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School Board President Challenges Concerned Flagstaff Parents to ‘Bring It On’

School officials in Flagstaff, Arizona, should be working with parents, not pitting themselves against them.
Grant Atkinson
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Empty Classroom with wooden desks

Across the country, public school districts have increasingly been pushing gender ideology onto children, often without informing parents or asking for their consent. In Flagstaff, Arizona, school officials have considered implementing lessons that instruct students as young as 10 years old to adopt gender ideology in conflict with biological reality. And when parents raised their concerns, they were promptly shut down by the district.

Gender ideology starting in elementary school

In a meeting that was open to the public, officials at Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) discussed potential changes to the district’s Social/Sexual Health Curriculum for students in fifth grade. During the discussion, Coconino County Public Health Educator Sydney Tolchinsky suggested that girls are not the only ones who have periods and that educators should keep this in mind when teaching sexual health lessons.

“In my own experience in the smaller charter schools and county schools, we have actually stopped doing anything different [in] the boys’ room and the girls’ room,” Tolchinsky said. “Because Arizona still wants ‘two rooms,’ we tell them to go where they’re comfortable, and we teach the same lesson in both rooms because there are boys with periods, [and] there are girls who will not get periods.”

FUSD Assistant Superintendent Lance Huffman, who was leading the meeting, raised no concerns about this lie. When FUSD Health Services Coordinator McKenzie Bevirt expressed support for removing the language of “boy” and “girl” in the lessons, Huffman seemingly agreed and suggested using “people,” then called women “people with a uterus.” The one school official who expressed concern about the potential changes was told not to let her “personal feelings” affect her decision-making.

The meeting was not the only forum in which FUSD promoted gender ideology. According to the Daily Signal, flyers advertising a “Name Change Clinic” were posted on the websites of Flagstaff High School—and even FUSD’s DeMiguel Elementary School.  

School districts must listen to parents

Parents were understandably concerned about these changes. Flagstaff Unified School District encourages parents to attend Governing Board meetings to share their comments, and according to the Daily Signal, that’s exactly what many parents did.  

But instead of listening to parents’ concerns, Board President Christine Fredericks reportedly shrugged them off. She told parents she would “never apologize for being inclusive,” and when one concerned father said he could invite more parents to the next board meeting, Fredericks told him to “bring it on,” the Daily Signal reported.

“By making these changes without the full participation and input from the parents, who are the primary caregivers and educators of the children, those making these recommendations and decisions are excluding the parents,” one father of elementary and high school students in Flagstaff told the outlet.

This father is right: parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their children. School officials should be working alongside parents to help children be successful, not taking a combative stance and flouting parents’ wishes.

Alliance Defending Freedom is working to protect parental rights in education, and we’ve seen success in stopping school policies that hide information from parents or ignore parents’ instructions regarding their children’s care. In Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine School District, for example, ADF and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty secured a court ruling prohibiting schools from using biologically incorrect pronouns for students without parental consent or over a parent’s express directions.

And in Kansas, the Geary County School District revoked a policy requiring teachers to lie to parents about their children following an ADF lawsuit.

Parental rights are fundamental, and ADF is committed to ensuring that school officials cannot violate them without being held accountable. School districts across the country must recognize that parents have the right and responsibility to raise their own children.

While some schools have needed the courts to remind them about the importance of parental rights, FUSD now has an opportunity to listen to parents and shape its curriculum accordingly. The district should respect parental rights. Committing to working with parents—not against them—would be a step in the right direction.

Grant Atkinson serves as Jr. Digital Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom
Grant Atkinson
Digital Writer
Grant serves as a Digital Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom.