Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) now posts the names of individuals online who submitted records requests, and redacts staff members’ names in response to requests. SUSD will anonymize its employees’ words and actions, but it will ensure that the public is aware of who is looking into the district and how.
SUSD board candidate Amy Carney accused SUSD of intimidating individuals seeking information from the district.
“They don’t want parents or community members asking questions and they will now out you if you do,” wrote Carney.
Beginning July 1, SUSD began publishing a list of record requests including the name of the requester, the request, and the status of the request’s fulfillment. AZ Free News obtained emails associated with this update, as well as SUSD’s separate decision to redact staff names.
One parent emailed SUSD to request that it comply fully with an open records request by not redacting staff names. SUSD general counsel Lori Bird responded that they wouldn’t. She explained that the district decided to redact all staff names due to media attention.
“The District has a strong interest in maintaining a safe and secure environment for its employees including, to the extent possible, not creating situations where staff members are harassed and threatened either through social, digital or print media,” wrote Bird. “In the last few months specific staff have experienced unfounded accusations of child sexual abuse and ‘grooming’ and have been threatened and harassed utilizing their work contact information and also on social media platforms. Concerns regarding the safety of employees are taken seriously by the District.” (emphasis added)
AZ Free News has been one of the outlets to report frequently on SUSD and the controversial fruits of its records requests. Most recently last month, SUSD unintentionally provided a parent with blank patient intake forms for a Phoenix hormone and gender transition facility. The records request concerned a high school librarian and Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Club.
Earlier last month, SUSD made headlines again for the content of its social justice programming, “Unitown.” Parents and community members were divided on the curriculum, part of which included a sexual orientation exercise that challenged minors on their heterosexuality and asked about their sexual behaviors, such as whether it was possible they’d consider a homosexual lifestyle if they experienced “a good gay/lesbian lover.”
In May, SUSD came under fire again after its superintendent, Scott Menzel, defended a staff member for discussing gender ideology with kindergarten and elementary students. Menzel accused parents of Civil Rights violations.
Menzel previously defended staff members who encouraged childhood exploration of gender and sexual identity through GSA clubs.
In April, SUSD’s social justice professionals promoted drag queen storytime.
Last December, AZ Free News reported on SUSD allowing students to replace their legal birth names with preferred names to align with their desired gender identity.
Last March, an SUSD middle school principal required teachers to attend a training supporting and affirming LGBTQ+ ideologies in children.
SUSD is currently facing a lawsuit from Attorney General Mark Brnovich over its retention of Jann-Michael Greenburg as a governing board member. Brnovich contended that Greenburg shouldn’t remain on the board due to his alleged circumvention of Arizona’s Open Meeting Law.
A separate controversy involving Greenburg accrued international headlines, after a dossier on SUSD parents and community members compiled by his father, Mark Greenburg, was discovered. The elder Greenburg sued one mother, Amanda Wray, for publicizing the dossier, under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Last month, a district court judge denied Wray’s anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss.
Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) unintentionally provided a parent with blank transgender patient intake forms for a Phoenix hormone and gender transition facility. The district provided the form in response to a public records request for communications concerning Michelle Schulke, a librarian at Desert Mountain High School involved with their Genders & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Club. Schulke previously made headlines for being included on plans for sexuality and anti-racist programming for minors; one exercise asked minors to question their heterosexuality and if they’d had any “good gay/lesbian lovers.”
The top of the intake forms for the transition facility, Identity Hormones, reads as follows:
“Transgender History/Intake: This form should be done in addition to the regular intake form. It tells us more about you as a transgender person and how we can help you. Identity Hormones uses a Harm Reduction method to help transpeople. We want to keep you safe and healthy. We know that not everyone needs to or can follow the WPATH (formerly HBIGDA) Standards of Care. We will NEVER penalize you or deny you care based on what you tell us on this form. If you feel uncomfortable answering a question, leave it blank.”
The intake forms ask the individual to check all the boxes affiliated with how they identify: man, woman, transgender, nonbinary, FTM, MTF, genderqueer, intersex, and/or other. It then asks at what age the patient felt that their gender identity didn’t match their physical body.
The intake forms also ask about the sexual activities of the individual: if they’ve ever had sex, the gender identities of current and past sexual partners, the last time they had sex with another person, their sexual habits and safety, and if they want to discuss difficulties in their sex life.
SUSD General Counsel Lori Bird told the parent that the form was included in the records request by error, elaborating that the form was originally part of an attachment to an email sent by a parent to Schulke. When the parent asked if they could have the email in question, unredacted, to confirm that claim, Bird responded that no further documents would be provided. The Arizona Daily Independent first reported on this incident.
Several days after publication, the incident was noticed and posted about by the viral Twitter account highlighting leftist culture and ideology, Libs of TikTok. The account owner advised Governor Doug Ducey to investigate.
