The Ames Community School District in Ames, Iowa, has publicly released its plan for a “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action” from Feb. 1-5, which teaches 13 “Guiding Principles,” including being “queer affirming,” “trans affirming,” and “committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure.”
Critics, however, say promoting LGBTQ lifestyles and deliberately undermining the nuclear family do not belong in classroom lessons on race.
“What is being presented as a curriculum goes far beyond a discussion about Black history,” said Lead Pastor Mark Vance of Cornerstone Church of Ames. Vance told KCCI-TV he supports meaningful dialogue on race and justice but is concerned that discussions about sexuality, morality, and the nature of the family may detract from that dialogue.
“As important as it is for our nation to confront racism and correct injustices, ‘disrupting the nuclear family’ is not how you do it,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader. “Children are blessed who grow up with both a mother and a father in God’s design for family. That shouldn’t be ‘disrupted,’ but encouraged.”
Though the school district states the planned “Week of Action” is not formally affiliated with any Black Lives Matter – or BLM – organization, the 13 guiding principles are nearly identical to those used by various BLM organizations around the country. Furthermore, the school district’s suggested resources indicate many originated with a coalition called Black Lives Matter at School, which began in Seattle, Washington, in 2016 and boasts participation from schools in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and more.
Parents and teachers in Ames, however, are raising an eyebrow at implementing the curriculum in Iowa.
“I’ve never been more thankful my child is open enrolled OUT of this school district,” commented Ames mother of two Mollie Marie Boersma on the Ames Community School District’s Facebook page. “I don’t need my kindergartener learning about transgenderism and being taught to ‘support the breakdown of the nuclear family.’ Nope.”
“Last year the BLM materials were introduced to children without any notification to families,” asserted an Ames elementary teacher who contacted The FAMiLY Leader but asked not to be publicly identified. “Today … teachers were told to present two principles a day during social studies time, as well as embed the information in lessons throughout the school year.
“Some teachers do not want to do this,” she said.
A brief review of the suggested teaching materials provided by the district reveals several discussion prompts that touch not only on sexual and family issues, but also on economic, environmental, and other political hot buttons.
Included in the “kid-friendly” version of the 13 principles, for example, which the school district lists as early childhood/elementary resources, is the teaching, “Everybody has the right to choose their own gender by listening to their heart and mind. Everyone gets to choose if they are a girl or a boy or both or neither or something else, and no one else gets to choose for them.”
The school district also provides a “Justice for Trayvon Tool-Kit” for middle schoolers, which opens with a quote equating capitalism with racism: “White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. … This is what the worship of death looks like.”
And at the high school level, a document called “Revolution of Values” encourages students to discuss Martin Luther King Jr.’s more “radical” quotes and ideas, including the statement, “We are treading in difficult waters, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong … with capitalism. … There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.”
“The additional elements shoehorned into this curriculum, and particularly the 13 Guiding Principles, reveal an agenda that extends way beyond justice and racial reconciliation,” Vander Plaats concludes. “This is just one of many examples of why parents need to be aware and involved and need to have the opportunity to make educational choices that are in the best interests of their children.”
The Ames Community School District lists the following contact information at the bottom of its Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action page: 2005 24th St., Ames, Iowa 50010, phone: 515/268-6600. Superintendent Jenny Risner can also be emailed at email@example.com, while School Board President Sabrina Shields-Cook can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.