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Radnor Parents File Police Report Over ‘Gender Queer’ in High School Library

On Sunday, Mike Lake, along with the support of some other Radnor Township School District parents, filed a police report about the controversial book “Gender Queer,” which is available in Radnor High School’s library.

As reported last spring, “Gender Queer” is a “graphic biography of a young female who wants to be male but must figure out how to incorporate her female body into that fantasy.”

Parents throughout the Delaware Valley region have objected to these age-inappropriate books in schools. Fenicia Redman, a Malvern mom, has been at the forefront of this issue and has given her testimony before the Pennsylvania State Senate floor, as well as filing a lawsuit against the Great Valley School District.

Radnor is not the only school district that has issued this book. Central Bucks, Downingtown, Great Valley, and West Chester Area school districts are among others in the DelVal region to have these books available in their taxpayer-funded school libraries.

“Porn is porn, child porn is child porn, regardless of whether it is a picture, cartoon, or anime. A minor is a minor regardless of their sexual identity,” said Lake, who has two daughters attend Radnor. “The commonwealth has laws defining child pornography, and there are Federal laws prohibiting the distribution to minors. The librarian knows my daughter from before high school and knows she is not an 18-year-old freshman.”

This issue has been trending for a while, as many Radnor parents expressed their outrage about inappropriate books in a school board meeting last year.

Mike Lake uses the intercom to summon an officer, while other parents look on.

In response to this backlash, RTSD created a small group for these controversial books in question. While “Gender Queer” was under review, the decision was split.  Superintendent Ken Batchelor cast the deciding vote to keep it.

While this was a last resort option for going to the police station to file this complaint, Lake knew that being accompanied by other parents would help send a message on the seriousness of this issue.

“I knew this situation had to be addressed because it’s our children, not their children,” Lake said. “One of the reasons we came to Radnor was because of the quality education, and to have this sexually explicit content available to our kids in the school library is unacceptable.”

Another parent in attendance who has children who graduated from Radnor but wants to help address the situation is Amanda Castilleja. While her son graduated in 2018 and her daughter in 2020, Castilleja has seen a drastic change in what the school district now allows to be exposed to its students.

“Since 2005, I’ve had my kids attend this school district, and it has been horrible what has transpired since then,” Castilleja said. “We’ve been clear that we don’t want to ban books, but we want to ban those that contain sexually explicit content and make sure our voices are heard.”

Asked to comment by DVJournal, RTSD spokeswoman Theji Brennan said, “The Radnor Township School District welcomes and values parent engagement in conversations regarding programs, policies and procedures.  If parents have any concerns about materials, they should reach out to their child’s teacher or principal.   Policy 144.1 in our district policy manual provides guidance on the selection of library resources and a procedure for citizens to request a reconsideration of library materials.”

This filed complaint will now go to Radnor’s lieutenant’s office as they, along with other detectives in the department will investigate it.

“It’s vital that we continue to be aggressive and keep pressing on this issue until we see changes made,” Lake said.

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Mastriano’s New ‘Hard to Watch” Ad Targets Parents

Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano is hoping a groundswell of angry parents will sweep him over the finish line.

Mastriano has seized on the issue of the sexualization of public school children and centered a new digital ad “Hard to Watch” on it, using events in schools in Montgomery and Chester Counties to illustrate the problem. He said it is a disturbing trend that his Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro supports.

The Mastriano video includes a Delaware Valley Journal article about obscene books in school libraries. And it mentions a lawsuit filed in court by Malvern mother Fenicia Redman to get those books removed from the Great Valley High School library. Her son is a student at that school.

Asked to comment about the ad, Redman told Delaware Valley Journal, “Sen. Mastriano and Pennsylvania parents see the extremist government actors who’ve held our children hostage and robbed them of their innocence. We’re coming to free our children!”

The ad also mentions a Montgomery County kindergarten class where children were required to read books about transsexuals because one student identified as their non-biological gender. That incident came from an anonymous tip to the senator’s office.

