A Vermont elementary school, Founders Memorial School, has announced that it will be removing the terms “male” and “female” from its fifth-grade science and health curriculum. The families of the students were informed of the changes through a letter sent out on April 20. The school principal, Sara Jablonski, wrote the letter stating that the changes were a reflection of the district’s desire to use gender-inclusive language.
Jablonski says that the school’s goal is to align its curriculum with its equity policy, and as a best practice, the school will be using “person-first” language to refer to individuals. Instead of referring to a person as a “boy” or “male,” teachers will say “person who produces sperm.” Similarly, they will no longer say “girl” or “female” but will use the term “person who produces eggs.”
In the letter, the Essex Westford School District noted that teachers were working on revising worksheets to reflect the new changes. The school will focus on teaching students about the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty and briefly introduce the basic structure and function of human reproductive systems.
The decision by the school to remove gendered language from its curriculum has raised some concerns and questions from parents and members of the public who are wondering how this will affect the way children understand their bodies and the reproductive system. Nevertheless, the school, like many, isn’t listening to parents and will go ahead using gender-inclusive language as part of its policy anyway.
Parents and guardians who wish to access the materials were informed that they can find a binder with the handouts in the school’s main office. The letter outlining the changes was shared on Twitter by Erika Sanzi, the Director of Outreach for Parents Defending Education, a group advocating for parents’ rights.
“Speaking about anyone in this way is dehumanizing in any context but these new language rules specifically apply to a health unit for 5th graders about puberty and reproduction,” a spokesperson for the group said.
“It is clear that the school has decided to be derelict in their duty to educate students in the name of equity. If anyone is wondering what it looks like when an elementary school has been captured by gender ideology, this is it.”
The letter sparked a diverse range of reactions on Twitter. Some users drew comparisons between the practice and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” while others called for a complete withdrawal of students from public schools.
According to the Burlington Free-Press, in June 2021, the school board of the Essex Westford School District implemented a new equity policy that directs schools to use “anti-racist and LGBTQIA+ affirming perspectives” to guide curriculum decisions, beginning in Pre-K. The policy passed in an 8-1 vote.