Harford County School Unions Voice Concerns Over Board Member's Remarks On Gender Ideology
HAVRE DE GRACE - Unions representing Harford County Public Schools teachers and staff have pushed back on some comments made by Board of Education member Diane Alvarez during a March 23 town hall meeting.
Alvarez attended an “Exposing Gender Ideology” town hall event in Carroll County on March 23. The event was hosted by Moms for Liberty, a conservative political advocacy group focusing on parental rights in schools.
During the event, Alvarez asked Kathleen Goonan, director of parent advocacy at Genspect, a question about how to push back against parents who support children discussing their pronouns in public schools.
“I’ve been getting out to the schools. I was in an elementary school recently, and the children were wearing their pronouns,” Alvarez said. “The principal stated that their parents had encouraged it. As a board member where we have parents that are coming in and saying, ‘My child is a they, and they haven’t decided yet, so we want you to refer to them as they,’ how do we fight?”
Goonan told Alvarez that parents who do not want their children learning about gender ideology and pronouns should push back, making their voices heard at town hall meetings.
“My request is different,” Goonan replied. “they are obviously a boy or a girl, and I don’t want them asked to wear a button that says their pronouns. You’re going to play a dual game for a while. I’ve been going to the school board meetings in Harford County. When the bulk of the parents talking about this topic were advocating for social transition, they were thanking the school for transitioning their kids. So, we are going to have to bring the presence forward of those who didn’t agree and ask them to meet our needs as well.”
Unions and advocacy groups, including The Association of Public School Administrators and Supervisors, the Association of Harford County Administrative, Technical and Supervisory Professionals, and the Harford County Education Association, took issue with Alvarez’s comments, and sent a letter to the Board Member, calling her remarks “exclusive.”
“The mission of Harford County Public Schools is each student will attain academic and personal success in a safe and caring environment that honors the diversity of our students and staff,” the letter reads. “Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that you have made several comments that are inappropriate, inaccurate, and most disturbingly, exclusive.”
“Bottom line, your conduct is making others feel unwelcomed and undervalued, which is contrary to Harford County Public Schools’ mission. As an elected system leader, it is an expectation that you represent ALL students. You must vacate your personal views to examine information and situations from a variety of perspectives,” the letter continued.
The letter also rebukes comments made by Alvarez indicating that she wants to “flip” the Board of Education to make it more conservative.
In a follow-up email sent on April 1, the Unions said that Alvarez did not respond to their request for a meeting to discuss these topics. The letter also refers to alleged comments made by Alvarez during Harford County Public School’s Equity tour.
“Equity tour participants shared the various inappropriate comments you made based on skin color and appearance,” the letter states.
Alvarez participated in an equity tour earlier this year. During the tours, administrators and school board members visited schools and observed classes in session. The tours are intended to inform officials about how HCPS creates an inclusive environment for all students.
Alvarez responded to the letter in a statement provided to the Baltimore Sun through an HCPS spokesperson, saying, “I believe HCPS should adopt a policy on pronoun usage.”
Another statement was issued on behalf of the school system: “The administration has looked into the information Ms. Alvarez shared about a student wearing a pronoun,” the statement reads. “We are unable to confirm that any school has engaged in an activity requiring students to wear pronouns. Our schools do have a long-standing practice during National Reading Week where students may choose a favorite word to wear on a “Wear your Word” day; the words selected are typically vocabulary words recently learned or a word that is special to that student.”
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