July 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Blue Valley asks students to declare preferred pronouns

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Under the guise of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), teachers in Blue Valley are asking students to declare their preferred pronouns, and that practice is encouraged by district administration.  For those who aren’t familiar with the term, asking students to do this is asking whether they preferred to be addressed as male (he/him), female (she/her), or gender-neutral (they/them).

A lot of outraged parents contacted the Sentinel when their children told them what was taking place.  They shared the following information about teachers at Blue Valley North, Blue Valley West, Valley Park Elementary, and Aubrey Bend Middle School.

  • BVW: Lindsay Hoyt Culinary Arts Teacher had a questionnaire; the “About Me” section asks for preferred gender pronouns
  • BVN:  Jason Sickel (Choir Teacher) asked for preferred pronouns
  • BVN:  Ms. Dalton (ELA Teacher) asked for preferred pronouns and also asked, “Can I call you this at school? Can I call you this in front of your parents?”
  • BVN:  Ms. Morris (AP English Comp) asked for preferred pronouns on a paper form.  She also asked if that information should be kept secret from the students’ parents.
  • BVN:  Mr. Chugg asking pronoun questions
  • Valley Park Elementary – Cathy Holtorf
  • Aubrey Bend Middle School – Mr. Weiss and Ms. Amihere.

It is not known whether students were being asked to declare their preferred pronouns elsewhere in the district, but the Sentinel has been told of at least one occurrence in Shawnee Mission and Louisburg.

We asked Superintendent Tonya Merrigan several questions about this issue but we only received a short response from Communications Director Kaci Brutto.

“There is not a district directive for teachers to inquire about students’ preferred pronouns. Teachers who inquire about pronouns may do this to ensure their classroom is a safe and inclusive environment for all students.”

Neither Brutto nor Merrigan would respond to the Sentinel’s other questions:

  • Is this related to Dr. Merrigan saying that she has instructed staff to “insert the DEI work in everything we do?
  • How would parents know that their children are being asked to declare preferred pronouns?
  • Does district policy allow or prohibit teachers from withholding inquiries of this nature from parents?
  • What do you say to parents who object to their children being asked to declare their preferred pronouns and/or feel that such questions put social pressure on students to ‘go along?’

Blue Valley is one of several districts teaching the tenets of critical race theory, and gender is one of the identities that the district includes in what it calls the Dominant Culture.

A slide from a Blue Valley teacher training guide says people who are white, male, heterosexual, upper-middle class, athletic, able-bodied, or neurotypical are in the Dominant Culture.  People who do not fall under one of those identities are part of the subordinate culture.

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