional masking policy in schools.

“The final graph compares the Radnor School infection rates under the mask mandate to four other school districts that are mask optional. The curves are practically identical. I don’t see a correlation between mask-wearing and transmission rate. The scientific evidence that masking is doing any significant amount of good is disappearing,” one woman said to applause.

While the debate over how best to respond to the pandemic is framed as political, Radnor citizens had little to say about politics on Monday night. “…I think that our children have endured the most. These moments are real for them. What’s becoming a normal life for them is not what any of us know as normal,” said Dave Falcone, a parent and former school board member.

A few children and teenagers voiced their thoughts. Still submitted written testimony on the matter. Student Cackie Martin asked, “Do you know how much less frequently students participate… when they have to raise their voice to the level of a yell just to be heard by teachers in their plexiglass cage? Tonight I stand here begging you for oxygen for my classmates and I and I’m just begging to see a friendly smile in the hallways of the high school,” she concluded to a standing ovation.

Many speakers took a strictly scientific approach. Resident Chris Vail cited a variety of studies, including ones from the CDC, WHO, Annals of Internal Medicine, and PLOS1 in his argument for a mask-optional policy. “The fact is we spent two years arguing about whether or not we were following the science— and the science for face masks has never been there. It’s time we stop the madness, we admit that we were wrong, we admit our mistakes and we let the kids breathe freely, finally. As they deserve.”

Christina Heinzer summarized 65 studies that all concluded masks have damaging health consequences. She enumerated the side effects that could be linked to mask use from increases in blood carbon dioxide, heart and respiratory rates to decreases in cardiopulmonary capacity, heart issues, exhaustion, as well as emotional issues, headaches, and dental issues.

While many of the evening’s speakers were sympathetic to how difficult these safety decisions can be for commissioners, none spoke in favor of a mandatory mask policy. Even the commissioners lamented how challenging it had been to preside over the previous decisions made on the matter.

“We don’t take this lightly. This has been the most daunting thing I will ever do in my life— and I raised three children,” said School Board President Susan Stern. In a unanimous vote, the board decided to move the district into a mask-optional phase.


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West Chester Area School District Promises Policy Review After Political Survey Distributed Schoolwide

The West Chester Area School District on Monday said it would review its policies after controversy arose about a schoolwide survey in which high school students were asked about the politics and news-consumption habits of their homelife.

“WCASD is aware of questions regarding a high school student’s survey,” the district said in an email to Broad + Liberty from its communication director as well as in a Twitter thread.

“The survey being shared was created as part of a student’s advanced placement project and intended only to assist with the student’s research. All AP surveys are completely voluntary and anonymous. Once District administration became aware of concerns due to the political nature of the survey, it was reviewed, taken down, and any previously recorded responses were deleted. WCASD is examining its procedures regarding the distribution of surveys to students and taking necessary steps to ensure that future student research projects and distribution occur in a fashion consistent with Board policy.”

The promise for a policy review comes after Broad + Liberty published a story Friday afternoon about the survey which had become a controversy in social media in previous days.

The survey asked students at Bayard Rustin High School how their parents were believed to have voted in the last election, as well as what sources of news the student’s parents relied on the most. Students were asked whether their parents were liberal (“believe in…equality) or conservative (“resists change”).

After the original story, Broad + Liberty also obtained a screenshot copy of an email allegedly sent by the school principal that distributed the survey to all students at Bayard Rustin. The district, however, did not directly confirm or deny the provenance of the email when asked, and instead only produced the above statement.

That email asked students to complete the survey, mentioned that it was in support of a student Advanced Placement Capstone project, but did not specifically inform students that they could opt out.

One person who responded on Twitter to the district’s statement suggested that a review of the survey is first needed, at a minimum.

“Any true (as defined by the HHS 45 CFR 46) research conducted with humans as participants should go through an Institutional Review Board, does the district have one, or an IRB they utilize?”

Other instances show that districts often go to significant lengths to notify parents of when students will be surveyed.

For example, the Penns Manor district in Indiana County sent out a press release to news outlets in late January to let parents know a questionnaire would be distributed asking students “how they feel about themselves as a learner and how they feel about school.”

The press release also provided contact information for parents with concerns or questions to reach out to the district.

Screenshots of the survey in WCASD reportedly first were circulated on Facebook, a claim which Broad + Liberty has yet to confirm.

But other screenshots were circulated on Twitter by the account “Libs of Tik Tok” which has more than 545,000 followers. That tweet was sent on Thursday, two days after the survey was distributed.



That tweet from LibsofTikTok had already racked up thousands of likes and retweets by the time Broad + Liberty published on Friday.

This article fire appeared in Broad and Liberty.