By Eliza Kruczynski
SOUTHINGTON, Connecticut (WFSB) — A protest over a vocabulary sheet that a Southington High School teacher handed out took place tonight.
A 10th grade English teacher handed out a vocab list before a reading assignment that had some words that she wanted to clarify and define.
Some of those words included cisgender, transgender, and white supremacy.
While some parents are upset about this, the school district says they are standing behind their teacher.
“Let me be clear, moving forward, I support this teacher and all teachers in our district,” said a Board of Education member.
This controversial document has the community of Southington divided.
Protocols were not followed regarding the material in this assignment, which has some people upset.
“They should not feel ashamed, they should not be taught to put everyone else first, are superior or inferior, must act as a victim or owed something because of the pigment of their skin. There is only one race, the human race, and that is what everyone should be teaching,” said a concerned community member.
Parents who stand in support of the teacher say respectful communication is key.
“Everyone in this room has differences, every single one of you has differences. If we can’t recognize those and figure out how to talk about them respectfully, how are we helping our kids,” said another attendee.
Others say they don’t want these topics taught in the classroom at all.
“The biggest problem is some of the things that it says about what they’re going to teach children. Again, about gender identity, about sexual identity, about things like that. We shouldn’t be teaching young children about that. We shouldn’t even be teaching older children that. That’s for parents,” said David Lamanna, Woodbury.
Some believe these discussions are necessary.
“I want kids talking about themselves. I want kids talking about their identity. I want them to have a common set of vocabulary and common set of language,” said Nathan Wright, Southington.
Many people are saying this worksheet is an example of critical race theory.
Superintendent Madancy says there is absolutely no relevance to critical race theory from this document.
“We don’t teach critical race theory. It’s not part of our curriculum or anywhere within it. It’s a higher academic framework that’s used by institutions, universities, well beyond K-12 public education,” said Superintendent Madancy.
Students also spoke at tonight’s meeting, saying they should be treated with dignity and respect.
“We are not unintelligent, we understand what is going on around us and I believe we deserve every right to have respectful debate in the classroom,” said Evan, a Southington High School Student.
“How can we discuss prejudice without learning what prejudice is? How can we ponder privilege when we deny that it exists?” said Dante, another Southington High School Student. “It is no secret that our town lacks diversity, but that’s mostly out of our control. How we treat one another and respect those who are different is in our control.”
The teacher has been placed on administrative leave.
Southern Connecticut State University faculty wrote a letter to the Southington Board of Education supporting the high school teacher.
The board says they want to prepare their students for life and what is outside of school, and that they support their teachers.
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