Parents concerned about what’s being taught in diversity and inclusion programming

District: program focuses on anti-bullying and respect for all
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 12:33 AM EDT
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ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WOIO) - Parents in Rocky River City School District are concerned about what may be taught in the diversity and inclusion programming being offered in schools.

The district says it’s expanding the programming to be offered to younger students. Parents sent a letter to the school superintendent and school board, citing their concerns about a lack of transparency. There is also a petition with more than 100 signatures.

The district has partnered with the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio since 2013, offering justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) programming.

Some parents say they’re concerned the content is not appropriate.

“If a child says to you we came up to you saying we came up with different pronouns in a Spanish class for people who didn’t know if they were a boy or a girl because they’re being taught the theory that there are more than 2 sexes, there may be 100 sexes, it depends on how you feel that day. That’s equating to parents going; what are you talking about? and what is being taught?” said Mary Frances Weir-Hansen.

In a statement to 19 News, the Rocky River City School District says the programming focuses on anti-bullying, conflict resolution, and recognizing the value of self-esteem. It also says the goal is to teach students the importance of respect, equality, diversity, and inclusion for all.

“We’re all for diversity and having everybody be kind and understand each other in this world, but it seems to be a lot deeper than that, and parents are having a concern that there’s no transparency,” said Weir-Hansen.

An outline of the JEDI programming is on the District’s website here. It lays out the lesson plan for ‘Diversity 101’ for 3rd graders, and the programming for 7th graders focuses on rethinking labels.

“Parents want to know the specifics of what’s being taught to these children, and what’s on their website is not at all specific,” added Weir-Hansen.

The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio tells 19 News some of their team members present the information for the upper-grade levels and a teacher is always present. For younger students, a teacher presents the lessons.

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