Parents blast BOE over health matters

November 10, 2017 05:13 AM

CAMBRIDGE - Many parents were beyond angry on Thursday night while standing before their school board.

"This made national news, it was on freaking Fox News," Rich Meacham pointed out.

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Meacham, along with many other community members, are upset about a guest speaker brought in from the Pride Center of the Capital Region last week to discuss Gender Identity with 7th grade students in their health class.

"I don't believe this was appropriate and I don't believe a teacher that can't determine when you go too far should be dealing with our kids," Meacham says.

Even though the school district insists the subject matter is part of the state mandated curriculum, they say they share the same concern as parents regarding the age appropriateness of the hand-out material.

"I'm appalled no one was notified of this beforehand so a parent can choose to opt out of this class," said Deborah Collins, a Cambridge parent.

"I am grateful that my daughter didn't have the ambition to look through the packet before I got it," Megan Olson stated.

"This isn't something you can take back from them," Sirell Fiel told school board members, adding, "You just stole the innocence of our kids.

Not everyone feels that way about what happened. Tenth grader Tyler Betit, calls it a "simple mistake," and thinks kids walking the hallways already know the material inside the pamphlet.

"I have been bullied strictly for the fact of my sexuality and when I see a packet like this come into the school grounds, it makes me very happy," he says.

"I feel terrible about what happened," said Glenda Salzer, "I cam empathize with parents that were shocked to find the packet but it's not the end of the world."

It's not the end of a career either for Jacqueline Hall, the health teacher at the center of the controversy. She returned to the classroom on Thursday after serving one week on paid administrative leave. a handout on gender identity.

"Any additional consequences resulting from these events are a personnel matter and we can not and will not discuss them further," Neil Gifford, President of the Cambridge Board of Education, told the crowd.

Gifford also promised people that from this day forward, the health curriculum will be closely monitored by the administration, as well as all supporting materials used in health classes.

In addition, he says, the health teacher will send weekly updates to students and family regarding the topics of discussion for the upcoming week.


WNYT Staff

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