Austin elementary school holds Pride parade, instructs students not to reveal what is said in 'community circles'

"Respect privacy: 'What we say in this room stays in this room,'" guidance initially read.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

An Austin elementary school recently held a pride parade through the halls of the school building as a part of their pride week, which also features "community circles" of discussion where students were told to keep the conversation had within the classroom, reports Libs of TikTok.

Students at Doss Elementary School, which serves students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, were seen in a video originally posted to Twitter by the school’s Assistant Principle Hannah Wankel but later deleted, marching through the halls waving pride flags, holding signs, and shouting "pride."

This year's pride parade will be held during Pride week, from March 21-26. The Austin Independent School District's Pride week saw the school decorated in rainbow decorations and various gender and sexual identity flags.

"Each campus will receive an inspiration guide of suggested activities for PRIDE Week. Campuses are encouraged to plan activities that engage, educate and inspire. If you have any questions regarding planning activities or for assistance in selecting resources that best fit your school community, please contact your campus GSA coordinator or campus counselor," Austin ISD wrote.

"Students and staff, during the week of March 21-25, please visit your campus front office to pick up Pride and Ally stickers, posters, flags, pronoun buttons and more!" The school district instructs.

As part of Pride week, the school will be holding "community circles" in which students will gather to talk about topics relating to the week’s focus.

This week's schedule will be:

  • Monday, March 21 - All Are Welcome and Pride History
  • Tuesday, March 22 - Differences are Awesome
  • Wednesday, March 23 - Know Your Rights
  • Thursday, March 24 - Pride and You - Creative Expression
  • Friday, March 25 - Local Pride and Spirit Day
  • Saturday, March 26 - Connect and Celebrate

Students were asked to agree to keeping the conversations had within these circles within the classroom. "Respect privacy: 'What we say in this room stays in this room,'" guidance initially read. It was reportedly later changed to read "Respect privacy: 'What we say in this room stays in this room.' (Teacher will explain it is ok to share with parents or adults they trust outside the community circle.)"

I was after parents took issue with this fact, the school changed the agreement to state that "teacher will explain it is ok to share with parents or adults they trust outside the community circle."

The original rules of agreement were noted to violate the Texas Education Code, as Libs of TikTok on Twitter revealed.

The code states that: "An attempt by any school district employee to encourage or coerce a child to withhold information from the child’s parent is grounds for discipline under Section 21.104 (Discharge During Year or Suspension Without Pay Under Probationary Contract), 21.156 (Discharge or Suspension Without Pay Under Continuing Contract), or 21.211 (Termination or Suspension), as applicable."

Eduardo Villa, Media Relations Specialist for Austin ISD, who noted in his email signature that his pronouns are "he/him/his," replied to a request for comment from The Post Millennial, saying that "Community circles are confidential in the sense that makes students feel trusted and respected for their privacy when sharing in the conversations –– it does not mean don't tell your parents. Every parent has the right to opt-out of these activities."

"Circles are part of Social Emotional Learning and are used for a variety of speaking topics such as test anxiety, world events, internal conflict resolution, and social justice. The conversation template allows for a process and gives everyone an optional opportunity to speak," he added. "Everyone, not just parents, has access to the materials ahead of time."

This article has been updated with a comment from Doss Elementary.


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