CMS backs away from using book about a boy in a dress for first graders

Updated: Mar. 21, 2017 at 5:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board members are concerned they were left in the dark about a controversial curriculum that was about to happen.

First graders were supposed to read the book "Jacob's New Dress," which deals with a student who wants to wear a dress to school and possible bullying that could take place if he did.

Teachers were also expected to talk to the young students about understanding sexual and gender-based harassment.

State leaders thought that was too much.

"These are first graders," State Representative Craig Horn said. "They are having a hard enough time just dealing with themselves at this point. I think that introducing a social agenda is inappropriate and unnecessary."

State leaders are concerned Charlotte wants to allow transgenders to use the bathroom of their choice and now are 'teaching boys it's okay to wear dresses to school.'

"I was aghast," Horn said. "I can't help but wonder what is it are you trying to accomplish here. What is the point?"

CMS board members wished they would have known about the idea, but found out on Monday.

"I am absolutely disappointed in the staff and with the administration and particularly with the superintendent for not informing us of this particular curriculum decision." CMS School Board member Rhonda Lennon said.

CMS Board Chairperson Mary McCray tells WBTV she had a conversation with CMS Superintendent Ann Clark Tuesday about the matter.

"There are going to be some things that you gotta use some common sense about," McCray said. "Especially with the title such as that book. Let me run this by the board first - ultimately it's the board who takes the heat and Ms Clark understands that."

CMS was trying to comply with Federal Guidelines. It states schools should have an anti-bullying and harassment curriculum in place for students.  Lennon tells WBTV the district could have used another book.

"I am very disappointed," Lennon said. "Very disappointed and plan to have some pretty direct conversations with those in leadership that put this into effect."

Leaders from NC Values are reacting and sent WBTV this statement.

"As Charlotte's City Council passed an outrageous ordinance last year that made it necessary for the State to correct the mistake with HB2," NC Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald said. "Charlotte -Mecklenburg schools was working on rolling out a new anti-bullying policy that seeks to indoctrinate students in the school district by normalizing transgender behavior. Both Charlotte's ordinance and the CMS transgender indoctrination were advanced by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT activist group, in conjunction with its NC affiliates, Equality NC and Time Out Youth. They provided the curriculum, the training, and the lesson plans for mandated transgender training for our children, complete with the Gender Unicorn, all while the Bank of America funded the program and the groups that support it.  The purpose of our elementary schools is to teach principals of writing, reading and arithmetic not to encourage boys to wear dresses. CMS is failing our children; In the recent 2016 state academic ratings, 43 of 165 CMS schools achieved overall pass rates below 50% and a majority (59%) earned a grade of C or below when measuring student proficiency and growth. These lessons are not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values. There is no question that this proposed mandated training is nothing more than putting a dress on CMS's Gender Unicorn. We encourage CMS to return their focus to their mission of maximizing academic achievement instead of focusing on this controversial curriculum."

CMS quickly wrote state leaders a letter telling them after their reaction and a re-evaluation on the district's part - "Jacob's New Dress" will not be used.

First graders will now use the book "Red the Crayon" to teach against anti-bully and harassment behavior.

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