SPEARFISH — Administrators at Spearfish School have an open-door policy for any parent or community member who wishes to discuss the school district’s curriculum or materials related to sex education, school board members said during of their regular meeting.
During their April meeting, Spearfish community member Bill Nachatilo addressed the board with concerns about the district’s sex-ed curriculum. Specifically, Nachatilo referred to recent national stories about young children in other states, where school officials encouraged students to be transgender, without informing parents. Nachatilo cited cases in Clay County, Florida, and Spreckels, California, where teachers and counselors allegedly encouraged students to consider becoming transgender.
“The California Teachers Association criticized the actions taken by the mother saying that schools have a responsibility to protect the gender identity and sexual orientation of students, even to hide them from parents if that is the wish of the child. student,” Nachatilo said in one of his examples. “I would like to get a sense of your thoughts as leaders in our community who lead our public education program. My apprehension was heightened when I researched which schools have instituted national sex education standards in public schools and how some school districts are using them and the impact on young people. Nachatilo was referring to the National Standards for Sex Education, which aims to provide guidance on the best ways to provide sex education to students in grades K-12. Among its standards, the guidelines state: “The process of youth development often involves the experimentation with many different identities, forms of expression and behaviors, and sexual identity is not exempt from this type of exploration. As sexual development progresses, most young people will come to identify with a gender identity and sexual orientation, although some will not. No one else is qualified to label or judge another person’s sexual identity, including their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it is important that the language and terms that young people use to identify are respected by the adults in their lives. Adults, including educators and administrators, should respect and use the pronouns each student uses for themselves. »
Other parents and community members also expressed the same concerns.
Nachatilo added that according to recent information, 20% of students consider or proclaim that they are homosexual, compared to 2% in 2000.
“It’s a concern to me that we have such a number of increases in just 22 years,” he said. “I just wanted our school board administration to be aware of some of these incidents. The question I ask myself is whether there are any safeguards against these possibilities.
The Spearfish School District has not adopted the National Standards for Sex Education. Instead, Spearfish School Superintendent Kirk Easton said the district follows state health education standards, which do not specifically address the issue of gender identity. Rather, state standards provide a more general framework for comprehensive health education that includes healthy decision-making based on physical, social, cultural, and environmental factors.
Easton assured Nachatilo and other community members in the audience of his open-door policy to speak about any concerns about school-related issues. Misty Caldwell, chair of the Spearfish School Board, said she has always found district administrators receptive to parents’ concerns.
“My experience with the school board spans a dozen years in two different time periods,” she said. “I have the utmost respect and belief in our administration that if issues are brought to their attention by constituents, taxpayers, parents, they are addressed and we are notified as appropriate. So I think we have some really great people in place.
Council member Nathan Hoogshagen said the school district has a policy that allows voters and parents to challenge the curriculum, and there is precedent for parents changing the curriculum or materials by expressing concern to the administration. He cited some parents who expressed concern about certain novels being taught to sophomores and juniors, and the subsequent removal of such materials from schools, as an example.
“I met the majority of this group of people who are here tonight in a few different meetings,” he said. “I want our students to get a good, healthy education here at Spearfish. I don’t think big government and big school systems are going to fix the problems we’re seeing tonight. In fact, I think that’s a big part of that. the problem. I think the majority of our time on this issue would be better spent praying for our family units, and that we have strong families where conversations about homosexuality, gender identity, sexual preferences, everything it can take place around the dinner table and not in the classroom. I think that’s where the majority of these issues are addressed. I’m glad to see that there are so many committed people who are willing to showing up for a board meeting on a Monday night If you have specific instances where you have first-hand knowledge of something going on and you have concerns, the directors’ doors are open.
“If you are a parent with a specific problem, we ask that you always go to the educator first and try to solve it there,” Hoogshagen continued. “If it can’t be resolved, talk to the building manager. Then, finally to Mr. Easton. If you call me as a board member with a complaint, I’ll tell you to do it. So it would be best if you started there.
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