What students are being taught in West Hartford schools was the subject of an emotional debate on Tuesday.
“The social justice curriculum just teaches people to treat each other with respect,” said Kathy Davis, of West Hartford.
“This is not two plus two equals four. The ideas in the new curriculum are not universally held,” said Ellen Nichols, of West Hartford.
At a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, on the mind of many who spoke was one part of the curriculum called Social-Emotional Learning.
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And while most expressed tolerance, there were some who feel this material is not appropriate for younger kids.
“You like to say don’t mess with trans kids, but it seems to me you’re messing with everyone’s kids,” said Kyle Zelazny, of West Hartford.
One board member previously said the part that raised concerns involved teaching about gender that was launched this year in the elementary schools.
According to the district’s website, part of the studies for Pre-K through Grade 5 includes books that reflect “race and ethnicity, family structures, religion and cultural tradition, and gender identity.”
“Tragedies continue to happen constantly across the country because some children see themselves as broken or something to be ashamed of or someone not deserving of respect or love. If we can take steps to stop this, shouldn’t we?” said Jon Moss, of West Hartford.
While the issue was not on Tuesday’s agenda, the board addressed it back at a meeting in March.
That’s when there was a proposal made to host a forum to talk about the program.
“This is controversial material and I think that parents have some concerns about it,” said West Hartford Board of Education member Dr. Gayle Harris during the meeting in March.
"It blends off of our diversity and inclusion, it's about anti-racism. There’s a lot of things about it. If anyone is concerned about Social Emotional Learning go on the website, print it out, I did today. There are pages and pages and if our kids grow up based on these values we’re lucky," said West Hartford Board of Education member Clare Neseralla during the same March meeting.
At that point, the board decided not to hold a forum.
It was pointed out many meetings about the curriculum were held as it was developed and parents can reach out to administrators with any questions.