This article was updated on Aug. 10.

A petition calling for a “STOP” to the Lexington elementary schools “Serious Talks” program, which teaches students about diversity — including themes like race, culture, religion, disability, and gender identity — was posted on the petition-sharing website earlier this month, prompting this response from Lexington Public Schools Superintendent Julie Hackett, which was emailed to parents in the district last on July 14. 

The petition raises concerns about whether material related to gender and sexual orientation is age-appropriate for elementary school children, and suggests that teaching about gender identity, including transgender identity, might conflict with religious and family preferences for some members of Lexington’s diverse community. The petition also complains of a purported lack of transparency on the part of the schools in implementing this program.

The petition’s creator is listed as “Concerned Lexington Parents Asking for your help.” It is unclear who exactly those concerned parents are, and there is no way to contact the creator through A ticker on the site indicates that the petition has garnered more than 1,000 signatures, but the signatories’ names are not visible, so there is no way to know whether or not they are Lexington residents. is a global site, and anyone can sign any petition. The site uses algorithms to highlight certain petitions on its homepage, email newsletter, browse page, and in recommendations at the bottom of each petition. People who sign a petition are prompted to donate money to help promote the petition on and to share it on their social media feeds. 

A person using the name “Calvin Lafayette” was the first to share the petition on both the Facebook group Lexington Parents and the online group Lex-PolRel, where residents can discuss issues related to politics and religion, but there is no one by that name living in Lexington according to town census information shared by the Town Clerk’s office. The Facebook post has been removed and Calvin Lafayette is no longer listed as a member of Lexington Parents.

Names were visible for users who decide to leave a comment on the petition, and by clicking on the names, it was possible to see the users’ location. A quick scan of the 30 or so comments posted showed people located in Jacksonville, FL and Brooklyn, NY, among other places across the country, though most listed their locations as Lexington. 

“This topic is not appropriate for kids in elementary school,” one person wrote in the comments. “LPS should respect the law, as well as diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious values. It’s time to have a serious talk about ‘serious talks,'” wrote another. The comments are no longer visible to the public.

On August 2, Dr. Hackett sent another email to the LPS School Community alerting residents of a postcard that many people received in their mailboxes, again calling for a stop to the Serious Talks Curriculum and including a QR code linking to the petition. The postcard says “Lexington Public Schools” in large letters at the top, confusing some recipients who at first thought the missive was sent by the school district. It is unclear who sent the postcards.

Serious Talks was introduced at the Bowman Elementary School in 2010, and elements have since been adopted by teachers at Harrington and Estabrook. “Over the course of their elementary experience, students are introduced — in age-appropriate ways — to various visible and invisible identities we hold in the communities to which we belong,” Superintendent Julie Hackett wrote in her response. “There are lessons about how to have respectful conversations, and how to understand perspectives that are different from our own. Each lesson is developmentally appropriate and part of a yearlong sequence that has been thoughtfully designed to honor our diverse community,” she wrote.

A sample first grade lesson, described in this presentation to Estabrook parents last year, involves reading the book “And Tango Makes Three,” based on the true story of two male penguins who raise a baby penguin chick together in the Central Park Zoo. Students are asked to think about how the family in the story is similar or different from their own family. 

Most lessons have nothing to do with gender. First graders interview a grandparent or other relative about family customs like traditional foods and religious holidays. Students in one 3rd grade class read “The Name Jar,” about a Korean girl who moves to the US and, after thinking of changing her name from Unhei to Suzy or Amanda, learns to love her own name. The book “How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down,” about the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, helps introduce the civil rights movement.

Hackett points to numerous efforts at transparency and communication around the curriculum, including the 2018 strategic planning process that involved parents, students, teachers and other members of the community, school-wide and classroom emails and information sessions, and individual meetings between parents, teachers and administrators. 

While some parents have asked to see the curriculum, “the topics in our Serious Talks lessons are inspired by what goes on in the classroom,” Hackett explained to LexObserver. “We have curriculum overviews with topics broadly identified, and we share this information with our families, along with many other outreach efforts,” she said. “We don’t have scripted lessons written out because teachers differentiate the lessons depending on the needs of the children in their classroom.” 

