Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of Arizona recognized 24 K-12 schools throughout the state as “No Place For Hate” (NPFH) participants.
There are four required steps to qualifying as a NPFH school: register, create a NPFH committee, sign the NPFH Pledge, and complete at least three school-wide NPFH activities. An additional recommended step for schools concerns engaging in “A World of Difference” anti-bias and allyship workshops.
Despite the ADL’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, NPFH campaigns may alienate certain classes of students and educators — such as Christians.
According to the ADL, a valid NPFH committee “include[s] students, staff, administrators, and family members that reflect the diversity of the school community.” They are tasked with identifying bias and bullying within their school and host activities to right those identified wrongs.
Variations of the required pledge exist, and they usually differ between elementary and middle or high schools. For elementary schools, one form of the pledge reads as follows:
I promise to do my best to treat everyone fairly. I promise to do my best to be kind to everyone — even if they are not like me. If I see someone being hurt or bullied, I will tell a teacher. Everyone should be able to feel safe and happy in school. I want our school to be No Place for Hate.
Most versions of the pledge for middle and high schools include more social justice concepts. One example is reproduced below:
I will seek to gain understanding of those who are different from myself. I will speak out against prejudice and discrimination. I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate. I will promote respect for people and help foster a prejudice-free school. I believe that one person can make a difference — no person can be an ‘innocent’ bystander when it comes to opposing hate. I recognize that respecting individual dignity and promoting inter-group harmony are the responsibilities of all students.
I pledge from this day forward to do my best to combat prejudice and to stop those who, because of hate or ignorance, would hurt anyone or violate their civil rights. I will try at all times to be aware of my own biases and seek to gain understanding of those who I perceive as being different from myself. I will speak out against all forms of prejudice and discrimination. I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate. I will think about specific ways my community members can promote respect for people and create a prejudice free zone. I firmly believe that one person can make a difference and that no person can be an “innocent” bystander when it comes to opposing hate. I recognize that respecting individual dignity, achieving equality and promoting intergroup harmony are the responsibilities of all people. By signing this pledge, I commit myself to creating a respectful community.
Valid NPFH activities that count toward the three needed to qualify the school must be preapproved by the national ADL and tackle bias, prejudice, stereotypes, discrimination, social justice, inclusion, diversity, name-calling, or bullying.
The World of Difference workshops include programs for students titled “Becoming An Ally: Interrupting Name Calling and Bullying,” “Peer Leadership,” “Peer Training,” and “General Anti-Bias Training.” For the most part, each workshop engages in concepts like prejudice, bigotry, diversity, inclusivity, and equity.
Those steps are required, but there are a plethora of other activities and workshops offered to educators and students vying for NPFH recognition. In June and July, the ADL is hosting a month-long “anti-bias” course for teachers to learn how to eliminate bias while making “equitable and inclusive classrooms.”
The 24 Arizona schools certified as NPFH schools were: C.I. Waggoner Elementary, Desert Meadows, Eagle Ridge Elementary School, Emerson School, Horizon Honors Elementary School, Whittier Elementary, Kyrene de las Manitas, Kyrene del Cielo, Kino Junior High School, Cocopah Middle School, Cooley Middle School, Desert Canyon Middle School, Greenway Middle School, Shea Middle School, Vista Verde Middle School, Dobson High School, Higley High School, Mountain View High School, North High School, Red Mountain High School, Verrado High School, Trailside Performing Arts Academy, New Way Academy, and Rancho Solano Preparatory School.
Centennial Middle School received an honorable mention.
The 24 schools will receive a customized banner designating them as a NPFH school for this year.
Cocopah Middle School’s principal required teachers to attend a training on supporting and affirming LGBTQ+ lifestyles in children, and where they established a Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Club that won an award for coercing the district to allow students to replace their given, or “deadname,” with a preferred name matching their gender identity. GSAs may also stand for Gay-Straight Alliance.
There are over 1,800 schools nationwide who qualify as NPFH.
Once upon a time, teachers were measured by their ability to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. And schools did everything they could to ensure that the teachers they hired were trained properly in these critical subjects.
