The Wake County school system is investigating how LGBTQ-themed flash cards were used in a preschool classroom, saying the items were inappropriate for children that age.
In a news release Friday from N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, Rep. Erin Paré says a constituent emailed her saying that LGBTQIA+ themed flash cards, including one it says showed a pregnant man, were used to teach colors to children in a preschool class at Ballentine Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina. The flash card shows a drawing of a person with short hair.
The school’s principal removed the cards after being contacted by the lawmaker. In a statement Friday, Wake said the materials have been removed from the school and the district is reviewing the matter.
“The district is concerned to learn of the inappropriate instructional resource found in a preschool classroom,” the school district said in the statement. “In order to help fulfill the educational goals and objectives of the school system, we strive to provide high quality instructional materials that will enrich and support the curriculum and enhance student learning.
“An initial review determined that flash cards were not tied to the district’s Pre-K curriculum, did not complement, enrich, or extend the curriculum and were used without the Principal’s review, knowledge, and/or approval.”
Paré, a Wake County Republican, praised the principal for quickly removing the flash cards.
“I am grateful that a concerned constituent reached out and that this issue is being addressed in a swift and professional manner by Ballentine Elementary School,” Paré said in the news release.
“Schools should only be using age-appropriate materials, and these flashcards clearly do not meet that standard for a pre-school classroom. I hope schools across Wake County and the State of North Carolina will follow the example of Ballentine and respond swiftly when a parent expresses concern and ensure that materials like this are not being used to teach young students.”
Republican State Superintendent Catherine Truitt weighed in as well Friday on the flash cards.
“I can think of a hundred other ways to teach colors to pre-school children,” Truitt, a former teacher, tweeted. “Classroom materials need be age appropriate, and this certainly doesn’t meet the mark.”
Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican and chairman of several House education committees, praised Paré, tweeting “nice work Erin.”
GOP legislative action
The news release comes as state Senate Republicans are moving ahead with legislation that would include new school rules such as preventing sexual orientation and gender identity from being discussed as part of the curriculum in K-3 classrooms. The Senate could vote Tuesday on what it calls the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”
LGBTQ advocates have criticized the legislation, accusing lawmakers of trying to keep LGBTQ children in the closet.
Legislation filed this week in the state House would prevent instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms.
In the press release, Moore’s office pointed to a survey from a Republican polling firm that says 57% of North Carolina voters support legislation that would “make parents the primary decision-makers regarding their child’s health and medical decisions and provide parents with opt-out options regarding controversial surveys or age-inappropriate classroom materials.”
“The members of the North Carolina General Assembly are currently reviewing legislation to address this very concern. Parents deserve to know exactly what and how their children are being taught,” according to the news release.