Parent Shannon Davis echoed this in recounting her child’s experience. Students in 2nd grade were asked about how they would describe their own identity. “It was very much what the kids wanted other kids to know about,” she recalled. “Because there wasn’t anyone in the class with a different gender identity, that’s not what they talked about,” she said. Instead, students mostly talked about their cultural or ethnic background. But, if there were a student who wanted to talk about their gender identity, Davis believes it’s important to do so. “Gender identity often forms in children who are trans around age 3 or 4, so it’s not like you’re not going to have trans kids in your school – you will,” she said. 

“Children know and see differences, even ‘hidden’ ones,” said Jeri Zeder, whose kids attended Lexington public schools. “When children do not get the education they need to understand these differences, put them in context, and process healthy ways to respond, we do them a terrible disservice.”

The petition claims that the Serious Talks “gender ideology teachings” fall under MA General Law – Part I, Title XII, Chapter 71, Section 32A, which states that parents should be notified about the teaching of human sexuality and given the opportunity to opt out. But Hackett says that rule doesn’t apply here — the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which administers Section 32A, has said that the regulations don’t apply to materials that promote tolerance, including differences in sexual orientation, “without further instruction on the physical and sexual implications.” The Serious Talks program focuses on identity and inclusion, not sex and sexuality. 

“Some parents are saying you can’t talk about a family with two moms or two dads without talking about sex, but there is no sex in the book ‘And Tango Makes Three’ — the baby is adopted!” says Davis, who is part of a two-mom family. The point, she says, is that “you are going to see families that are different than yours, and they are ok too.”

This is not the first time this issue has come to a head in Lexington. In 2005, an Estabrook parent was arrested after refusing to leave school property until he was allowed to opt his child out of classroom discussions about same-sex couples. The parent had been concerned by a book his child brought home called “Who’s in a Family,” that talks about different family arrangements, and includes families with two moms or two dads. 

But Hackett does not see this as a wide-spread sentiment. “Community members, parents, teachers, staff, and students, overwhelmingly expressed support for Bowman’s Serious Talks to be scaled up and implemented in other schools,” Hackett told LexObserver. “My general sense is that most Lexington residents support the Serious Talks curriculum.”

LexObserver tried reaching out to some of the parents who have been outspoken in their opposition to Serious Talks but did not receive any responses by the time of publication. 

“Children can’t learn if they don’t feel psychologically and emotionally safe,” Hackett said. “Serious Talks and other curricula in our school system matter because kids develop the language, skills, and sensitivities that they need to treat one another with dignity and respect and learn how to thrive in an increasingly diverse society.”

Serious Talks will be discussed at the first School Committee meeting of the year on August 29, 2023 and all members of the school community are welcome to attend. 

Join the Conversation


  1. I disagree with petitions that are anonymous. If you feel a certain way, you should state it.

  2. As a resident who has lived in Lexington for 48 years I support the school system and Superintendent Hackett. The teachers and the curriculum advisors are reflecting the communities belief in diversity.

  3. Two daughters have gone through this program in the past couple years and nothing but great things to say about how LPS helps celebrate both the commonalities and differences in our community. My daughters have loved sharing family traditions and customs and learning and building trust with their peers.

  4. Isn’t the point of signing a petition to put your name on the line as supporting the cause? I hope the names are at least visible to the SC. Otherwise it’s not even worth responding to- they could all be bots, right?

  5. As a Lexington resident whose four children went through our schools, I thoroughly support the Serious Talks program. Children benefit from learning about and celebrating diverse cultures, families, religions, customs, and identities. Anonymous petitions that aim to shut down programs such as Serious Talks should be strongly rejected.

  6. Our schools are doing a great service by fostering these discussions through Serious Talks. Facilitating understanding through group conversations, rather than mere prescriptive moralizing, is likelier to lead to a more nuanced sense of empathy in our kids as they grow up. It’s more probable they will see their respect for others as being tied to the experiences in which they found pride in themselves, and then apply that sense to any particular way they differ from each other. Far from disrespecting the traditions of families in our town, this curriculum will allow our children to be more thoughtful citizens than we are. They will see differences of opinion/ideology as part of a healthy and free community. I’m currently reading Black Earth, the analysis of the Holocaust by Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder. Again and again, it details how collaboration of various regions was not tied to their prior history of discrimination, but resistance was tied to a continued shared sense of citizenship with the minorities being targeted. I can understand why some families might misperceive this curriculum as advocacy of one difference over another, but I hope they come to see it as no such thing, just as one more way we are trying to safeguard our childrens’ futures.