 

Republican political consultant Charlie O’Neill said, “The issues Mastriano is talking about in this ad are definitely issues he can win. But this ad is way too long to have an impact. Across the nation, parental rights have had a major impact on elections. If Mastriano is able to harness that energy in places like the Philadelphia suburbs it could be the boost he needs. However, the election is rapidly approaching, so his campaign better hope it’s not too late.”

For example, the parental rights issue was a big reason Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia after the Democrat famously said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

The Shapiro campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

However, in a television interview Shapiro said that when Mastriano calls for restricting classroom content it contradicts his campaign pitch of freedom. “Walk as free people,” is one of Mastriano’s slogans.

“It’s not freedom when they tell our children what books they can read,” Shapiro said.

As Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Shapiro filed an amicus brief opposing Virginia’s moves to ban biological boys from using girls’ restrooms in schools.

Another parent who is a Mastriano supporter, Jamie Cohen Walker, said she supports him because he will keep the schools open. Children have been harmed by mandatory school closures, losing out on learning and becoming lonely and isolated.

“We knew that keeping kids out of school would harm them, so we fought, and we fought extremely hard because the Democratic politicians and their allies, the teachers union, made us their enemy,” Walker said.

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DelVal Parents Press State Senate for Bill to Codify Their Rights

For Bucks County parents Megan Brock and Jamie Cohen Walker, Tuesday’s state Senate committee hearing on parent’s rights was not an abstract political conversation. It was about real life for their kids, who had been locked out of classrooms during the COVID-19 crisis under false pretenses.

Brock and Walker were part of a parent-led effort to force Bucks County into revealing why it ignored the recommendations of its own county Health Director  Dr. David Damsker who recommended in-person learning. Emails overriding his decision were authored by a Democratic operative with “no training or experience in public health” rather than Damsker, Brock said.

“Instead of answering our questions, our Bucks County commissioners used their positions to call us liars, conspiracy theorists, and accuse us of playing politics,” said Brock. “If that wasn’t bad enough, after we won access to public records through the appeals process in Harrisburg, Bucks County commissioners refused to comply. Instead (they) filed a total of five lawsuits. Five.

“They are using taxpayer dollars to sue us so they can publicly withhold records, which they have been ordered to provide. We are being abused by our government for simply being concerned parents who asked questions.”

They were at the hearing for Senate Bill 996, sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), which would have Pennsylvania join 15 other states in establishing a parents’ bill of rights.

Alex Nester of Parents Defending Education spoke about the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District court case that revealed the content of Critical Race Theory (CRT) training given to teachers. The district had told parents they “did not have a right to review” that material.

“Parents know what’s best for their children,” Nester said. “It is both their right and responsibility to care for them.”

Committee minority chair Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) called the hearing “a clown show” and one-sided, alleging Democrats weren’t allowed to call witnesses. Committee chair Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill) responded that Democrats were asked if they wanted witnesses but did not respond.

Street said when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision integrated public schools, many White parents did not want their children going to school with Black children. Studies showed that Black children had lower self-esteem because of discrimination.

The proposed law “does more bad than good and should not move forward,” Street said.

“Parental rights are still under attack in Pennsylvania,” Brock said during her testimony. Two weeks ago, the ACLU filed a federal complaint against Central Bucks School District alleging discrimination against LGBQ students because the district instructed teachers to obtain parental consent before using students’ preferred pronouns. Some teachers say they will not comply and will keep hiding student information from parents.

“I’ve always taught my children to never to keep secrets from me,” she said. Keeping secrets from parents is a warning sign of grooming by sexual abusers, she claimed. “This is dangerous, and it needs to be stopped.”

The ACLU argues for teachers to use gender-affirming care without knowing if children are being treated for sexual dysphoria. And psychiatrists say 70 percent of gender dysphoria resolves by the end of adolescence, she said.

“As a mother I find it extremely alarming that our attorney general, Josh Shapiro, wants to ban children suffering from gender dysphoria from receiving any alternative treatment other than gender-affirming care. How can anyone force parents to a care model that gives children highly invasive, irreversible, fertility-ending treatment when there are less invasive options? It is truly the ultimate attack on parental rights.”

