NC School Board Challenged on Student Transgender Policy That Potentially Excludes Parents

By Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor covers news and features throughout the United States. Send him your story ideas:
April 10, 2022Updated: April 10, 2022

A speaker at a North Carolina school board meeting on April 5 called out a transgender policy that evaluates a parent’s right to know about their child’s gender choice based on the parent’s “level of acceptance.”

“During a Title IX meeting last school year, a policy was addressed for a gender support plan,” Melissa Mason, a 2022 Republican candidate for the New Hanover County Board of Education school board, said in addressing the board. “The support plan assesses a parent’s level of acceptance for a student’s gender change. If the support is assessed to be too low, schools can reassign your child’s gender and hide the information from you.”

Sloan Rachmuth, an investigative reporter and president of Education First Alliance, a parent-teacher advocacy organization that investigates policies and curriculums in the K–12 North Carolina school system, first broke the story on April 6.

In the October 2020 Title IX committee meeting that Mason referenced, Title IX Director Jarelle Lewis cited the federal civil rights law as the reason for the policy. Title IX is a law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools that receive funding from the federal government.

When asked by a committee member how parents who are unaware of their child’s decision are handled, Lewis said it would be a “case-by-case basis.”

“So depending on the age and the type of accommodation request, it will depend on the level of parental involvement,” Lewis said. “For example, in elementary school, we’re going to have to refer to what the parent is requesting. But for example, if it’s a situation where a high school student wants to have an accommodation regarding their name in class, something such as that wouldn’t necessarily need or precipitate any type of parental involvement from that end.”

Mason called this kind of behavior “grooming.”

Grooming is a predatorial tactic that involves discussing sexually explicit information under the guise of education to prepare a child for sexual activity by reducing his or her inhibitions through exposure to the content.

The public school system is funded through taxpayer dollars to teach the basics of math and science, not to entertain complex sexual topics with children, Mason said.

“This is classic grooming behavior: Keep it a secret between you and me and don’t tell your parents,” Mason said. “And when we discuss gender roles and sexual relations with children below the age of puberty, that’s sexual abuse. But this board continues to enact, defend and, when necessary, hide these disgusting criminal policies.”

As an educator for 17 years and mother of two children in the New Hanover school system, Mason told The Epoch Times that she doesn’t believe questions about gender identity should be planted in a child’s mind, as many children under 18 haven’t found their own identity, which leaves them a blank slate open for manipulation.

“It’s damaging,” Mason said. “Never mind the mental damage that is taking place, like what will happen years later, if children grow up to decide this isn’t what they wanted,” she said. “By then, the damage is done.”

Mason told the board that she understands the need for mental health support in children, but that it’s not the school’s job.

“We need to get out of the business of mental health and hospitals and get back to the business of educating,” Mason said, addressing the growing trend in social-emotional learning (SEL) protocols taking place in schools.

The New Hanover County School Board didn’t respond by press time to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

The Gender Support Plan

Rachmuth said teachers in New Hanover County, which includes the cities of Wilmington and Carolina Beach, are being asked to enact a gender-support plan if a child indicates a desire to change his or her gender.

The plan involves ranking how supportive the teacher believes the parents are, she said.

“If the parents, in the opinion of the teacher, aren’t supportive of a child changing their gender, the schools can hide the gender changes from the parents,” she said.

For Rachmuth, the plan reeks of SEL programming.

“It is not the government’s job to raise our children or to groom them into being a different gender or to take charge of developing their identity,” she said.

CASEL and the Contents of One’s Mind

Rachmuth, who’s covered the progress of SEL in North Carolina schools, said the gender support plans are emerging across the state as a result of North Carolina’s SEL provider, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) school program. It defines SEL as “the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and maintain responsible and caring decisions.”

Rachmuth reported on North Carolina Senate Bill 476, which required the Department of Education to adopt a policy for dealing with K-12 mental health issues, which may have given school officials too much power over a student’s mental development.

In June 2020, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction announced that it would partner with the CASEL to bring SEL standards to the K-12 classroom.

CASEL, a Chicago-based education firm, is largely funded by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy group, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Despite the SEL program being promoted as a program to help children manage emotions, feel and show empathy, and establish positive relationships, the program uses surveys “to peel copious amounts of private information out of school-aged children,” Rachmuth told The Epoch Times, adding that the term “equity” itself, often found throughout the program’s documents, is simply a new name for critical race theory (CRT).

While CRT is a Marxist philosophy that sees society as a class struggle between oppressors and the oppressed, specifically labeling white people as the oppressors and all other races as the oppressed, the idea has come to encompass for many teachers and parents a more expansive trend that incorporates not only issues of race but also themes of sexuality.

“The thesis behind SEL on the left is that kids need mental health help,” Rachmuth said. “We don’t argue with that. What we say is universal screening for mental health issues is inappropriate and unconstitutional. It’s examining the contents of one’s mind.”

Rachmuth compared the method to Chinese communist dictator Mao Zedong’s “Four Olds,” a title that referenced a citizen’s traditional ideas, cultures, habits, and customs that, according to Mao, needed to be eradicated for the party to thrive.

In addition to examining the contents of one’s mind, SEL uses psychiatrists who employ a treatment that’s based on CRT reminiscent of the USSR and the abuse of psychiatry that took place when it had state psychiatrists diagnosing political dissidents with multiple disorders such as “sluggish schizophrenia” and paranoia as a condition causing dissent.

By examining the baseline of one’s attitudes and beliefs, a psychiatrist could then—through repeated intervention—use an alternative narrative to obscure that baseline.

“The best way to counteract misinformation or an old habit is through narrative, not through facts,” Rachmuth said. “That is why you are seeing the abolishment of facts and the insertion of SEL in every single academic discipline because it allows for use of narrative to deprogram.”

Facts such as what one’s gender is could then be left up for debate, she said, adding that through the CASEL program, teachers have been given the authority to diagnose students, a practice that leaps far beyond the teacher’s purview.

Rachmuth and her team have gathered multiple surveys from different school districts in North Carolina, asking K–12 students questions about incriminating behaviors and private thoughts.

From a kindergarten class in one county, she showed a diagram called “The Genderbread Person” that displays a traditional gingerbread man being used to teach kindergarten children about sexual attraction between same-sex genders.

In a 7th-grade SEL survey in an English class, there is the prompt “Questions I have about my face, hair, chest, and body are—” leaving lines open for answering.

“Social-emotional learning makes it legal for a man to ask children questions like this in an open classroom for discussion,” Rachmuth said.  “We have a literacy crisis. We need to be teaching reading and writing.”