Scottsdale School Club Implementing Controversial Sexuality, Anti-Racist Programming

June 14, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Correction: A former version of this story identified Anytown Leadership Program as the source of the controversial programming. Anytown Leadership Program responded to our request for comment post-publication to clarify that the programming came from their predecessor organization, identified as Anytown Arizona.

On a further note: As news of this controversy circulated, threats against the campers and staffers were reported. This is impermissible. AZ Free News does not condone or encourage threats of violence of any kind. 

Another club within Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) has stirred up controversy over its social justice programming, “Unitown,” for its engagement with hot-button issues like sexuality and anti-racism. Though they’ve attracted national attention, SUSD’s Unitown clubs aren’t new or unique to the district. Unitown clubs and camps have existed within Arizona schools for decades. 

The Arizona Daily Independent first reported on SUSD’s Unitown. They shared emails in which SUSD staff and teachers discussed implementation of the sexuality programming offered by the now-defunct social justice instructional organization Anytown Arizona: the “Safe Zone” and “Sexual Orientation” curriculum.

The Sexual Orientation curriculum included a skit titled “Herman’s Head,” in which a gender-confused child deals with their upset and confused parents, church, best friend, and current partner while dealing with the happiness of their potential partner. The minor playing the role of the gender-confused child is encouraged to pretend to contemplate suicide with a toy gun after pretending to handle the pressures of their friends and family. 

That curriculum also included a “Sexual Orientation Exercise,” which asked the following questions of students:

  1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
  2. When and how did you first decide that you were a heterosexual?
  3. Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase that you may just grow out of?
  4. Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
  5. If you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay/lesbian lover?
  6. To whom have you disclosed your heterosexual tendencies?
  7. Why do you heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into your lifestyle?
  8. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be who you are and keep quiet?
  9. Would you want your children to be heterosexual, knowing all the problems they’d face?
  10. A disproportionate majority (side note: the actual figure is 98 percent) of child molesters are heterosexuals. Do you consider it safe to expose our children to heterosexual teachers?
  11. Even with all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
  12. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
  13. Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?
  14. Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don’t you fear that the therapist might be inclined to influence you in the direction of his/her own learnings?
  15. How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive exclusive heterosexuality and fail to develop your natural, healthy homosexual potential?
  16. There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed that might enable you to change if you really want to. Have you considered electro-shock therapy?

Anytown Arizona wrote on the questionnaire that the goal was to reduce homophobia and create more straight allies. They wrote that homophobia was “an unrealistic fear or generalized negative attitude based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Safe Zone curriculum included the “Gender Unicorn,” one of the common visuals to argue that gender and sexuality exist on a spectrum — similar to “Genderbread,” as reported on last year by AZ Free News. The visual was paired with reading assignments explaining further what’s taught using the Gender Unicorn. 

SUSD launched their Unitown decades ago alongside a “Minitown.” Former SUSD Superintendent David Peterson described the programs in 2015 as opportunities to recognize and address racism, bigotry, bullying, prejudice, and intolerance. However, Unitown existed in SUSD for years before that. Back in 2005, students told East Valley Tribune that they were focusing on stereotyping, racial issues, and diversity in the SUSD club. 

Other Arizona schools hosted or advocated for Unitown clubs and camps for decades. Up until around 2015, Greenway High School in the Glendale Union High School District engaged in Unitown activities. 

As reported in the East Valley Tribune, the city of Chandler launched Unitown camps in 2003 based on the Anytown Leadership Camp. Even then, they focused on social justice issues in addition to leadership. It doesn’t appear that the Chandler-sponsored Unitown camp occurs anymore.

Some are confusing SUSD’s Unitown with the Unitown offered by Anytown Leadership Program, whose predecessor and affiliated organizations came up with Unitown decades ago. Their president, Amber Checky, told AZ Free News that SUSD has been running their Unitown independently since Anytown Arizona was shuttered around 2009.

In addition to Unitown, Anytown Leadership Program offers “Anytown Junior” workshops on social-emotional learning for K-5 students, the “Empowertown” in-school program on social justice issues for grades 6-12, and the “Minitown” condensed version of the summer camp for middle school students.