Malvern mother Fenicia Redman spoke about obscene books at the Great Valley High School. In August Redman filed a federal lawsuit to get those books out of school libraries. The obscene books, including “Gender Queer,” “Fun House” and “Lawn Boy,” are available in school libraries throughout the state.

Redman also took posters with enlarged pictures from the books to the state capitol to protest. While there, a capitol police officer told her to put some of them away since children might see them, she said.

She read federal statutes that say distribution of pictures of children performing sex acts is illegal and sections from the book “Push” that was extremely graphic description of incest until committee chair Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill) told her they heard enough.

Argall said his father had been a school librarian.

“I can’t imagine in any way he’d allow those books in the school library,” he said.

Pediatrician Dr. Chaminie Wheeler spoke about parents bonding with their babies. She told the committee it is normal for adolescents to question their identities.

“Who loves that child more? Their parents or their teachers?” Wheeler asked. The state Department of Education is coming between the relationship of parents and children, she said.

Questioned by Street about curriculum to prevent bullying, Wheeler said it was better to focus on people’s similarities rather than on their differences.

Mastriano thanked those who testified for “for your courage standing against powerful forces, even the government.”

“Speaking truth to power. That’s what we heard here today,” said Mastriano. “We’re in an environment where evil is called good and good is called evil. Where it seems like parents are co-parenting with the government and that’s just not the way it should be…Now, more than ever, it’s important that citizens rise up and stand for their children and their families.”

The Josh Shapiro gubernatorial campaign released a statement calling the hearings a “waste of time and taxpayers’ dollars.”

Brock and Walker said they have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars fighting for parents’ rights. For that, they have been labeled “domestic terrorists” and called “libelous” names in newspapers.

“It should not be this hard,” said Brock. “It should not take this much effort for parents to exercise their fundamental right of being their child’s advocate, protector, counselor and provider.”

 

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Muth Rebuked After Calling Supporters of Parents’ Rights Bill ‘Homophobic’

In a heated debate over school books containing graphic language and images of sexual conduct, Delaware Valley state Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery) was reprimanded after calling supporters of these protections “homophobic.”

The bill, requiring parental notice when instructional materials and books containing sexually explicit material are being taught, passed the Senate Wednesday in a party-line vote. A second bill prohibiting teachers from speaking to very young children about sexual identity also passed the Senate. Both bills were sponsored by Sens. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster)

“This legislation opens up a harmful window of unnecessary litigation,” said Muth, who voted against both bills. “They will be very costly to our school districts, school districts that are already under-funded, school districts that have had to pay out millions and millions of dollars to charter schools.” The bills include no funding for increased costs for litigation or insurance, she said.

But it was when she accused the bill’s backers of being bigots that she was called out by leadership. Sen. President Pro Tempore Jake Corman rebuked Muth and she recanted her name-calling.

Groups of concerned parents have complained to their legislators after discovering that library books such as “Gender Queer,” with many explicit passages, were in school libraries and available to children as young as middle school students.

Delaware Valley parents have complained to several local school boards about these books, including Great Valley and West Chester Area, but they were rebuffed.

“I believe this Senate bill is an excellent start to address the problem of sexually explicit materials in the schools,” said Bruce Chambers, a former Great Valley School Board president. “This issue was brought to the forefront by Fenecia Redman at Great Valley School Board meetings, but the school board would not even address the issue. In fact, when she showed the graphic material to the school board, they told her to take it down, and then left the room like cowards when she refused. Apparently, the school board didn’t see the irony in avoiding the material that was readily available to all the students in the library.”

Chambers added, “You can view an example of this online on the TikTok site for the Great Valley High School library. The second selection on the front page is ’10 Sweet Queer Graphic Novels.’ When you select it, you can see those Queer Novels featured by the librarian. This is the type of material that is currently up front and in the face of Great Valley students and should come under the legislation proposed by the Pennsylvania Senate.”

Redman also led a group of parents to the capitol last week to protest the books. The parents displayed enlarged posters of illustrations from some of those books, causing a capitol police officer to tell them to take their display down since children might be present.

Senate Bill 1277 would require schools to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content. Senate Bill 1278 would prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students, consistent with the timeline for when the existing academic standards on general sex education begin in sixth grade.