But now, too many school districts have refocused their priorities, opting to indoctrinate our kids with diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve certainly seen it with the cleverly disguised Marxism inherent to Critical Race Theory. But this isn’t the only avenue the left is using to come after students.
Pushing gender and sexual identity have also become popular. One Arizona school district has even gone so far as to encourage children to replace their “deadname”—the birth name that individuals reject upon transitioning genders—with their preferred name on their school ID. And now, a school in that same district, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), has required middle school teachers to attend grooming training…
Last March, Cocopah Middle School Principal Nick Noonan required teachers to attend a training on supporting and affirming LGBTQ+ ideologies in children. Email records show Noonan paid $500 in school funds for the two-hour training, “Safer Spaces,” conducted by the Phoenix chapter of Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization pushing LGBTQ+ ideologies onto minors and communities. Noonan characterized the training as professional development in an email obtained by AZ Free News.
The middle school’s GLSEN-affiliated club, Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA), club sponsor Laynee Langner requested the training. According to emails obtained by AZ Free News, Langner asked for the training out of concern that some teachers weren’t calling students by their preferred names. Langner advocated for Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) to allow students to wear IDs reflecting their preferred name rather than their given name, which they called a “deadname.”
For intervening on behalf of the children in the deadname debacle, GLSEN Phoenix awarded Langner and her club “GSA of the Year” late last year.
The act of grooming indicates preparing something or someone for a specific objective. In recent decades, that term became associated with the grooming of children for sexual purposes, such as pedophiles preparing children for molestation. Grooming usually happens to minors, but it may also occur with adults. Those who groom, nicknamed “groomers,” attempt to build trust, dependency, and other emotional connections with their target in order to manipulate and exploit them.
Over the last few years, opponents of sexualized K-12 curriculum and activities have identified its proponents as “groomers.”
The Cocopah Middle School “Safer Spaces” training from last March occurred over Zoom, and no recording was made available. However, the GLSEN website offers a 52-page “Safe Space Kit” for educators, which the organization also calls their “Guide to Being an Ally to LGBTQ Students.”
The guide has educators assess their personal beliefs to “dismantl[e] internalized homophobia and transphobia.” It doesn’t broach the topic of educators whose personal beliefs may conflict directly with LGBTQ+ ideologies, such as Christianity. The guide also teaches that sex is fluid, or “gender identity.”
Additionally, the guide instructs educators make it known they support LGBTQ+ children by posting LGBTQ+ materials like stickers and posters in their classroom or office, wearing LGBTQ+ buttons or wristbands, telling other educators they support LGBTQ+ students, reforming their speech to avoid gendered terms like “he” or “she” and instead use “they,” and rebuking anyone who displays “anti-LGBTQ+” behavior. It further instructs educators to hide the information a student discloses to them about their sexual orientation or gender identity from that student’s parents.
Educators are also told that they should incorporate LGBTQ+ ideologies in their curriculum and activities. Activism is encouraged: a checklist asks educators to review their school for LGBTQ+ inclusivity, such as gender-neutral or private bathrooms, transgender-friendly sports teams, and gender-neutral alternatives to Prom King and Queen.
In the concluding portion of the guide, educators are told to make an action plan of their own: how they can support LGBTQ+ students, educate students and staff on LGBTQ+ issues, advocate for relevant changes at their school, and what further resources or help they need to make their action plan possible.
A mother recently discovered that her sixth grader’s teacher slipped a politicized jab at Governor Doug Ducey’s opposition to school mask mandates into a homework assignment. Cocopah Middle School Language Arts teacher SusanMulhern included a question asking students to check the grammar of a sentence asking when Ducey would impose K-12 mask mandates statewide. The question is reproduced below:
“What THREE rules would correct the following two sentences’ errors: ‘When will governor Ducey mandate the use of masks in schools?’ inquired william. I think it is time to begin that at cherokee elementary school.”
Just one of the politically charged questions on a homework assignment from Cocopah Middle School Language Arts teacher Susan Mulhern.