According to Schulke’s profile on DMHS, the librarian wants to make the school a “diverse and welcoming space for all students.” Schulke is a graduate of the Arizona State University (ASU) Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Prior to serving as the high school’s librarian, Schulke was an English teacher with the district for over four years.
As AZ Free News reported, Schulke is also one of over 200 Arizona educators who signed a pledge to teach Critical Race Theory (CRT) and all other social justice-oriented curriculum regardless of parental law or consent.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich already announced on Monday that his office sued SUSD for violating open meetings law. The lawsuit sought to remove former board president Jann-Michael Greenburg from the board. In a press release, Brnovich accused SUSD of putting its interests above those of SUSD parents.
“SUSD manipulated public input and silenced the voices of parents in order to advance its own agenda,” said Brnovich. “This type of bad school behavior demands expulsion.”
According to reporting by AZ Free News, Brnovich filed the lawsuit after receiving multiple complaints over the past year.
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:
What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
When and how did you first decide that you were a heterosexual?
Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase that you may just grow out of?
Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
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?
To whom have you disclosed your heterosexual tendencies?
Why do you heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into your lifestyle?
Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be who you are and keep quiet?
Would you want your children to be heterosexual, knowing all the problems they’d face?
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?
Even with all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?
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?
How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive exclusive heterosexuality and fail to develop your natural, healthy homosexual potential?
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 toldEast 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.
A group of Afghan refugees were caught wandering the golf course of a local gated resort community in Scottsdale, according to security reports first obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent. The group was part of the Afghan refugees housed at the Homewood Suites, a nearby hotel that made headlines last year for sheltering illegal immigrants for around seven months. The refugees aren’t confined to the hotel and permitted to roam the surrounding areas at their leisure; the hotel sits across the street from the gated community.
Mike Anderson — security director for the community, Gainey Ranch Golf and Country Club — informed residents that the refugees were anticipated to be gone from the nearby hotel by April. Anderson further informed residents that their staff had upped security measures.
“The Homewood Suites site is being used by the federal government to temporarily house Afghan refugees evacuated by the U.S. in August 2021. The families and individuals housed there are free to come and go as they please,” wrote Anderson. “These individuals who are found walking on the course GRCA believes are from the settlement program defined above and followed vehicles in through the north vehicle entry gate. The individuals were escorted out of the community.”
As AZ Free News reported last week, not even Scottsdale’s leadership or law enforcement were apprised of the refugee situation until over a week after the federal government began to house them in the hotel. Although the hotel no longer functions as the Homewood Suites — or even would be identified legally as the Homewood Suites — the managing company answered the phones last year and again this week as the “Homewood Suites.”
It appears that the lack of notice from the federal government didn’t give Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) leadership any pause.
Unlike their response to parental concerns over the presence of comprehensive sex education (CRE) and critical race theory (CRT) in curriculum, SUSD was quick to act when they learned of the refugee children. AZ Free News reported Sunday on Superintendent Scott Menzel’s announcement promising SUSD would immediately plan to provide educational services and support to around 80 school-aged Afghan children.
Gainey Club security alerted the Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) of the trespass incident. SPD contacted the group managing the hotel, one hired by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), to put the refugees on notice about trespassing at Gainey Ranch.
Locals have begun to report sightings of Afghans panhandling on the streets.
Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) allows students to replace their legal birth names, called “deadnames,” on their IDs with their preferred names. The district folded to a push from a Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) chapter at Cocopah Middle School: these clubs are part of a national network pushing a hyperfocus on a child’s sexuality while engaging them in social justice activism.
One GSA middle schooler revealed SUSD’s “deadname” policy during a testimonial video featured at the latest annual fundraising award ceremony hosted by the Phoenix chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN, pronounced “glisten”: an activist organization pushing for comprehensive LGBTQ+ sex education and other social justice activism), called the Sparkle Glitter GLSEN Remote Fundraiser and Respect Awards. Arizona Daily Independent first reported on the video. The mother of the anonymous student was also present; her daughter revealed that her GSA club pushed SUSD to create a “deadname” policy. The young students were instigated and aided by a teacher serving as their club sponsor, Laynee Langner, whose efforts helped them cinch the award “GSA of the Year.”
“One of my friends, who is trans, had their deadname on their ID and we thought that was kind of unfair because everyone was calling them by their deadname,” complained the middle schooler. “We took it to district board level and got it changed for the entire district so that the entire district’s students could have their proper names on the ID.”
Langner explained that the students do what they want, when they want in their GSA. She further explained that school policy forbade students from using chosen names on their ID for proper identification reasons.
