Canyon schools postpone votes on health curriculum and book review policy
At Monday’s Canyon Independent School District meeting, board members decided to postpone voting on vendors for its health program and process for removing books from classrooms and school libraries. One of the main reasons for tabling the measure had to do with newly elected board member Paul Blake giving him time to get up to speed and consider matters related to the measures.
During the public address portion of the meeting, several community speakers attacked the morals and character of longtime council members, with Superintendent Dr. Darryl Flusche being called out by name.
Local resident Carl Kinsey spoke of an alleged incident at Canyon High School during the spring semester where a boy allegedly walked into a girl’s bathroom and was chased out of the bathroom by a teacher. He also alleged that the teacher had been reprimanded for his gesture. He said the board had failed to do its job to protect the girls in their school district. Kinsey spoke about district policies that were responsible for incidents like this, but no specific policies were mentioned.
“I was told that the Canyon Independent School District is a public school district and that every student will be protected, but what about the girls who were in that bathroom when that boy walked in?” Kinsey asked. “No, you didn’t. This district has proven that they won’t protect your daughters.”
Much of the public forum portion of the meeting focused on some lessons and terminology regarding the health curriculum and how to teach health, including verbiage such as “pregnant person” rather than “woman.” The claim from some of the community commenters was that language like this promotes an LGBTQ+ ideology. Mental health programs and programs were attacked as an invasion and did not reflect the core values of the entire Canyon community by members of the public.
Overall, several community members who spoke at the meeting opposed any mention of LGBQT+ materials in the school district’s health curriculum. They lobbied for a religious ideology to be the basis of the health curriculum and choices in library materials. Some have called for an outright ban of any books dealing with transgender in any form in library literature. Also, once again the claim has been raised that CISD’s library is filled with pornographic material.
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CISD said it was deferring its vote on the approved health programs so that all board members could study the chosen providers in more detail. The council also decided to postpone voting on its new measures regarding challenges to books that parents deem unsuitable for school libraries. Under the proposed plan, any parent could challenge a book, which would trigger a review by a select panel of educators and parents to review the title in question. If removed, the book would no longer be available in any district library.
Board member Linda Hinders emphasized that this process will not just remove books due to the random objectivity of a particular set of beliefs, and that the district will always ensure that a wide range of materials is available to students, regardless of their religious or personal beliefs. . In accordance with the policy, no book will be deleted solely because of the ideas it expresses. According to the proposed policy, the final criterion will be the suitability of the resources for their intended use.
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Members of the CISD Board of Directors have pushed back against comments directed at them in public comments as not being morally fit to do their jobs or not having the best interests of students in mind when make decisions or follow policies.
Hinders said that as board members, they cared about the decisions they made and wanted to give new board member Blake time to review the materials.
CISD board member Randy Darnell also pushed back against attacks on the faith and character of board members by some in public comments.
“I take offense to anyone who says I don’t love my girls or don’t care about kids,” Darnell said. “It is absurd to criticize people who serve this community for free to do respectable work for this school district. Not a single person on this board has chosen a book for this district. If there are books that are inappropriate, we will release them. I really don’t think we have many in this neighborhood. I think the tenor of the meeting could be helped if there was more respect for the members of this board.
The two tabled agenda items are expected to be addressed at the July CISD meeting.
Upon further investigation, Flusche said there was no evidence that any of the details of the alleged restroom incident, described during the public comment portion of the meeting, ever happened.