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School Cancels Gender Pronoun Lesson After Threatening Messages

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Gender identity

Following threats to several school staff members, a Michigan school district has decided to cancel a voluntary lesson that aimed to delve into gender identity and pronoun usage through discussions and literature. DeWitt Public Schools made the announcement about the cancellation of the lesson for first graders on Facebook. The planned lesson stirred controversy within the community.


“The purpose of the mini-lesson was to promote greater understanding, compassion, and kindness regarding gender identity and the use of pronouns after concerns were brought to our attention,” Superintendent Shanna Spickard penned a message on Facebook. Spickard mentioned that parents and guardians were provided with prior notification and the choice to exclude their child from the lesson or seek a detailed review of the lesson plan.


Following the announcement of the lesson, Spickard stated that numerous school staff members received hostile and threatening communications via phone calls, emails, and social media. She also highlighted that some staff members were victims of “doxxing,” a cyberbullying tactic involving the online exposure of personal information about them, their families, and children for harassment purposes.


“While the vast majority of these inappropriate communications have originated outside of our community, several staff members have expressed feeling anxious, stressed, and even afraid to go to school. This is unacceptable,” Spickard wrote.

Called off

Due to the threats received, the lesson has been called off. The school district is working closely with law enforcement and has heightened police and administrative presence as a precautionary step.


“When my kid was young, I thought it was just a phase… I thought it was the new thing until my kid tried taking his life because he wasn’t understood,” said Janna in an interview. “Even if people don’t understand it, it’s all about inclusion and making every kid feel safe and welcome in any district.”

Encourage empathy

“I would like to provide you with an update on a supplementary lesson that was provided to students in one of our elementary school classrooms. The aim of this lesson was to encourage empathy, understanding, and respect towards gender identity and pronoun usage, following concerns that were raised.”


The statement continued, “Although most of these inappropriate messages are from external sources, some staff members have shared feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear about attending school. This behavior is unacceptable. We are collaborating with local law enforcement to address these communications and have heightened both police and administrative presence as a precautionary measure.”

DeAnna Giles

Prior to the lesson’s cancellation, DeAnna Giles from WILX interviewed parents with differing views on the lesson plan. Brandi Strahan, a parent with children in DeWitt elementary schools, expressed that discussing pronouns with 5 to 7-year-olds is inappropriate.


“They don’t know who they are yet. They’re still growing.” Strahan made these comments during an interview. Conversely, Janna, a former parent from DeWitt, believes that this lesson could have been beneficial for her family.

Safe and welcoming

“At DeWitt Public Schools, we are committed to providing a safe and welcoming learning environment that helps all our students achieve and succeed. We do not tolerate discrimination, harassment, bullying, or threats of any kind, whether on school property or on social media.


The statement continued, “Parents and guardians were notified beforehand and had the option to exclude their child from the lesson, as it was entirely voluntary and not a part of our regular school curriculum.”


The statement continued, “Following the announcement, our dedicated school staff have been subjected to unwarranted, hostile, and threatening communications via phone calls, emails, and social media. Some staff members have been targeted with ‘doxing,’ where their personal details, along with information about their families and children, have been exposed online to intimidate and harass them.”


“The intention behind the optional mini-lesson was to further the vision of Dewitt Public Schools in creating a secure, caring, and encouraging learning atmosphere where every student can thrive. Regrettably, it has now evolved into a significant disturbance and diversion from that vision, leading to feelings of insecurity among our staff, administrators, and students.”


The statement continued, “Consequently, after discussions with the School Board, administrative team, and school staff, I have chosen to terminate the mini-lesson to safeguard the well-being of our entire school community and uphold our commitment to delivering top-notch education to all learners.”


The statement continued, “We understand that this choice will bring satisfaction to some and disappointment to others within our school community. I want to emphasize that this decision was not made hastily but was based on genuine safety apprehensions raised by our dedicated team of educators and administrators who strive to maintain a culture of excellence every day.”


The statement continued, “I am deeply grateful for the overwhelming support shown by numerous parents, community members, and our exceptional team of teachers, support staff, and school employees. I want to emphasize that this choice will not divert us from our mission and fundamental principles of fostering empathy, kindness, and a deeper appreciation for the diverse society we inhabit. Our goal remains to equip young individuals to become leaders and global citizens in this ever-evolving world. Serving as your superintendent is a privilege I hold in high regard.”

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