Parents in Southern California are outraged school officials did not notify them that biological males (who identify as non-binary or female) were approved to be girls cabin counselors during a three-night school-organized camp. Some say it is another example of school officials determining they know what is best for children.
No crime was committed and foul-play was reported, but parents are angry school officials withheld information that caused their 5th-grade daughters to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
Los Alamitos Unified School District (San Bernardino County) and Weaver Elementary School officials coordinated the event. According to a report in the Post Millennial, students were participating in a science camp.
In an interview with a KTLA reporter, parent Suzy Johnson said, “No parent should feel the way I feel after knowing what could have happened to my daughter.”
Parent Rachel Sandoval agreed and contacted the school for clarification:“I contacted the school and asked them if they were able to confirm that there was not a man actually sleeping in the same cabin as the girls. They were not able to confirm that.”
School officials have not apologized, and camp officials are referring concerned parents to California law.
Per California law, we place staff in cabins they identify with,” Emmi Teige, assistant director of Camp Pali said.
According to a KTLA report, a spokesperson for the school district said district administrators take “all complaints and concerns seriously and is currently investigating.”
Concerned parents are not faulting the camp—they are faulting the poor communication between school administrators and parents.
Many parents believe they should have been notified of the policy, shared in the decision-making process to determine which camp would be most appropriate for 5th-grade students, and given the opportunity to refuse participation if they decided the camp policy was incongruent with family values or the risk assessment was too high.
“It’s awful that children had to even experience this in fifth-grade camp,” Johnson, the mother of a 5th-grade girl said. “If I was aware of it and I had initialed something saying this was going to be done at this outdoor science camp, I would have kept my children home.”
On Monday, a school district spokesperson responded to growing criticism by telling KTLA, “There were no biologically male counselors in shared cabins with female students at the camp that they are aware of.”
The statement contradicts the observations of female camp participants.
The school district statement reads:
“While counselors may have used the pronouns, they/them, the use of these pronouns is not restricted to biological males. Biological females also use those term,” the statement read. “Pali Institute is an equal opportunity employer and always has been, with diversity and inclusion among its core values. Its commitment to diversity and inclusion applies equally to its students. Pali Institute’s priority is and always has been to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of its students, with strict rules and guidelines that govern staff interaction with students.”
Parents stand by their statements and are hoping this incident will prompt a better line of communication between school staff and parents.
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