This month the school committee took a short break from talking about COVID-19 in order to address the district’s academic curriculum.

Curriculum director, Heather Brown, informed the committee members that East Longmeadow will voluntarily participate in the state’s “Safe Schools Program.” 

This program, according to DESE’s website, “provides training and technical assistance relating to LGBTQ students and staff” to facilitate “understanding sexual orientation and gender identity.”  The program is available “in public schools across the state including public preschools.”

Ms. Brown said that “elementary specialists” in East Longmeadow reached out to her and expressed an interest in the program.

Screenshot from school committee’s January 18 meeting.

So what exactly will the program entail?

According to DESE,

The Safe Schools Program is proud to offer newly-created curricula materials to help schools provide for LGBTQ-inclusive lessons.  These resources range from hour-long discussions to multi-day lessons, and will help students value the contributions of LGBTQ people and understand their place in history, literature and other fields.

The reading list contains such titles as The Experience of LGBTQ People in the Holocaust and Is Nick Carraway Gay? A Hidden Gay Voice in the American Classic.

Children’s books are included.  One book recommended for elementary students is I Am Jazz.  Its description reads:

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body.  She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing.

A letter from DESE commissioner Jeffrey Riley emphasizes that “School libraries should include a selection of high interest LGBTQ books.”

Of course, none of these details were discussed at the school committee meeting and no committee member had questions or concerns about whether such material is appropriate for young children or acceptable to parents.