HAYWARD — School district officials will evaluate lesson plans used to expose students to homosexual ideals after parents raised concerns that materials used in relation to last week's national Ally Week were not appropriate for kindergartners.
The incident spurred some parents from Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science to keep their children out of school during the program and write complaints to the district office.
"My husband and I firmly believe our daughter is too young to be exposed to some of the teaching the classroom teacher has printed in the classroom October newsletter," said parent Adela Voelker in a letter to school officials obtained by The Daily Review.
Voelker declined comment for this story and deferred any media inquiries to Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento-based legal firm specializing in the defense of religious freedoms and parental rights.
Matthew McReynolds, an attorney advising Voelker, said the firm has requested to see what materials and type of instruction was used during the program and have not heard back from the school or district.
"It was designated as Ally Week, but it is still not clear what exactly was taught," he said. "But (the pledge cards) are very specific to trying to turn kids who can barely write their own name into allies for the gay and lesbian cause."
Pledge cards were distributed to classrooms for students to confirm their alliance in promoting safer schools "for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."
By signing the card, students become allies and pledge to "not use anti-LGBT language or slurs, intervene — when I feel I can — in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students, and actively support safer schools efforts."
Some parents said they interpreted that as forcing youths to take a stand on issues that are inappropriate for their age, prompting officials to look into the wording of the pledge cards with expected changes next year.
"Certainly the kids can make that decision at the high school or college level," McReynolds said. "But at the kindergarten level, when these students don't know what the phrases mean, is inappropriate."
Val Joyner, HUSD spokeswoman, said no district program or curriculum is made and intended to push students to make such decisions.
"At no time is the content of national Ally Week or any anti-bias program or activity that we have at HUSD encouraged to advocate for a specific cause or lifestyle," she said. "Our main goal is to teach students how to become an ally when a student is being mistreated."
Hayward schools officials said national Ally Week works well with the district goal of creating an inclusive environment at all schools.
Joyner said administrators and teachers used the week as an opportunity for students to learn the importance of being an ally when fellow students are being bullied or harassed.
The pledge cards given to kindergartners were designed for middle school children, she said.
"It was a mistake and there was no intention to get anyone riled up," Joyner said. "However, this one mishap did happen and we will evaluate the materials being used for national Ally Week to make sure they are appropriate for all grade levels."
Reach Kristofer Noceda at 510-293-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.