Parents, teachers, and officials in Albemarle County, Virginia, are circulating a radical petition calling for the board of Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) to bar parents from opting their children out of courses promoting Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender theory, arguing that allowing such an option would be at the “exclusion to families of color and to LGBTQIA+ students and families.”
As ACPS’s radical policies gain ground, concerned parents have been attempting to opt their children out of courses that they believe are “fundamentally racist,” and, in the case of gender theory, “should be left up to parents to teach their kids.” However, as Breitbart News reported:
[O]ne concerned parent … told Breitbart News that when she sought to opt her student out of CRT, [Joseph T. Henley Middle School] Principal Beth Costa initially said “you can choose not to have your child participate.” Despite this, “Diversity Resource Teacher” Chris Booz — who helps write the curricula for the entire county — immediately corrected Costa, saying the radical ideology “is going to be woven through in all of the classes in Albemarle County.”
Activists in the County are circulating a petition — which has, as of the time of writing, obtained more than 350 signatures, at least 47 of which are from ACPS teachers and administrators including Costa — in which they seek to force radical curricula on children whose parents have not consented.
Last week, Breitbart News exposed Albemarle County’s curriculum for racial indoctrination, which, at the time, was called “Courageous Conversations About Race” but is now simply called “Courageous Conversations.” In that investigation, Breitbart News shed light on the true intent behind the County’s “anti-racist” policy, reporting that the “policy is aimed at ‘building the racial consciousness’ by requiring children to deconstruct their racial and sexual identities and ‘understand that anti-racism is an action’ for which they have a ‘personal responsibility.'”
Exclusive — Critical Race Theory: Inside a Virginia County’s Curriculum for Racial Indoctrinationhttps://t.co/hNsNgqGiUo
— Breccan F. Thies (@BreccanFThies) June 3, 2021
Now, the threat of some parents seeking alternative options for their students has mobilized others in the County to seek sweeping parental regulations, barring them from making educational decisions for their own children. Indeed, as the petition states:
[P]arents of children in Albemarle County Public Schools should not be given the option to opt out of critical lessons such as Henley’s Courageous Conversations. Allowing families to opt out of lessons that make them uncomfortable would undermine the professional decision-making of your staff and send a powerful message of exclusion to families of color and to LGBTQIA+ students and families.
The petition further states that “To permit parents to opt out on the basis of religious beliefs that deny the existence of transgender and non-binary individuals would be a violation of the 2020 Virginia Values Act, which prevents discrimination against LGBTQIA+ individuals.”
Yet, in a statement on “equity education” from the County they say, “The Board values the diversity in our community and staff,” and that “Diversity includes diversity of thought, diversity of values, and diversity of perspectives.” The statement went on to say that the County seeks to “ensure … [a] school community that is inclusive of diversity in … family belief systems.”
According to the petitioners, however, “There is a common misconception that race, bias, and LGBTQIA+ topics must be relegated to … Family Life Education curriculum, so that parents may opt their children out of these conversations.”
The petition does not stop at this request, though, as it also seeks the “adoption and enforcement of the Policy on the Treatment of Transgender and Gender Expansive Students in Schools,” as modeled by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE):
For many transgender students, their daily emotional and psychosocial wellness are dependent on receiving support and recognition for their gender identity. A transgender student may adopt a name that is different from their legal name on their birth certificate and use pronouns reflective of their gender identity … School divisions should accept a student’s assertion of their gender identity without requiring any particular substantiating evidence, including diagnosis, treatment, or legal documents.
In the situation when parents or guardians of a minor student (under 18 years of age) do not agree with the student’s request to adopt a new name and pronouns, school divisions will need to determine whether to respect the student’s request, abide by the parent’s wishes to continue using the student’s legal name and sex assigned at birth, or develop an alternative that respects both the student and the parents.
The policy also calls for the school to “[assist] the family in developing solutions in their child’s best interest” and requires that “school staff should be prepared to support the safety and welfare of transgender students when their families are not affirming.”
But, as many parents explained to Breitbart News, they are concerned that the schools are “trying to become the parents. This is public school, they have no business saying, ‘well, what do you think you are?'”
Indeed, as Breitbart News previously reported:
One student told Breitbart News that “they asked if we liked the religion our parents chose for us,” and another concerned parent … said that “Questions are posed to question if they were truly born into the gender that their parents say they are? Do you want to change but are afraid? The question has also been posed if you have the same beliefs your parents have or are your beliefs different?” (Emphasis added).
