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.
A Tucson school board says it won’t review its secretive policy allowing males who claim to be transgender into girls’ locker rooms and restrooms.
The Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) told parents that it wouldn’t reconsider their unwritten policy on boys who claim to be transgender — a policy which also doesn’t require parents to be notified when males use their daughters’ locker rooms and restrooms, and directs girls to use another facility if they’re upset that males use female-designated private spaces. The policy has reportedly been in place for at least a decade.
Eileen Jackson, president of the CFDS governing board, informed one parent, Bart Pemberton, in a February email obtained by Daily Caller News Foundation that students uncomfortable with their policy may request an accommodation.
“Similarly, any student who is uncomfortable sharing multiple-occupancy facilities with others has the ability to request an accommodation,” Jackson said. “[O]ur administrators do not require any student to be singled out or isolated based on any of the protected statuses identified in our policy.”
Jackson told Pemberton in a follow-up email that the governing board wouldn’t review the matter and had no interest in doing so. Jackson added that she fully supported the policy.
“By not requesting this item be added to a future agenda, I am expressing my full support of the policy and our administrators’ implementation of this policy in our schools,” said Jackson.
In response to online criticism, CFSD pointed back to its 2015 governing board decision to expand its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity, as justification of its unwritten policy on males in girls’ restrooms and locker rooms.
“This policy guides administrators in their daily decisions that arise in the operation of our schools. Principals operate well within the directive of the Board’s established policy,” stated CFSD. “There is no plan to revise the board policy to exclude the language referencing gender identity or expression. Board members have indicated their full support of the current policy and our administrators’ implementation of this policy in our schools.”
CFSD’s governing board policy came from the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), which also hosts the policy on its platform. The latest version of this policy was adopted in June 2021.
ASBA recently fought against the advancement of legislation intended to remove sexualized books from K-12 classrooms.
Chris Kotterman, representing ASBA, claimed that the legislation was an “unprecedented state control of curriculum.” Kotterman also issued a veiled warning that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) wouldn’t always be run by a Republican individual, as it is currently, indicating that the legislation’s framework for creating prohibited books list would be weaponized against those advocating to remove sexualized content.
CFSD also offers resources to students concerning gender identity and expression, referring students to the It Gets Better Project, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA), and Gender Affirming Healthcare.
These organizations listed by CFSD offer minors everything from counseling to information on medical treatments for gender identity and expression.
“Gender affirming healthcare can include therapy to address feelings of gender dysphoria, as well as medical treatments that help individuals achieve physical characteristics that better align with their gender identity,” stated CFSD.