EXCLUSIVE: California's Glendale High School accused of disciplining special needs student for using wrong pronouns, teaching LGBTQ sex lessons

"We're not paying teachers... to push their agendas on children," she told city council.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
Glendale mom Marina Vivar took her concerns about what her daughter was being taught in school to the local city council meeting on Tuesday. Her daughter, a freshman at Glendale High, had experienced issues not only with the curriculum, but with her aide, who is part of her daughter's individual education plan.

Vivar told the council that her daughter was taught LGBTQ sex practices and lifestyles in her health class. "We're not paying teachers... to push their agendas on children," she told the city council. Vivar had brought it up with the school, which had conducted an investigation, but found "that it didn't happen," Vivar told the council.

It had been Vivar's intention to not allow the school to teach her child about this kind of sex, yet her daughter came home and explained to her what the lesbian sex act of "scissoring" was. When she reached out to the school to gain access to the permission slip she had sent in to opt her daughter out of these lessons, she was told that the form "was never given to the office," and that the "forms online were never filled out."

Yet further in the email, obtained by The Post Millennial, Dr. Chris Coulter, Director of Teaching and Learning in the Glendale Unified School District, said that it was not even possible for Vivar, or any parent, to excuse their child from lessons in LGBTQ lifestyles and sex practices.

"Even if you filled out the form as you stated," he wrote to Vivar on Friday morning, only a few days after the city council meeting, "the point of my first email was that you can not opt out of only LGBTQ+ topics. The only topic a parent can legally opt out of it on sexual health and reproduction.

"We are updating the form next year to make that for clear to families," Coulter continued. "Thank you for helping us realize that form was in need of updating." He said further that the lessons on sexual health and reproduction had not yet been taught this term, so Vivar could still pull her daughter from those lessons.

However, as Vivar told city council, the damage was already done. Additionally, as Vivar told The Post Millennial, this was not the only issue that came up at school regarding the forced acceptance of LGBTQ lifestyles.

She had tried to speak with the school prior to attending the meeting. However, when she tried to schedule a meeting with the school, she was told that only she would be permitted to attend, not her boyfriend, who is the legal guardian of her daughter (whose father passed a few years ago), and she was told that the lessons did not happen.

"After investigating," reads an email from the school principal Dr. Benjamin Wolf, "I can tell you that your daughter has miscommunicated the class events to you again. At no time were sexual practices discussed. [The teacher] has not gotten to the Sex Ed Unit yet. Relationships were being discussed and teachers do use examples that are inclusive of all students and they do answer student questions. At one point your daughter made loud throwing up noises to show her disagreement and brought up that, at her home, this is against her beliefs. Ms. Kellog reinforced to the class that everyone is entitled to their beliefs but that it's not appropriate to make outbursts or insult other people. That was the extent of it."

"I'm assuming by your emails that you do wish to opt your daughter out of the Sex Ed Unit," Wolf's email continued. "I will remind you that the law does not allow you to opt out of just the parts concerning LGTBQ issues, but you must opt out of the entire unit. [The teacher] will have your daughter and her aid go to a different classroom when that begins."

He then explained that the state mandates these lessons. "LGTBQ and other inclusive topics are, in fact, part of the State curriculum."

"Glendale High holds zero responsibility and gaslight parents," Vivar said. "This issue will be addressed with council meeting today."

"I didn't address it because it didn't happen," Wolf replied. "As we've seen multiple times now from our investigations and speaking to witnesses, your daughter doesn't always represent or fully understand the context of what is said or not said in class and what is being conveyed to you is not accurate. If you wish to have a meeting to hear from the teacher or to discuss your daughter's placement with the IEP team we will gladly arrange it, otherwise this concludes our conversation on this matter."

Vivar's daughter has autism, and due to a traumatic birth, she also has some developmental delays and is in special needs classes.

The school district is required to provide an education for Vivar's daughter, and as part of her in-school services, she has an aide to help her in class. This year, that aide transitioned from female to male, and as part of that transition, required students to refer to her with male pronouns, and to say "mister" instead of "miss" when referring to her. This caused nothing but confusion for Vivar's daughter, and she kept messing it up, finding it impossible to make the sudden switch and get the aide's new identity right.