Anytown Leadership Program announced that they’re working on “CampusTown” for college students. The program plans on contracting with Arizona’s colleges to “create inclusive campuses and support activism and advocacy.”

Checky told AZ Free News that no schools are utilizing these current school programs at present.

The organization classifies their school programs as condensed versions of their $490 annual week-long camp occurring for 75 high schoolers. Of note, program staffers confiscate campers’ phones and prohibit them from speaking to their families while attending. In return, the high schoolers receive 50 hours of certified leadership training/service.

This year, the program has over 42 high schools represented. 

The woke, TikTok famous elementary school teacher nominated by the Arizona Secretary of State’s office last year for her classroom activism, Amanda Delphy, is one of the camp staffers. In a TikTok posted this week, Delphy credited the camp for making her into the person she is today.

The Anytown Leadership Program receives taxpayer dollars for work. The organization recently received a grant from Arizona Humanities, a nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for Humanities — the funding source of their grants. 

Anytown Leadership Program began in the 1950s, arising from a 1927 initiative responding to anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish sentiments at the time: the National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ), later renamed in 1998 to the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). They closed their operations and had a brief hiatus in the early 2000s before relaunching under new leadership.

Prior to 2009, each Arizona high school nominated two students to represent them at one of the program’s eight Anytown Leadership Camps held every summer.

The 2008 recession caused the original Anytown Leadership Camp to be shuttered in 2009. Alumni resurrected the program in 2014, making it into its present-day form focusing on social justice issues like diversity, equity, and inclusion.

NCCJ offers an “Anytown” programming similar to the Phoenix-based Anytown Leadership Program.

Upcoming sessions for virtual NCCJ Anytown programming concern “dismantling anti-blackness,” anti-racism, DEI (short for diversity, equity, and inclusion), and “understanding sizeism” (prejudice or discrimination against individuals based on their weight). These sessions focus on one or several of the “9 Identities”: ageism, dress code sexism, heterosexism, human trafficking, microaggressions, racism, religionism, sexism, and sizeism.

The 9 Identities have forthcoming bulletins on the NCCJ resource page to explain their place in the world of social justice. The other bulletins address social justice definitions as a whole, ableism, adultism, Black Lives Matter, cissexism, classism, colorism, consent, cultural appropriation, environmental justice, homelessness, internalization, intersectionality, neurodiversity, privilege, veteran’s affairs, and women’s rights.

State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) lamented Anytown’s shift in focus. 

SUSD parent Amanda Wray — one of the individuals included in the dossier compiled by former SUSD board president Jann-Michael Greenburg’s father, Mark Greenburg — told AZ Free News that the programming should inspire parents to rethink their approach when addressing these controversial topics.

“Conservatives need to stop using the term ‘CRT.’ What’s happening isn’t about a legal framework being taught in schools — we know K-12 students are not learning legal theories. What is happening is radical, racial division being taught not only to distract from the decline in public school academics, but it is indisputably to train students to become social activists,” said Wray. “This camp, which started out years ago as a wonderful way to unite students and respect other‘s differences, seems to have morphed into yet another form of social justice activist training. And it’s unwittingly being funded by taxpayers.”

A number of recognizable names are listed among Anytown Leadership Program supporters: the Arizona Coyotes, the Fiesta Bowl, Starbucks, Peoria Diamond Club, Amazon, Bank of America, PayPal, Target, Aldi, and CVS Health. 

Those who fund over $7,500 to Anytown Leadership Program include the Arizona Community Foundation, the Arizona Coyotes Foundation, the David Frazier Endowment Fund, and the Fiesta Bowl Charities. Those who fund between $5,000 to $7,500 include Phoenix Pride, the Robert Cialdini and Bobette Gorden Family Foundation, Rob Jaimes, Sandy Fromm, and Voya Financial. 

Those who fund between $1,000 to $5,000 include the Peoria Diamond Club; the Starbucks Foundation; David Gass; Fromm, Smith, & Gadow, P.C.; and Matt Case. Those who fund over $500 to $1,000 annually include Bank of America, Brock Insurance Services, David Gale, Diane Geimer, Jennifer Gadow, John Boyle, Leida and Greg Davis, Lisa Stone, Nancy Fromm, Phoenix Pediatrics, and Spire Health Club. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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