CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A North Carolina school district is receiving backlash from parents over the proposed implementation of a cartoon unicorn designed to help young students learn about gender identity.
Titled the "Gender Unicorn," the purple character, brainchild of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district (CMS), is scheduled to appear on multiple training materials for faculty and staff in order to facilitate the training of students on gender identity issues. The graphic features three expressions of gender identity and expression, with "other" being added to male and female, in addition to added outlets for physical and emotional attraction.
According to CMS, the Gender Unicorn will assist children with discovering who they "go to bed as" and who they "go to bed with." The Gender Unicorn, the district continues, "is a tool used nationally to help explain gender identity terminology. It was used during the principal training session for that purpose only. Our goal remains providing a safe and welcoming school environment where every student can succeed academically and socially."
The material, introduced last week by the school district, is drawing the ire of local parents. "It was really slick marketing," remarked Donica Hudson, whose two children attend CMS schools. "It is friendly looking and deceitful because that unicorn, to me, represents the religion of sex. It is silencing and penalizing those of us who believe we were created male and female and should be able to use those terms."
"I think they should use something else and they should educate teachers on things that are really important that protect the rights of speech and rights of our students," stated Lori Dale, mother of four CMS students in grades ranging from fifth to tenth. "We definitely need to allow for LGBTs to have their say and their voice, but eliminating gender specific pronouns is not the way to do it."
Hudson maintains her position has only been further solidified following an incident last spring in which an adult male entered a public restroom with her 14-year-old daughter.
"She was in the stall and then ran out to find me to tell me how scared she was," the mother recalls. It is situations similar to the incident earlier in the year Hudson is concerned will occur more frequently with the push for transgender acceptance in the CMS schools.
"Introducing this terminology like this to my child without getting my permission through staff and faculty feels like communistic brainwashing," she concludes.
The CMS training literature claims 82 percent of transgender students maintain they feel uncomfortable at school, with 39 percent alleging they have heard derogatory comments in school regarding gender identity.
Statistics like these were cited in the formation of a transgender bathroom policy formed by the school district, which included unfettered bathroom and locker room access for transgender students, in addition to clauses regarding the use of pronouns and names for trans students and guidelines concerning gender-based activities. An announcement last week, however, revealed the proposed policy, which was scheduled to be implemented in late August, has been indefinitely shelved following last Wednesday's decision from the U.S. Supreme Court permitting a Virginia school district to block a transgender student from gaining access to the opposite gender's facilities.
The ruling in question, a 53 split, granted the Gloucester County school board a reprieve from implementing a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until the Supreme Court publicly announces whether it has chosen to hear the school board's appeal. In turn, CMS announced it would also halt the execution of a transgender bathroom policy in its schools, as the ruling from the lower court had been used as the foundation of their transgender regulation.
"CMS remains committed to nurturing a safe and welcoming learning environment for every student," asserted Ann Clark, CMS superintendent, in a statement issued Thursday. "As a result of yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, we have placed a temporary hold on the section of the CMS bullying prevention regulation which states that transgender students will be given access to the restroom and locker room facilities corresponding to their gender identity."
She clarified that the rest of the regulation will remain intact.