News Story

DeWitt Schools withdraws plan for pronoun lesson in grades preK-2

One-third of district third-graders not proficient in English

DeWitt Public Schools, citing threats against staff members, canceled plans for a class session to teach what it called “gender identity and the use of pronouns.”

Officials had sent a letter to parents of students in Shavey Road Elementary, telling them that there would be a class on gender and pronouns. The school enrolls students from pre-kindergarten through second grade. “The lesson goals are to help students share and explore pronouns through discussion and literature to embrace differences and promote acceptance,” Liz Crouch, principal of Schavey Road Elementary, wrote to parents.

The lesson would include the following activities:

  • Listen to the book, “They She He Me Free To Be!” and discuss it.
  • Practice using the pronouns “they/them” and and discuss what to do if a student makes a mistake with an incorrect pronoun.
  • Inform students “it’s not ok” to purposely change a person’s preferred pronouns.

“The purpose (of the class) is to promote greater understanding, compassion, and kindness regarding gender identity and the use of pronouns,” Superintendent Shanna Spickard said in an April 17 statement. Spickard added that the class was optional and not meant to change any family’s beliefs. The class, she said, came “in response to concerns brought to our attention, not as part of our general curriculum.”

After receiving public criticism, Spickard canceled the class on April 19, calling it a distraction from the district’s vision of providing a safe and nurturing environment to all students. Spickard said public reaction, much of it from outside the district, put employees in danger, as “several of our hard-working school staff members have received inappropriate, angry, and threatening phone calls, emails, and social media messages.”

Approximately one-third of the district’s students were not proficient in English at the end of third grade, according to the official website MI School Data.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.