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Park City School District gets pushback over new curriculum

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PARK CITY – A new sex education and anti-bullying curriculum in one elementary school in the Park City district has parents upset.  They’ve lawyered up, and sent a cease and desist letter to the school and the district superintendent.

The program is called “Welcoming Schools” and it’s designed to teach kids about the differences some kids may face.  Some come from lower-income homes.  Others have to overcome language barriers.  Others may feel same-sex attraction or face issues about their gender identity.  The program has books that are geared toward kids from pre-K to the fifth grade, many of them talk about accepting kids with differences.

Park City School District Spokesperson Melinda Colton says they have children who are part of the LGBTQ community, even at a young age.

“We are seeing that in our classrooms at the elementary level.  We’re looking at ways to simply arm teachers with appropriate ways to address learning for all kids,” Colton says.

However, a group of parents called “Stop Welcoming Schools – Utah” issued a press release announcing they delivered a cease and desist letter to Trailside Elementary and to the school district.  They say they’re not anti-LGBTQ, but they believe the program is not just an anti-bullying program.  The group claims the program violates state law about getting a parent’s consent before teaching classes on sexuality.  Plus, they believe there are books within the program that teach political doctrine about the LGBTQ community.

Colton says parents who have concerns are welcome to speak with the district about it.

She says, “If we thought one parent that isn’t happy about it, that’s something we could look at and we could decide whether or not it’s appropriate for this age group.”

However, she believes the cease and desist letter was unnecessary.  The district is giving instructions to teachers about the program, but, they’ve decided to wait to implement it until they’ve studied it more.

“We’ve hit pause.  We’re looking at it to see what teachers think, and then, we’ll take it from there,” she adds.

Colton says the program isn’t mandated by the state, and if they do decide to implement it, not all books would be required reading.