  7. LPS is teaching facts (people with all kinds of identities exist) and behavioral expectations (treat people with kindness and respect), not opinions (Muslim or disabled or transgender or fill-in-the-blank people are superior or they are abominations).
    Refusing to acknowledge the existence of people with certain identities gives the impression that they are too unworthy or terrible to speak about — which is harmful. And we certainly should not send the message that it’s okay to disparage or harm someone at school because of their identity.
    I appreciate LPS and Lexington Education Association (see their letter to the editor) for their positive approach to honoring the diversity of our community.

  8. Raised by nonbelievers I came up through a school system that celebrated Christmas as if the biblical story of Jesus was Truth. Luckily for me my family realized that in a pluralistic society it is impossible to have a school curriculum everybody will be comfortable with. With that attitude parents do not expect the school to do their parenting. They talk to their kids about what they learned in school. They explain their viewpoint. Those who realize their children must get along with classmates, do not make a big deal of the differences. Sometimes it’s difficult, but when your children understand your point of view you can trust them to think things through as they grow older.

  9. I’ve been a special education teacher for 30 years. I’ve taught in two states, including several districts in MA. Students in Lexington are far more tolerant and empathetic towards their peers who have different learning needs than other districts. When students are taught to think and reflect on our differences in strategic ways, they not only become kinder, they become more capable of handling change, dealing with challenges, and asserting themselves in positive ways. Lexington students will be much better prepared for the future, which will certainly hold challenges that we cannot imagine. Programmed curriculum such as Serious Talks gives students opportunities to practice critical thinking skills about real life situations.

  10. This is excellent reporting. Personally, I can’t imagine what public education is for if it is not about helping people help each other live together in community. Appreciating and communicating about difference seems to me like the most important skill the public schools can teach, and I therefore strongly support the “serious talks curriculum.”

  11. I read all but two of the books listed on the curriculum that Dr Hackett shared for the June Estabrook meeting (although I missed the meeting). Many of the stories are endearing and age appropriate. I don’t actually understand the Two Bad Ants book – no concerns with it as a story, I just don’t understand the lesson in it. I think that last point probably aligns to many parents who have concerns with the curriculum, they just don’t understand what will be taught and how. When I read A Fire Engine for Ruthie – it’s clear that the story is sharing that gender stereotypes are just that, stereotypes but not facts. And that girls can prefer fire engines over dolls. I assume the teachers will share the opposite as well – that boys can like to play with dolls etc. However this is where I am Jazz concerns me – not because the child is born a boy and identifies as a girl – but because the book talks about how they always liked unicorns, pink, gymnastics (ie typical girl things from a stereotype perspective) and that it didn’t bother them when their brothers told them those were things that girls like. So now, I am wondering how the teacher will address the contrast between those two books and that it’s ok for boys to like pink (as an example) but that doesn’t mean they identify as girls etc. It’s just a complex topic. It’s not that I don’t respect how people identify and it’s not that I don’t want my child to show empathy and be inclusive. I just don’t understand how the curriculum for that specific section will be taught to ages 6-7 and I’d like to understand it. I am preparing myself to answer my child’s questions and support their learning but not all parents will be able to prepare themselves without support and without understanding the lessons themselves. That’s why I keep putting in comments that I think parents should ask for demo lessons. And why I hope LPS will offer them. It’s a way to alleviate concerns and educate families. It has the potential to spread inclusivity too. It also shows tolerance for the “other side” and shows care and compassion to try and help those people grow in knowledge.
    I didn’t sign that petition and I shared my reasons with those who sent it to me. I do have concerns with some of the content for ages 6-7 as I’ve noted above. But I don’t disagree with the overall curriculum. And it’s been on my to do list to share those with SI. Although my concerns are moderate and come from a place of wanting to understand and I don’t personally agree with the very strongly conservative views that some are sharing via the petition, I don’t think it helps that some on the other side are so strong in their comments that it’s shutting down the conversations. And it feels like everyone who has any concern is lumped together as if they are evil to have concerns – that is going to scare people from sharing at all. Many of the books on the curriculum teach about understanding and willingness to learn about others – if we create an environment where people have to hide their concerns (even moderate concerns), that will breed an environment that we don’t want. We need tolerance on all sides to make any progress.
    I recommend taking the books out of the library. Read them for yourself. Read them with your kids. I’ve read all but I am Jazz to my child. I’m working my way up to that one as I think about how to address the “pink” comment – it’s a great color that people of all genders/non binary enjoy! But we’ve already talked about how people identify at a high level and how we show respect for it,
    Long comment and I’ve bared enough to be wary of responses but truly, we need to be able to converse with each other – its the only positive way forward,

