Principal defends transgender discussions during school ’emotional check-in’ with students

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Parents complain that discussions of ‘transgender visibility’ at school’s weekly ’emotional check-ins’ in Georgia ‘promote an agenda’

  • Marietta High School made presentations on ‘transgender visibility’ during the school’s ’emotional check-ins’ at the start of all Monday classes
  • Materials were compiled by the school’s Diversity Club as part of the school district’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) program
  • Parents complained to principal Keith Ball that content about the transgender community was not appropriate for schools
  • Ball argued that the material does not ‘promote an agenda’, but that teachers try to help students to be ‘open-minded’

Marietta High School Principal Keith Ball (pictured) defended 'transgender visibility' presentations made during the school's 'emotional check-ins' at the start of all Monday classes.

Marietta High School Principal Keith Ball (pictured) defended ‘transgender visibility’ presentations made during the school’s ’emotional check-ins’ at the start of all Monday classes.

A Georgia high school principal defended ‘transgender visibility’ discussions held during school to promote diversity and inclusion.

Principal Keith Ball from Marietta High School told me Marietta Daily Journal that the presentations were hosted by and staff from the school’s Diversity Club.

The conversations took place during the first 10 minutes of classes on Monday, as teachers held so-called ’emotional check-ins’.

However, some parents complained to Ball and District Inspector Grant Rivera that club materials were taking up time for classes and whether content about the transgender community is appropriate for schools.

In an email to parents on Thursday, Ball said he understood that parents had ‘major concerns’ and that the discussions were ‘not communicated or conducted in a way consistent with how we do business,’ but defended the talks .

The presentations were ‘devoted to understanding’ [the transgender] community so it wasn’t seen as anything more than a fellow human being, ”Ball told the Journal.

‘And I thought that part of it, they did it right. But when I understand the intensity, the sensitivity and the timing, I understand … it will have a response.

According to Ball, the schools used the first 10 minutes of each lesson on Monday to conduct emotional check-ins with students.

Then, in March, the school’s Diversity Club developed a mini curriculum based on Marietta City Schools District’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) program.

The three faculty who run the club decided to tackle four topics: women’s history, students with disabilities, transgender visibility and general well-being, the Journal reported.

The topics each get their own week and are discussed during Monday’s emotional check-ins with material prepared by the club.

According to Ball, the first two Mondays with the topics were a success.

The Women’s History Week covered topics such as the gender gap and the lack of women in STEM fields, while the Disability Week covered topics such as how different disabilities manifest and the stigma surrounding them.

Parents complained that content about the transgender community was not appropriate for schools, but Ball argued that the material does not “promote an agenda,” but that teachers try to be “open-minded.” Pictured: Marietta High School

Ball told the Journal that the transgender visibility week was held in the same format.

“When the kids and faculty built this, there was a lot of emphasis on understanding terminology, which is overwhelming,” he said.

‘Acronyms, understanding the transition process, … understanding names, from something as relatively familiar as a pronoun, all the way to things that are more complex and intimate compared to what, you know, transgender people want and would appreciate being referred to.

After school on Monday, several parents met with Ball or called to complain – some were annoyed that he never said the topics would be discussed in his weekly newsletter, and others were concerned that the topic was not appropriate.

In the email to parents seen by the Journal, Ball wrote that the discussions were never intended to “promote an agenda,” as some parents may think.

“We are not immune to the national political climate, or the temperature, whatever happens,” he told The Journal on Thursday.

Each topic tends to be an idea that may be promoted by an agenda because, in whole or in part, it depicts a larger story set in spaces such as social media or cable news or even around dining tables.

‘We try to teach [students] be open and critical and question the sources and question the information so that you have what you need to make your own informed decision. ‘

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