By Corinne Murdock |
Upset parents and community members who showed up to voice their opposition to Catalina Foothills School District’s (CFSD) secretive gender identity policies during the governing board meeting on Tuesday were prevented from doing so.
CFSD parents and community members organized in protest following revelation of CFSD’s longstanding unwritten policy that doesn’t require parental notification if boys are entering girls’ restrooms and locker rooms. CFSD declared it wouldn’t reconsider this policy.
The parents and community members were also in protest of another secretive practice dating back several years, in which district staff would acknowledge students using a different gender identity without informing parents. In a September 2021 email, CFSD Principal Mark Rubin-Toles shared a confidential list of the pronouns and preferred names of his students at Orange Grove Middle School.
“If you are like me, you may have been challenged recently to keep some of our kids’ pronouns and preferred names straight — and to remember what can and can’t be shared with families,” stated Rubin-Toles. “It is our responsibility to protect student privacy in these matters.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, CFSD warned that it had reduced its public comment time, prioritized district parents and local community members, and deprioritized those who spoke on the same subject at previous meetings.
“Lack of discussion does not mean we haven’t heard you. I assure you, we have,” stated Board President Eileen Jackson.
CFSD has indicated in past emails and recent board comments that student privacy and the relationship between educators and their students takes precedence over parental rights. That caused an uproar among some within the Tucson community, but their voices weren’t heard on Tuesday. CFSD indicated during the meeting that those upset with their administration had spoken out enough on the subject.
CFSD had 11 pro-LGBTQ+ students defending their policies speaking first. The students emphasized that they had a right to privacy, and that the district should be able to keep student information secret from parents.
After the students, CFSD parents and community members had their turn to speak. However, the only ones allowed to speak were 17 individuals who were also supportive of CFSD’s policies.
Following an earlier meeting this month, CFSD asked KGUN 9 to correct their reporting to say that many of the upset speakers at that last meeting weren’t CFSD parents or community members.
In response, an organized group of CFSD citizens accused CFSD of lying. The group, CFSD Concerned Citizens, cited the district’s unwillingness to improve policy or allow public discussion on their concerns as the reason for their organization.
CFSD Concerned Citizens partners include School Board Watchlist, Protect Arizona Schools Coalition, Heritage Foundation, Moms for Liberty, Alliance Defending Freedom, Center for Arizona Policy, Goldwater Institute, and AZ Women of Action.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to email@example.com.