    1. I really appreciate your thoughts. I love that you read the books and thought about your response to them. That’s what we all need to be doing, rather than jumping to conclusions. I appreciate your point that not everyone who has questions about the curriculum is trying to shut it down. One of the things that might help is parent hand-outs to accompany what is happening in the classroom. I fully support the curriculum that my son went through but having a handout to guide discussion at home would have been great. You know how kids don’t always get the same message out of the lesson as was being taught, and it helps if the parents are ready to discuss.

      1. Thank you Shannon! The handouts is a great idea too. I remember when Estabrook offered a parent book club on math – yes on learning math and how the approach was different than when many of us were kids. It was a nice way to bridge the gap and help set parents up to help their kids. I think that approach could help here as well – whether a demo lesson, handouts, or even a book club.

    2. Hi Lori!

      I’m responding (as an educator who focuses on social development) to your wonderings about how to address the “pink” comment. I’ve worked with a lot of trans and nonbinary youth and thought about this a lot.

      Although stereotypes are not universally true, they are part of the culture folks grow up in, and do influence people’s view on gender. In this story, Jazz’s brothers (especially) and family clearly held some of these stereotypes and communicated them to Jazz. They’re just stereotypes, but because they held them, they noticed that Jazz was different. Jazz’s preferences (and how they relate to stereotypical gender norms) likely played into her growing internal understanding of her own gender identity.

      Even in kindergarten, my daughter heard comments from peers about gender norm stereotypes, so it’s worth discussing. I’d read the book with kids with the following take-aways or questions (related to gender norms):

      – “Her brothers said pink is a girl color! Is that a fact or their opinion? It seems like Jazz agrees. Do you?”

      – “It seems like Jazz really likes wearing dresses. I wonder why. Do you think people treat her differently when she does?”

      – “Jazz seems happiest when people see her as a girl, the way she feels on the inside. How does she use her clothing, hair, and other things to “show” people she’s a girl?”

      With older kids, I use the term “gender expression” to describe these external markers of gender. Trans folks will (sometimes, definitely not always) lean into gender expression norms that are clear markers (fit stereotypical gender norms) of their gender identity because they want people around them to know who they are on the inside. Is it weird that folks need to rely on stereotypes to express themselves? Maybe, but we can’t pretend that gender norms and stereotypes don’t exist.

      I’d love to talk more about it next time I see you in person! Hope the summer is going well!

      1. Hi Andrew – I really appreciate your response. I’m glad we can have a conversation and be open to differing perspectives. I’m going to reflect on the points you made a bit more. I still have concerns with that book and whether it’s the best one for ages 6-7. I shared my concerns and questions with Dr Hackett, who was very open to my point of view, she included a number of LPS staff on her response so I should be hearing more soon. I’m curious which teachers will facilitate these discussions which is part of what I emailed her (is it the 1st grade classroom teacher or a specials tracker? If classroom teacher, do they receive additional training/support to be able to facilitate these topic discussions for this age?) And while I appreciate your points about Jazz’s family holding the outdated stereotypes, I still question if that part of the story is really needed at this age, or if it reinforces those stereotypes. Why Jazz feels like a girl is very personal to her and is more complex than liking unicorns and dresses. I’m not sure it’s our job to understand her reasoning and certainly not our role to approve/disapprove of it. Especially for ages 6-7, I would like to see more of an emphasis on acceptance without trying to explain the why – so-so born a boy wants to be called Kate and is comfortable identifying as a girl (without explaining what identifying as a girl means – Bc frankly it means a lot more than dresses and it’s different for each woman), does it change the type of friend they are? No. Should it change how we treat them? No, other than calling them Kate and referring to them as “she/her” as they requested. I think the simpler we can be with that age, the better. But I am going to further reflect on what you shared.
        Take care,

