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California parents disturbed over state mandated gay rights lessons some say aren't age appropriate

A California school district will be implementing textbooks featuring LGBT activism and gay rights, according to state mandates. (Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot)

Parents are disturbed by what they say is inappropriate teaching material at the Elk Grove Unified School District in Elk Grove, California.

What are the details?

Parents of children attending the schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District got a preview of some new books that are aimed at educating students about gay rights and LGBT inclusivity.

According to KOVR-TV, however, some parents aren't happy that some of the books — including a book tailored to second graders — feature life lessons from a drag queen.

On Thursday, some parents were able to preview the books, which are mandated by the state of California in an effort to meet state education standards for inclusivity. California law stipulates that the public school curriculum must include teaching contributions from LGBT people as well as varying cultural and ethnic groups.

Parents were asked to review the books and provide feedback. On one of the forms, according to KOVR, one choice is "sweet spots," which is an area to reflect positive feedback. The second choice is "red flags," or an area to reflect comments or questions.

One parent, Carrie Harrell, said, "I want to make sure that [the books are] age-appropriate, and I want to know what is going to be taught to my child."

Harrell added that she's not "anti-LGBT," and that she loves all people, but her concerns lie with teachers discussing complex human sexuality with 7-year-olds.

“It needs to be dealt with appropriately,” Harrell explained. “I hope they read the feedback and I’m hoping it’s not just a piece of paper.”

What's age appropriate?

Other parents were adamant that some lessons on LGBT activism and rights simply weren't appropriate for kids of a certain age.

Greg Burt with the California Family Council expressed such concerns, and said that one book in particular — "My World Interactive," by publishers Pearson, Scott Foresman, and Prentice Hall — features the story of Jose Julio Sarria, who is believed to be the first openly gay man individual to run for office.

"My World Interactive" is a second grade-level book and also features people like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

One passage in the controversial book reads, "[Sarria] decided to be honest. He told people he was gay and that sometimes he dressed as a woman. He was the first person to do this when running for office. ... It inspired other gay leaders to run for office, too."

"I just don't think Elk Grove parents are ready or interested in having their second-graders learn honesty from a drag queen who has a criminal record!" Burt quipped, referring to Sarria's 1974 arrest in a hotel bathroom on "morals charges."

Xanthi Pinkerton, a spokesperson for the Elk Grove Unified School District, explained that the chapter featuring Sarria was "about how people can make a difference."

Pinkerton noted that a district committee plans to review all parent feedback, but added that the district is simply following California state mandates on education and inclusivity.

Books will likely be implemented for the 2019-20 school year.

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