A school board meeting in Ohio became heated over an email telling teachers they were not obligated to tell parents when their children change gender pronouns.
An Aug. 31 email from an administrator at Mentor School District to 6th-12th grade teachers claimed they’re under no obligation to notify parents if children change their preferred pronouns in the classroom, as long as the request was informal, according to a report from Fox News.
Thus, students as young as 11 years old could switch their preferred pronouns and identify as a different gender without any parental involvement – unless the student asks for a formal name change in one or more of the school’s digital portals.
While the email was sent out by Assistant Superintendent Tim Hamman, Superintendent Craig Heath maintained at a Sept. 13 board meeting that he was responsible for writing the email’s controversial content.
“The recent article about Mentor schools and the use of preferred pronouns focused on one email that only tells part of that story. The words that have caused the most concern were mine, not Mr. Hamman’s,” Heath said.
Heath insisted the email in question was based on a “singular” student approaching a “singular” teacher, and that was all the statement was meant to address.
“If it was just a one-off scenario, why did we send it to 6th grade teachers and up?” recently elected board member Annie Payne asked Heath. Her question was met with uproarious applause, after which Heath claimed the email was sent out to all the teachers due to a “miscommunication amongst our staff.”
Heath also said the subject was up for discussion in the future, particularly at a board retreat scheduled for this week.
But Payne pressed further, asking whether a follow-up email was sent to teachers to clarify that his instruction on pronoun changes without parental knowledge was in reference to one particular student.
“No, we have not sent that clarification out yet,” he said. “We were waiting for this meeting and then obviously our board retreat next week to have some of these conversations so we can give them the accurate information.”
Still, once the board meeting was opened for public comment, concerned parents expressed their agitation.
“One thing that I noticed when you talked about the retreat, the No. 1 topic you want to talk about is pronouns and the LGBTQ movement,” one woman said. “I didn’t hear one word about education. What are we teaching our children? It is not your responsibility to worry about moral values. That is the parental right. You are treading on parental rights all over the place, and you’re also violating the Constitution.”
The woman expressed sympathy for those who experience gender dysphoria, but said the radical ideologies at play shouldn’t be forced on the students without parental knowledge.
A mother with two children in the district criticized the board for adopting a “woke agenda.”
“I was totally embarrassed and totally disgusted when I saw our school system make negative national news,” she said. “This is not a subject that’s needed, or our educators have the right to discuss without parental knowledge. … You have no business discussing pronouns and genders with immature, developing minds.”
As parents expressed their ire, Payne defended their rights to do so at every turn, even when she herself was sharply criticized by one parent.
“Parents have a fundamental right to the upbringing of their children,” Payne said. “We should not undermine their right by deciding for them what is best for their child.”
The email at the root of the discussion was initially obtained and shared by Parents Defending Education.
“If the goal is to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for the student, why do they have to hide it from the parents?” Mailyn Salabarria, director of community engagement for PDE, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Instead, transparency and proper notification of the legally responsible parties – the parents – should be the No. 1 step in any of these circumstances.”