“A school district in Chester County instructing elementary school teachers to withhold information from parents about children questioning their gender; a teacher reporting that a Philadelphia school was permitting volunteers to talk to elementary school students about LGBTQ issues without parental knowledge; and mothers of first-grade students in Allegheny County suing their school district for teaching about gender dysphoria without parental knowledge or consent – these are just a small sample of the dozens of complaints we’ve received from concerned parents around the commonwealth,” said Sens. Martin and Aument. “While we may not agree on what moral, ideological, and religious values to teach or not to teach our children, we can certainly agree that it should be up to the parent to decide – not the government.”

For some examples of sexually explicit content found in Pennsylvania school libraries and curricula, readers can, at their own discretion, review the dedicated webpage here, which contains blurred copies of the original materials.

The bills will be taken up by the House.

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GOP Bill Would Stop Schools From Leaving Parents in the Dark Over Child’s Gender Actions

Some Delaware Valley parents and teachers have raised the alarm over school districts that require teachers and guidance counselors to keep it secret from parents when students take steps to change their gender while at school.

In addition to disclosing to parents when their children request to be treated as a member of the opposite gender, Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1278 would also stop schools from talking to students in pre-K through fifth grade about sexual orientation and gender identity. For sixth grade through high school, it would be in an age-appropriate manner.

State Sen. Scott Martin (R-Strasburg), chair of the education committee and a sponsor of the bill said, “Sen. (Ryan) Aument (R-Lititz) and I introduced the Empowering Families in Education Act after receiving many contacts from parents around the commonwealth about age-inappropriate discussions that were taking place in school. It is my belief that young children should not have conversations about gender identity or sexual orientation while at school.

“I understand that some of these conversations occur organically and are a result of student engagement. But some are intentional, led by the teacher and without the consent of the parents, and sometimes without the school district even knowing,” Martin said. “We have provided just some examples on our websites, including classroom presentations to first graders about gender dysphoria or another example related to gender transitioning videos, all without parental consent, and in some cases, not even known by the school districts.

“There are even cases of school administrators instructing teachers not to communicate things with the parents, even though there was no legitimate reason to not do so. This is wrong, and our legislation will prevent that from occurring,” he added.

“In addition, the current state standards don’t call for any type of sex education until at least 6th grade,” Martin said.  “As it relates to providing critical exemptions to parental notification requirements, this can only be done if it can be reasonably demonstrated that doing so would result in abuse or abandonment of a minor and allows parents to take legal action against a school district that fails to comply with these requirements.”

Also, parents should be notified if their children are receiving special services, he added.

After a whistleblower teacher in the Great Valley School District spoke to Delaware Valley Journal about not being allowed to talk to parents about their children assuming a different gender in school, parents complained to the school board.

Bruce Chambers, a former GVSB president, says he thinks the bill has a loophole that would let school officials continue with secrecy for transgender students.

“The loophole in the bill is the same ‘excuse’ that the school district staff has used in the past,” Chambers said. “They believe they should protect the child from possible mistreatment or abuse by keeping the information from the parents.  That has always been the reason they have adopted the secrecy policy. However, it is a bogus excuse.”

School personnel are already required to report abuse under the law.

If that clause is in the bill, “It will give the school district employees a loophole to continue with the secret meetings and continue to hide information from parents,” Chambers said.

Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-West Chester), also on the education committee, opposes the bill as “a distraction from the real issues facing public education in Pennsylvania, including adequate funding for schools and students who continue to deal with the impacts of the pandemic.”

The bill had been pulled once before, she said.

“Across the nation, there is an organized and ongoing effort to stigmatize the LGBTQ community, including LGBTQ youth and students, through similar bills,” Comitta said. “The governor has already indicated that he plans to veto this type of discriminatory legislation. As we approach the budget deadline, it is time to prioritize the real issues at stake instead of divisive and partisan-driven rhetoric. With more than $2 billion in federal American Rescue Plan and a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus on hand. We have a golden opportunity to make positive change in the lives of students and families. That’s what we should be focused on.”

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