"So she didn't register with her," Vivar said, "you know, that she needs to make this change especially because she understands the basics of human biology. But they were trying to convince her to get it right.

"They put her in the office several times to tell her 'this is a man.' 'This is a man, this is a man' over and over. It came to the point where she was getting constantly in trouble and I wasn't aware of this because the school doesn't tell you any of this," Vivar said. "I found out maybe about two weeks into this that this was going on."

She asked her daughter why she was having such a tough time at school, and it was only then that she was made aware of the situation at school with the aide. 

"So she's like, 'well, I keep on getting in trouble. And today I got in a lot of trouble because I called my aide 'miss' and it's 'mister.'" Her daughter told her that she didn't understand, because "she has breasts. You can see her breasts but she goes to the boy's bathroom and uses the boy's bathroom. So I guess she's a mister."

Vivar reached out to the school and said "let me take care of it at home instead of you guys continuing to cause her so much distress and disruption and just being stressed out. It came to the point where they wouldn't stop harassing her about the aide now being a guy and she would have panic attacks and she would run to the bathroom.

"She was at the point where she was in class like self harming, so she would get like a pen or a pencil and just stab you know, just kind of like dig the point of the pen or pencil into her leg," Vivar said.

Vivar said that she was told that if her child was not comfortable, she could stay home from school. When she did keep her daughter home from school after the city council meeting this week, she was visited by Child Protective Services. Vivar's daughter is still with her family.

Glendale High School Principal Dr. Benjamin Wolf was reached for comment, and a reply came from Public Information Officer, Kristine Nam. Nam told The Post Millennial that the state of California "requires school districts to provide comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education at least once in middle school and once in high school." She repeated what she told Vivar, that her daughter had "not taken the sex education unit this semester at all. The unit is not scheduled for her class until later in the semester."

As regards the lessons on LGBTQ lifestyles that Vivar objected to, Nam admitted that they had happened, echoing Wolf's previous email saying that sex was not discussed, but rather relationships. The lesson Vivar was referring to, Nam said, "was a general lesson from the health textbook about making emotionally healthy decisions in your relationships. There was a reference in the lesson to LGBTQ+ relationships. However, there was no reference to sex practices or sex acts." 

When asked about the teacher's aide, Nam said "This is completely inaccurate. We are not aware of any staff members at Glendale High School who identify as transgender."

However, another parent, speaking on background, said that Glendale outsources many of their service providers to an outside agency, meaning that it's certainly possible that someone employed by an agency who identifies as trans was providing services. Vivar has never been permitted to meet that aide. 

Kelly King, assistant superintendent with the Glendale School District, spoke about trans-identified staff in an interview. She spoke about how the community came together to support both staff and students when they transition. 

Nam also spoke about the policies regarding staff who transition, saying that "California law and GUSD Nondiscrimination Policy state that every individual on our campuses has a right to be referred to by their preferred pronouns. Should there be an instance where a student or employee uses an individual’s improper pronoun, we would have a conversation to address the issue. The nature of the conversation would take into account the specific situation and any underlying circumstances, including a student’s IEP or English Learner status."

In February, Vivar submitted a "witness statement" about what happened between her daughter and the aide on January 31. "My daughter has verbally let me know that she does not feel comfortable or safe around or speaking to [redacted], her special education needs aide.

"I have expressed my concerns on this matter and indeed acknowledged [my daughter's] needs and complaints. The school has been less than accommodating in this matter." She stated that she considers "this as harassment and bullying," and suggested she may contact law enforcement over the "unwanted contact between" the aide and her daughter."

"No means no," Vivar said.

The situation is currently at an impasse, as Vivar and the school are in a situation where their statements directly contradict one another, and the primary witness is a special needs student. However, Vivar told The Post Millennial that she fears her only option will be to move out of the school district and hope to gain a better education for her daughter.

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