Teaching of gender identity evolving in Marysville schools

MARYSVILLE – Life can be confusing, especially so if your gender identity is not heterosexual.

That is why the Marysville School District teaches students about gender identity starting in the sixth grade in health class.

Nationwide, the teachings have been controversial. Some school boards have been grilled by parents for teaching it without their knowledge. Other districts have downright banned it. Others say its just spreading a certain ideology. Planned Parenthood says it should be addressed as early as age 3.

But in Marysville, there has been little to no opposition. School leaders say that is because parents are notified a month in advance about the teachings, been given a chance to go over materials and allowed to opt out their children if desired.

Brynn Marcum, director of curriculum and assessment, said the district has adopted the free curriculum endorsed by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Even though the number of students experiencing gender identity is small, it is important for everyone to learn about acceptance.

“It’s confusing going through their feelings, and people telling them they’re wrong,” Marcum said.

Gender identity refers to being a boy or girl, or both, or neither, regardless of their gender assigned at birth.

Jodi Runyon, director of engagement and outreach, said: “Knowledge is a priority” for students and parents. “We want them to have the information they need.”

She added the district wants to provide equity and access for students, including those who don’t have a heterosexual identity.

The topic is also an important one for parents to address.

“We’d like the parents to take the lead in the conversation,” Runyon said.

Marcum said parents in grades 5th through 12th looked over the materials.

“That first experience was positive with the community,” she said.

Runyon said some communities are starting the discussion as early as kindergarten, but this one has decided to wait until later.

She added that the state legislature is looking at amending the Healthy Youth Act of 2007, so there may need to be some policy changes after the session.

About 15 people attended a meeting with Marcum Tuesday night related to the Family Life And Sexual Health and KNOW curriculums taught in Marysville schools. Some questions came up, but none related to gender identity.

Marcum pointed out that if teachers are asked sensitive questions they are instructed to say, “That would be a good question to ask your parents.”

Gender identity students

•The school administrator is encouraged to meet with students working through gender identity and their parent/guardian. They should discuss the student’s needs and any accommodations.

•No student will be required to use a restroom or locker room that conflicts with his or her gender identity.

•They also will be able to participate in physical education and athletic programs consistent with their gender identity.

•School dress codes will be gender-neutral so students can dress consistent with their gender identity.

Examples in high school

•All students – regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – deserve a safe educational environment free from discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying.

•Expectations on people to be heterosexual is harmful to all people.

•Everyone should be shown courtesy and respect. It’s wrong to tease or bully others. •Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people suffer higher rates of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual violence.

•Young people are more accepting of LGBTQ people than ever before.

•Bullying can make people feel bad about themselves, afraid to come to school, make them depressed or even suicidal.

OSPI standards

•Beginning in kindergarten, students will be taught about the many ways to express gender. Crossdressing is one form of gender expression.

•Third-graders will be introduced to gender identity. These children will be taught they can choose their own gender.

•Fourth-graders will be expected to “define sexual orientation,” which refers to whether a person identifies as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual; they’ll also be taught about HIV prevention. They will be told they can choose their sexual orientation.

•Seventh-graders will be expected to “distinguish between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”

•High school students will critically “evaluate how culture, media, society, and other people influence our perceptions of gender roles, sexuality, relationships, and sexual orientation.”

More in News

Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading

Briefly

Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos
                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

Scott Beebe hands out Chromebooks to people in their cars. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville parents anxious to pick up school materials for kids

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – A few days ago Marysville schools… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

Crews will blow garbage into the street and sweep it up over the next few weeks. The city is asking people to move their cars, trash cans and recycle bins when they come around to help them do a thorough job. (Courtesy Photo)
Marysville shuffles workers due to virus, seeks public’s help for sweepers next week

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe. MARYSVILLE – From working from home to teleconferencing… Continue reading

Arlington closed until April 24 amid COVID-19 outbreak: what’s next?

ARLINGTON – When Arlington public school leaders met for a special meeting… Continue reading