    3. Very much agree on everything you discussed. I love most of the books except for “I am Jazz”. That book is very concerning to me, not about the inclusion of transgender persons, but how they choose to describe it. The way they have it in the book sounds exactly like gender stereotyping. What’s wrong about boys loving beautiful things or having best friends who are girls? To use this book in the curriculum will only introduce confusion and enforcing gender stereotyping, which is the opposite of “being inclusive” that we want to teach the children. There must be other better choice for this issue.

  12. I don’t understand where the article and comments are coming from. I looked up the petition and it says “request time and space for the entire community to engage in discussions, review, and approve the content that will be taught to our children.”. It’s not about a permanent stop/removal. I think you and the LPS management should be focusing on how to respond, open up to the petitioners rather than painting them as anti-LGBTQIA+ bigots.

    1. The program has been in effect since 2010, so requesting time and space to review and approve it is essentially the same as asking for the program to stop. Also, and you may already have seen this, but Julie Hackett has posted upcoming opportunity for feedback. Hopefully, anyone in the district who is genuinely interested in discussion will take advantage of this time.
      From Ms. Hackett: “As noted in my previous communication, all are welcome to join us at the upcoming School Committee meeting on 8/29. We plan to discuss the Serious Talks curriculum and ways that we plan to improve communication and outreach moving forward. If you are a member of our school community who is interested in sharing your views on Serious Talks (or any school-related matters), there will be opportunities for you to provide public input at this meeting.”

    2. Perhaps if “they” were more up-front about who “they” are, this wouldn’t seem like it is coming from outside our community, John, especially since this has been part of the curriculum for a long time. Why is this all so anonymous?

  13. Lexington parents have a right to parent their own children — not everyone’s children.

    We have a democratically elected school committee. We have the school committee that a majority of Lexington residents have decided they agree with. And, through the school committee, we have an LPS administration whose policies reflect the views of a majority of Lexington residents. I suspect that if we lived in a town where the democratically elected school board held the same views as the people behind this petition and a parent started a, the parent would be told, sorry, it’s the will of the people.

    If the people behind this petition really believe that they represent the views of a large segment of Lexington residents, they should run for school committee. Unlike with a, they would have to put themselves before the voters in public forums and answer questions about their opinions about issues.

    Finally, in my opinion, change.orgs in general, or any “petition”, are not a basis for decision making, because they only collect signatures from people who agree, unlike a local referendum question on a ballot, where you can vote “yes” or “no”. Also, with a there is no way to vet the signatures to ensure that only voting age residents of Lexington are signing.

  14. My kids went to Bowman. I was so proud when I learned our school staff created and piloted the curriculum. I was also grateful that our school was starting these conversations about identity and inclusion with our children–it helped create a common vocabulary at home. Our school staff communicated to parents throughout, letting us know what to expect and what topics were covered. Serious Talks is a thoughtful and intentional approach and I am glad we have it.

  15. Our kids went to Estabrook, there has never been any indication that anything “inappropriate” has ever been approached, let alone discussed. Teaching children to respect each other, no matter what their background, beliefs or how they see themselves are *exactly* the lessons that need to be taught, especially in the world as it is today. Kids need to know that school is a safe place where they can be heard and are able to approach a teacher or counselor with whatever they may need academically, personally or emotionally.

    I fully support the Serious Talks curriculum and am proud to live in an area that prioritizes these types of discussions / lessons. I hope Dr. Hackett and the rest of the LPS board sick to their convictions and don’t entertain this bigotry hiding behind a veil that respecting others is somehow “harmful” to children.

