A father of a 12-year-old girl in Washington state said his daughter came home crying after a sex-ed class last fall during which she was told she was "maybe a boy inside" or "gay," KCPQ-TV reported.
Jason Peterson — a single parent with four other children — told the station when he first agreed to let his daughter take the class from Sequim School District, he figured the content would be along the lines of "pregnancies and STDs and all of those things that you want your kids to know about."
Jason Peterson (Image source: KING-TV video screenshot)
Instead, Peterson told KPCQ his girl came home confused and upset over gender identity.
“They told her that if she liked skateboarding and fishing and wearing athletic gear [and] playing basketball that those were boy things," he told the station. "And ... that would mean that she was maybe a boy inside or that she was gay."
Not that Peterson has a problem with kids who are gay or believe they are another gender — but he told KING-TV his 6th-grade girl left the class feeling as though she was being encouraged to question her identity.
“I think people should be free to be who they are,” Peterson told KCPQ. “They’re discriminating, though, against her identity. And how much of it do you have to put up with?"
"[My daughter] was very confused by it," he told KING. "She likes playing basketball, she likes going fishing with Dad, she likes skateboarding and she likes being a girl. And I told her those weren’t boy things — they were people things. That people liked to do those things."
More than that, Peterson KCPQ the sex-ed curriculum leaned heavily toward gender-identity issues rather than medically or scientifically based sexual health.
“The thing is ... it’s front burnered,” he told KCPQ. “Twenty out of 32 pages ... are generated to gender identity. It’s heavily weighted toward that. It’s biased toward that.”
What happened next?
Peterson and other parents who felt the same way aired their concerns with the principal and soon district superintendent Gary Neal, who stopped the program for the time being, KCPQ reported.
Neal added to the station that a group will be formed to discuss content standards and age-appropriateness issues for the sex-ed curriculum with the aim of completing the study prior to the start of the next school year.
What else do we know about the sex-ed program?
The district uses FLASH — i.e., Family Life and Sexual Health Curriculum, the station said, adding that the county developed it about 30 years ago.
“The information around gender identity is ... medically accurate and based in science," TJ Cosgrove, director of the Community Health Services division for King County Health, told KCPQ. "We have medical review locally, we have medical review nationally with some of the best experts to help us understand what ... information we should be sharing."
More from the station:
FLASH lessons are tested and reviewed by teachers before being published, according to King County Health officials. School districts have flexibility over how they implement FLASH – including which lessons they teach and at what grade they’re taught.
King County Public Health officials add that FLASH aligns with CDC National Health Education Standards and the National Sexuality Education Standards, which includes treating people with respect and dignity, officials said.