During Monday’s Canyon Independent School District meeting, board members decided to put off the vote on vendors for its health curriculum and its process for books to be removed from the classroom and school libraries. A key reason for the tabling of the measure had to do with newly elected board member Paul Blake and giving him time to get up to speed and study the issues related to the measures.
During the public address portion of the meeting, multiple speakers from the community attacked the morality and character of long-serving members of the board, with Superintendent Dr. Darryl Flusche being called out by name.
Local resident Carl Kinsey spoke about an alleged incident at Canyon High School during the spring semester, where a boy had reportedly gone into a girl’s restroom and was run out of the restroom by a teacher. He also alleged that the teacher was reprimanded for their action. He said that the board had not done its job to protect girls in their school district. Kinsey spoke about policies at the district that were responsible for incidents such as this, but no specific policy was mentioned.
“I have been told that the Canyon Independent School District is a public school district and that every student will be protected, but what about the girls that were in that restroom when that boy went in there?” Kinsey inquired. “No, you did not. This district has proven that they will not protect your daughters.”
Much of the public forum portion of the meeting dealt with some lessons and terminology in regard to the health curriculum and manner of teaching of health, including verbiage such as “pregnant person” rather than “woman”. The contention of some of the community commenters was that language such as this promotes an LGBTQ+ definition. Mental health programs and curriculum were attacked as an invasion, and not reflective of the core values of the overall Canyon community by audience members.
Overall, multiple community members speaking at the meeting objected to any mention of LGBQT+ material at all in the school district’s health curriculum. They pushed for a religious ideology to be the basis for the health curriculum and for choices in library materials. Some called for an outright ban of any book that deals with transgenderism in any form in library literature. Also, once again, the assertion was raised that the CISD library is filled with pornographic materials.
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CISD said it is postponing its vote on the approved health curricula so that all board members can study the decided providers in more detail. The board also decided that it would postpone the vote for its new measures regarding challenges to books that parents deem inappropriate for school libraries. In the proposed plan, any parent could challenge a book, which would trigger a review by a selected panel of educators and parents to review the title in question. If removed, the book would not be available in any library within the district.
Board member Linda Hinders affirm that this process will not just remove books due to the random objectionability of any one set of particular beliefs, and the district will still make sure that a wide range of materials is available to students, regardless of religious or personal beliefs . According to policy, no books will be removed due to the ideas that they express. According to the proposed policy, the final criteria will be the appropriateness of the resources for their intended usage.
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Members of the CISD board pushed back on the comments directed at them in public comments as not being morally fit to do their jobs or not having the best interests of the students in mind when making decisions or following policies.
Hinders spoke that they as board members care about the decisions that they make and wanted to give new board member Blake needed time to review the materials.
CISD board member Randy Darnell also pushed back against the attacks on the faith and character of board members by some made during public comment.
“I take offense of any out there that say I do not love my daughters, or that I do not care about kids,” Darnell said. “It is absurd to criticize people that are serving this community for free to do a respectable job for this school district. Not one person on this board picked a book for this district. If there are any books that are inappropriate, we will get them out. I really do not think we have many in this district. I think the tenor of the meeting could be helped if there was more respect for the people on this board.”
Both tabled agenda items are expected to be addressed in the July CISD meeting.
Upon further review, Flusche said that there was no evidence that any of the details of the alleged restroom incident, described during the public comment portion of the meeting, ever happened.