“Every single student has to wear their ID all day every day, and these have their ‘deadnames,’ and they wanted that changed. The consensus is that we can’t because it’s their legal names, and we need to have their legal names on their IDs. And I came back and told the students and they were so upset,” said Langner. “I haven’t seen such joy on the face of a child when I told them they didn’t have to have their ‘deadname’ on their ID, that they could have their chosen name on their ID. It was just euphoria, and it brought – it’s just bringing tears to my eyes right now.”
“Deadnames” are the birth names that individuals reject upon transitioning genders. The lack of a space between “dead” and “names” wasn’t an oversight – that’s the spelling recognized by activists, and even Merriam Webster. Activists also use the verb “deadnaming” to refer to the accidental or purposeful practice of using an individual’s legal birth name.
GSAs originated with GLSEN in the late 1990s. GLSEN, established in 1990, not only promotes the sexualization of children, it intertwines the tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in its messaging. In guidelines for promoting inclusivity through a GSA, GLSEN wrote that having black representation in GSA leadership was necessary, and touched on topics like intersectionality, solidarity, centeredness, anti-racism, and white supremacy. It also insisted that GSA engage in social justice activism.
“If you’re discussing gender identity, talk about the gender binary as a white supremacist concept, and share information about some of the many African and Indigenous tribes that have embraced gender outside of the binary for decades,” read the post. “Have in-depth conversations in your GSA about intersectionality, solidarity, and anti-racism. These conversations are incredibly important, but you must also ensure that you do not place any undue burden on Black club members to share their trauma or to teach non-Black club members about racism. Provide space for Black people to process during or after these conversations, if needed, and make sure students know that they can step out at any point if they’re uncomfortable or triggered.”
Last year’s GSA Summit focused on a partnership with Black Lives Matter (BLM). The National Education Association (NEA) was also involved.
The club has caused deep divisions on campus in its short existence within SUSD, also mentioned during the Sparkle Glitter GLSEN Remote Fundraiser and Respect Awards testimonial video. The anonymous mother-daughter duo who revealed that the GSA sixth graders pushed SUSD to create a “deadname” policy described the divide their GSA caused at Cocopah Middle School. The mother said that their activism caused “a whole lot of problems” and said that some parents threatened to leave their middle school while others brought GSA cake to thank them.
“There was a very clear divide in the sixth graders. Those who participated were called ‘gay’ and those who didn’t participate were called ‘homophobic,’” said the middle schooler.
This is the same district formerly led by Jann-Michael Greenburg, the SUSD board member removed from presidency over his connection to a dossier on political and parental opponents created by his father.
One legislator, State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), promised to intervene with a bill to require parental consent before a student can join a school club involving gender, gender identity, and/or sexuality, as well as require schools to give parents detailed information about those types of clubs. The representative asserted that the backdoor approach to sneaking in curriculum through clubs must come to an end.
“School districts should be serving the needs of families and students and not replacing their own ideologies with the beliefs of the parents. My bill would close a loophole that school districts have found in the state law that requires parental approval before students receive sex education,” explained Kavanagh. “They’ve taken LGBTQ+ politics out of the classroom and into the clubs to circumvent the law. My bill will require that parents consent to their child joining any kind of gender sexuality, or gender identity club before the students can join and the school will also have to send parents information about the club’s bylaws, rules, goals, and purposes.”
Jill Dunican, a Desert Mountain High School parent, told AZ Free News that it took her almost four months before she could get someone at her child’s school to tell her what GSA was all about after her high schooler told her about a “sexuality club” on campus. Dunican said that she recognized the harm posed by GSA immediately after obtaining more information on it.
“At first, the principal confirmed there was a Genders Sexuality Alliance, which she framed as a mere support group. However, it took almost four months before I was put in touch with the teacher who leads the GSA who was able to provide details about the agenda and source of curriculum,” said Dunican. “After reviewing the GLSEN website, it became clear how divisive the content is. These lessons are not something I want my children exposed to. Essentially, they ask kids to label each other based on skin color, gender and sexual identities in an effort to stack rank themselves into victim groups to establish the oppressors and the oppressed. I just don’t see how that helps any child.”
“Another concerning finding,” said Dunican, “was GLSEN’s instruction that teachers encourage students to become social activists for the abolishment of police, including school resource officers. In fact, GLSEN even promotes policing as a white supremist concept. In our home, we support police and first responders and value their contributions to the Scottsdale community.”
Dunican expressed that she’s not against providing emotional support to LGBTQ+ individuals or any children. Rather, Dunican has concerns that the GSA programming is indoctrinating children with a victimhood mindset and sexualized content that does not seem age appropriate, all without parental consent.
“I’ve heard others attempt to frame any criticism of the GLSEN indoctrination as anti-LGBTQ+. That’s simply not the case. If there was a Gay-Straight Alliance that truly promoted alliances and provided support, and didn’t push a sexualized ideology, I would be all in. Every child should be treated with kindness and respect, regardless of who they are. What GLSEN is pushing on our community and children is completely inappropriate.”