To clarify, Cherokee Elementary School had nothing to do with the assignment. The mother of the student, Joanna Lawson, explained to AZ Free News that Mulhern had only happened to mention the other elementary school in the homework question.
“[The statement] doesn’t reflect all of the beliefs of the students or their families. It’s no place for politics or personal opinion, and it creates divisiveness,” observed Lawson.
Lawson told AZ Free News that this homework assignment was just one of several issues they’d experienced.
Last week, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) forced Lawson’s son to quarantine after being listed as a “close contact” with an infected student. This occurred prior to SUSD instituting its mask mandate. After missing four full days of instruction, Mulhern’s first response when Lawson’s son returned to class was to email Lawson that her son was “falling behind.”
The Language Arts teacher also claimed that Lawson’s son hadn’t turned in a certain assignment. Lawson responded with proof that they had – and received no response from Mulhern. Instead, Mulhern reportedly singled Lawson’s son out in class the day he’d returned from the forced quarantine.
“He came home that same night and burst into tears. He told me that she’d singled him out in class for falling behind,” recounted Lawson. “He feels this pressure, and what’s worse, it triggers a lot of what is happening during the COVID lockdown and when we were trying to do this stuff from home.”
Lawson’s son also recounted how Mulhern told students that day that they needed to mask up because “coronavirus lives in your nose.”
Lawson, a single mother, described to AZ Free News how school has become a looming burden for their family. She explained that the four days of in-person education lost has a ripple effect on the rest of her son’s education.
“Not only is he behind those four full days of instruction – then he’s behind on a quiz, a project. It compounds, and I’m feeling the weight of all of that here,” explained Lawson. “I’m also trying to divide my attention between a fourth grader and sixth grader between working, while making dinner, while doing laundry, and all of the things that we’re doing as parents. It’s really disheartening.”
Lawson explained that her family is new to this school this year, and wasn’t aware of the district’s quarantining policies. According to Lawson, Mulhern told her that students were expected to keep up with their schoolwork during forced quarantines if they weren’t “actually sick.”
All of these incidents in the first few weeks back to school has Lawson questioning whether her family will continue to be part of SUSD. She told AZ Free News that the public schools they’ve experienced are nothing like what she’d experienced growing up.
“This has me really doubting whether I should keep my sons in [SUSD],” said Lawson. “They’re the ones at the end of all of this that will suffer. This does not feel the same as the elementary school I went to as a girl.”
It appears from Mulhern’s summer reading assignments that politicized educational material isn’t a new endeavor for her.
One of the assigned course readings, “The Perfect Shot” by Elaine Marie Alphin, is a murder mystery that grapples with social justice issues like racial profiling and systemic racism. The syllabus’ synopsis emphasizes that one of the protagonist’s Black peers was arrested only because he was Black, and hints that the justice system is unfair to minorities.
“Someone murdered Brian’s girlfriend, Amanda. The police think it was her father. Brian isn’t so sure. But everyone he knows is telling him to move on, get over it, focus on the present. Focus on basketball. Focus on hitting the perfect shot. Brian hopes that the system will work for Amanda and her father. An innocent man couldn’t be wrongly convicted, could he? But then Brian does a school project on Leo Frank, a Jewish man lynched decades ago for the murder of a teenage girl – a murder he didn’t commit. Worse still, Brian’s teammate Julius gets arrested for nothing more than being a black kid in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brian can’t deny any longer that the system is flawed. As Amanda’s father goes on trial, Brian admits to himself that he knows something that could break the case.”
Another assigned reading, “If a Tree Falls During Lunch Period” by Gennifer Choldenko, pointedly criticizes the whiteness of the protagonist’s new school, and the lack of diversity because everyone there looks white.
A third assigned reading, “Crossing the Wire” by Gary Hobbs, glorifies illegal immigrants and border crossings.
Lawson said that the district has responded to her concerns about the homework assignment. On Monday, Cocopah Middle School Principal Nick Noonan promised to meet with Lawson to discuss the issue.