Does New Canaan’s health education curriculum cover “gender identities?” »

NEW CANAAN — Gender identity is “currently not” covered in the district’s curriculum, according to Jonathan Adam, the city’s health and physical education coordinator for kindergarten through eighth grade.

The topic came up this week when a school board member inquired about inclusion efforts on behalf of gay students and another asked if the curriculum included gender identities following a presentation made on health education.

Julie Toal, a member of the Republican Board of Education, asked if “gender identity” is “in our lesson plans” and, if so, what grade it gets.

Adam responded by saying it wasn’t in the current curriculum before exposing, saying parents often ask about gender-related topics when their children are studying “human growth and development or lessons about puberty”. Parents are given a guide to follow on what is taught in district health classes and they have the “opportunity to remove their child from this lesson” if they “feel like teaching their children this”.

Democratic board member Penny Rashin told a personal anecdote that a friend’s son never “felt supported enough” during high school to “come out” about his gayness. She wondered aloud what the district is and could do “to make sure everyone in high school feels safe and supported in their personal decisions and their sexuality.”

Adams said the topic is “certainly something we’re looking into” and that there needs to be a more open dialogue about it.

Superintendent Bryan Luizzi said part of the school’s climate and culture is to create a space where all students feel “accepted, engaged and welcomed.”

Both Luizzi and Adams stressed the importance of students talking to a “trusted adult.”

The superintendent explained New Canaan High School’s Connections program, in which each student meets in a small group with a teacher to develop “a relationship with a trusted adult whom they meet regularly and who is able to solve problems. “.

Toal asked if parents are notified if a child talks to a teacher, administrator or counselor and it becomes apparent that the child is in an unhealthy relationship. If staff learn of anything “of a more serious nature,” Adams said, they will contact parents.

Board member Brendan Hayes said he’s glad Adams has agreed to make an effort to make other teachers aware of what’s being taught in health education, noting that teachings on the subject continue. to evolve.

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