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Kindergartners in Connecticut participate in “social emotional learning through an equity lens”

Elementary school students in West Hartford, Connecticut public schools have been going through what has been called “social emotional learning through an equity lens.”

The lessons are intended to teach kindergarten through fifth grade students about certain social justice standards like identity, diversity, justice, and action. The “identity” portion of the curriculum includes texts that expose students to the concept of preferred pronouns, and even the singular form of “they.”

A text for kindergarten students is Introducing Teddy, a story about a character and his teddy named Thomas. Thomas says, “I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.” Another book for the kindergarten grade is Let’s Talk About Race. Other grades have similar texts that center around characters who are questioning and contemplating their gender identity.

Parents raised concerns over materials presented to young students about group identities, including transgender content being taught to kindergarten students.

Parents from the district have been told by district officials that they may not opt their children out of the curriculum, which reportedly aims to teach students a set of “social justice standards,” and they contacted the non-profit organization called Parents Defending Education to share their concerns.

The district’s director of equity advancement, Dr. Roszena Haskins, sent an email to parents explaining that the schools have “redoubled district-wide efforts to attend to the social and emotional needs of children and adults.” She added that the “social justice standards” originated from the framework of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Haskins continued, “CASEL acknowledges that ‘While SEL alone will nto solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can help schools to promote understanding, examine biases, reflect on and address the impact of racism…close opportunity gaps and create a more inclusive school community.’” She added that “WHPS teaches SEL through an equity lens, adapted from the Learning for Justice social justice and anti-bias framework.” 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: ACLU.ORG

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