  16. The postcard, likely funded by outsiders to stoke outrage, did the job.

    I’m outraged- just not in the political direction they intended.

    I grew up as an Asian American in rural Alabama and know EXACTLY what it means to be excluded. And I recognize the kind of anti-inclusive language being used in that petition. The petition backers should be ashamed of themselves and I assume that they are– that’s why they didn’t publish their names.

    As the response above says- “Most lessons have nothing to do with gender.”– but like the bathroom controversy in North Carolina and other related topics, these people seem obsessed by these kind of topics.

    We, as a town, have better things to spend our energy on.

  17. “There is a right time for everything…” and I believe it is a major argument of petition and of parents who question the “Serious Talks”.

    These topics are beyond the Elementary school level. When and if my kids have questions, I’d be happy to discuss and set them onto tolerance path. However, I don’t want these “hot” topics to be part of curriculum in our Elementary school, especially when there is SO much controversary in our adult society. Let’s stick with multiplication tables, cursive, and friendships. Middle or High school is more age appropriate.

    With 5 kids through elementary schools over the last 25 years in Lexington, not once did our family encounter issues (and yes, we had friends from different families while no such curriculum was taught).

    1. If you click the link at the beginning of the article for the information from the school department you will see that the curriculum is absolutely age appropriate. Unless you think the “topic” of making all children feel safe and welcome is inappropriate.

  18. What is the actual curriculum? There are references to comments and articles that seem one sided but not the curriculum itself. All parents should have simple access to it and can read it plainly. What I see are a lot of opinions and they don’t mean much without facts. I’d like to thoughtfully consider both sides of this to decide for myself. I do have two kids in Lex schools. Please share a direct link to the Serious Talks curriculum via Parent Square. Thanks.

  19. I’m eager to explore this more at the upcoming school committee meeting and beyond. I realize folks are concerned, but I think this comes out of a lack of understanding and a feeling of not being heard, valued, seen, or included in the decision. My hope is that a process of discourse, in good faith, will address all of these issues.

    I sincerely encourage folks with concerns to show up with clearly outlined, specific concerns (“I am worried that this will negatively affect my kid by _______”) that can be addressed. Abstract concerns and sentiments keep the conversation in an ideological space, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s job to change someone else’s ideology. I do think, however, that teachers and administration have a responsibility to hear and address or allay concrete concerns.

    I also hope that people with concerns will be able to provide context for their concerns and maintain an open mind. If you are concerned that discussing things like this will make your kid trans, then be ready to look at what research has shown about your concern. If you have research you want to cite that supports your concern, show up with it and be ready to discuss (in the future, as the conversation continues) its methodology and make sense of how it fits into the larger body of research. And if your concern isn’t supported by research, please be willing to separate your own beliefs and feelings from observed facts. It’s okay to still be worried, but understand that curriculum can’t be driven by worries; it has to be driven by research.

    Finally, please remember the research-based observable impact of not discussing these topics. Queer kids who don’t feel supported by their community are statistically more anxious, more depressed, and more at-risk. This curriculum is designed to keep kids in our community safe.

  20. I agree that not everyone concerned is opposed to teaching tolerance. But giving teachers an open book to create content as the see fit is concerning. My concern, as an aunt and grandmother, and as a mechanical engineer is the lack of balance. I had a niece who liked pink, rhinestones, princesses, and making things with wood. Her teacher had taught her to dislike the side of her that liked pink.

    Also, I found out that my siblings lied to my nephews about being Colonial Europeans. Because the first grade teacher had a reputation for being very into the history of slavery, and, naively, came across as very anti-white. We later found out that they weren’t the only white parents who felt this lie to be necessary, it was sort of the norm for parents with a Colonial European ancestry. In Newton of all places. Lying shouldn’t be shouldn’t be a necessary part of preparing a child for public school. No matter what ancestry a child has.