In a letter obtained by Breitbart News to Henley Principal Beth Costa, one parent described the damage such curricula can do to children, referencing her son:
But we are realizing that his school is pointing out the skin color differences amongst him and his friend. And in doing so, perhaps risks planting an idea in his non-racist, 12-year-old brain that he is somehow more privileged and dominant because of his white skin. And perhaps this is causing the exact harm that we as a school, a community, and a nation should be trying to prevent.
What good comes from making a child feel ashamed of who they are – or might be?
I did not opt-in for my son to explore his sexual identity, nor his gender identity within a classroom setting. Nor did I opt-in for him to learn about all the ways he might want to change his identity to choose a different gender classification put forth by the curriculum.
Despite this, it is apparent that gender theory has already taken hold in Albemarle County, as one article in Henley’s school newspaper states, “Sometimes, people are born into a body that they don’t belong in. Whether they are born into a female body, but are actually a boy, or they are born a boy, but don’t feel that they fit with either binary gender, they are all very real and valid.”
At yet another Albemarle County school, a parent also detailed to Breitbart News that her daughter “was meeting with her teachers … and as she finished with her English teacher, she was replying to her and said, ‘yes ma’am.’ … [An ACPS] principal walked up to my daughter and said … you are not allowed to use ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes ma’am’ because it is identifying a gender.”
Furthermore, one of the primary organizers of the petition, Sarah K. Harris, a parent who describes herself on Twitter as “Mom … writer, seeker of hygge. Resister, Persister, Advocate + BLM Ally. Gun sense voter. Working towards equity & inclusion. She/Her,” appears to not want any part of the inclusion she purports to represent. Indeed, to her, parents who do not want their children viewing and judging their peers solely on the basis of race and gender are “haters,” and apparently “vitriol[ic].”
If you live in Albemarle County, sign this letter in support of an anti-racism and LGBTQIA-inclusive curriculum. Folks are pushing back against it & we need to show the ACPS School Board that the supporters outnumber the haters. #acps #edequity #pride https://t.co/93ss02bsqM
— sarah k harris (@skh4102) May 31, 2021
Parents who support an anti-racism and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum in @k12albemarle outnumber the haters. Don't let their vitriol fool you…we want #CourageousConversations in our classrooms. Thank you, @henleyhornets! Check out the SB mtg for more: https://t.co/JDG67hxjyt
— sarah k harris (@skh4102) May 28, 2021
Harris also called on the school board not to “whitewash or hetero-ize our curriculum!”
I'm updating signatures now and we're off to a good start today! Let's show @k12albemarle that this community WANTS inclusive classrooms where we are constantly striving for anti-racism and FULL LGBTQ-inclusion. Don't whitewash or hetero-ize our curriculum! #DontHateEducate https://t.co/HXaFygbTTX
— sarah k harris (@skh4102) June 2, 2021
The petition is set to be presented to the Albemarle County School Board at the next public meeting on June 10, 2021.
Some ACPS teachers and administrators who have signed the petition include: Beth Costa, Chad Ratliff, Karen Waters-Wicks, Sharon Webb, Vernon Liechti, Jen MacDonald, Cheryl Knight, Julie Stavitski, Am Gaertner, Amelia Bochain, Mary McLachlan, Beth Whitehouse, Vicki Hobson, Alana Fiano, Chris Bunin, Stephanie Passman, M. Johnson, Hailey Ballard, Cheryl Edgerton, Abbey Plein, Shannon Mound, Jenna Magistro, Elizabeth Bunin, Victoria Megginson, Lauren Caminati, Jill Williams, Melissa Brown, Alexa Bolden, Filadelfia Soto, Karen Fink, Steve Whitaker, Trace Carter, Jon Barber, Monica Laux, Jessa Lucia, Emily Holmstromy, Deanine Lilley, Jason Collier, Hannah Baran, Sarah Reyes, Carrie Rocket, Johnel Childress, Kristina Kilgallen-Collier, Kimberly Warnick, Ashley Seawell, Mary McIntyre, and Frances Racette.
[This story has been updated to clarify that the principal who admonished a child for using gendered language by saying “yes ma’am” was not Henley Principal Beth Costa, but another ACPS principal.]