  21. I’m just seeing this curriculum for the first time. I’m struck by language like “Students will learn the importance of skin color as one part of their identity…” That sounds pretty racist to me. Can’t we let six year olds be free of such burdens? If anything, shouldn’t we be teaching little kids their skin color *doesn’t* matter?
    The same goes for “gender.” If we want to challenge stereotypes and bias, teaching kids that these are important parts of their identity may have the opposite effect.
    It’s also not clear from this curriculum if students will be taught to use “preferred” pronouns. I think that’s at the heart of a lot of this controversy because language implies identities that are associated with certain rights. Schools shouldn’t be taking sides on controversial issues that divide adults.
    The curriculum is also striking in what it leaves out. There is nothing that I can see about sex or class or national origin, which are all kinds of diversity grounded in material reality. There also doesn’t seem to be anything about religion or just different ways of thinking. These forms of diversity are much more likely to be relevant to a classroom of little kids than topics about gender and sexuality. It’s hard not to notice how closely this curriculum aligns with the interests of one political party.
    There seems to be a lot of good content too about recognizing and respecting diversity. So it feels awkward to oppose the whole program. But surely we can do much better. I suggest we let little kids be little kids. We can introduce ideas about diversity and respect in more subtle ways. Let’s teach kids how they are all the same, have the same potential, and are loved no matter what *first*. Let’s save the “Serious Talk” about how adults have been messing up the world for older kids who are better equipped to think critically about these topics.

    1. Although I appreciate much of what you are saying hear, when you say that skin color and gender are not part of one’s identity you are going back to “I don’t see color,” but we now know better. Of course we see color (and gender) and so do six year olds and there is absolutely nothing wrong in naming that. It only gets complicated because the adults have prescribed meaning to those terms that speak to differences in power.

    2. I mentioned in a different post that my daughter was in first grade a Bowman in 2010 when development of the Serious Talks curriculum began. This is all age appropriate, so little kids are still allowed to be little kids. This is not sex education, this is creating an environment in which all of the little kids and their families feel safe and welcomed. My daughter is smart and perceptive. I had a conversation with her about all this when she was at LHS. Her opinion is that no matter the age and grade, the kids in Lexington are already light years ahead of the questions their parents are asking.

    3. “Schools shouldn’t be taking sides on controversial issues that divide adults.”
      Civil rights for Black Americans were one such controversial topic. So were the treatment of Italian and Irish Americans, suffrage for women, treatment of Jewish and Muslim folks… so many “controversial topics” that are not actually worthy of being up for debate because they deal with basic human rights, decency, and respect. To weigh both sides of this argument equally is to say trans people are not worthy of decency and respect.
      Furthermore, you say to save the “Serious Talk” for older kids. But young children do not live in a vacuum. There are children who have queer and trans siblings, parents, friends, classmates, neighbors, and there are children who will sooner or later realize that they themselves are trans. We are finally getting to a place where being trans is not a taboo, where trans people can live their lives as they need to. Introducing basic lessons on gender identity to these kids is just part of integrating them into society, and that’s a society which includes trans people.
      There’s nuance to this beyond saying that gender or skin color should be something that defines you. I cannot believe in good faith that that is what LPS is teaching— said as someone who went there for K-12 with siblings going there now. I believe they are promoting kindness, inclusivity, and equity. Nothing to panic about.

  22. Why all the fear? These concerned parents need to have more confidence in the trained professionals (teachers and child development specialists). Our kids can handle differences in culture, gender, and families often better than the adults. And as a community, we need to create a culture that protects All children, no matter what their story is. Please take a breath, unnamed “concerned Lexington parents” and understand that not all change is threatening or wrong. Together we need to work to have All children safe, seen, valued and appreciated.

    1. Why all the fear? I think it stems from the superintendents letter stating they will not share the curriculum and if you don’t like it, home school your kids. Basically, parents don’t have the right to know what the school is teaching your kids in public school. Sounds like a power trip to me and someone has something to hide and/or gain from this.

  23. Nice to see the thoughtful exchange on this site, including the chance to read coments by people who question the pedagogy and efficacy of the Serious Talks program.

    I heard little of their opinions at the School Committee meeting last night. And I can see why.

    Clearly, the many people who spoke and cheered in favor of Serious Talks last night did not appear open to criticism or question.

    Would have liked to hear mention of an opt-out provision for parents who don’t want their kids involved in a program that sounds a lot like social indoctrination.

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