On Thursday, April 13, 2023, the Arlington School Committee is holding a hearing on the district’s Grade 4 & 5 Human Growth & Development curriculum, which was updated throughout 2021 and 2022 in a pilot program. The pilot program included new lessons that are inclusive of all genders. The hearing is being held in response to a formal challenge to those curriculum updates.

To see the Arlington School District’s February 9, 2023 presentation to parents about the updated Grade 4 & 5 Human Growth & Development curriculum, please click here.

Below is the testimony from an Arlington parent who has given the Rainbow Commission permission to share it. Click here to read the Rainbow Commission’s testimony.

“My children are in K and 3rd grades, so the topic of the curriculum hasn’t been on my radar yet; however, I learned that the curriculum is inclusive and that inclusivity is being challenged. Now, I am feeling simultaneously happy that APS has prepared an inclusive education but also worried that this education won’t be available for my son next year when he is in 4th grade (I can’t even think about it not being available to my daughter, currently in K, because I refuse to believe inclusivity would still be challenged when she is in 4th grade).

“APS offering curriculum that represents its student body, its students’ families, and our community is critical to developing children who will be inclusive, who will be curious, who will act as allies, who will defend marginalized or bullied people, who will understand the importance of acknowledging and knowing others’ stories, who will be respectful, and more. I don’t think that anyone could argue with any of those points, but the key point so that we can’t pick and choose the representations — it is race, it is religion, it is family make-up, and it is gender diversity.

“Arlington students, family members, and community members are not just cisgender, and excluding gender diversity from the curriculum excludes transgender and non-binary students, relatives, neighbors, etc. from being recognized as equally valuable. I won’t speculate on why this is being challenged, but I can say with certainty that it is very possible, and highly valuable, to present gender issues to children in an age-appropriate way. I’ve had the conversation about gender (describing and discussing cis, trans, and non-binary), at different depths, with both of my children already. And honestly, it was beautiful to see the acceptance that children have — there were some questions, but at the end of the conversations they just said “people should be able to be who they are”. I want this acceptance for all children in Arlington, so that in many years when we send our kids to college and then out into the ‘real world’, they are good people who want a better world for all.”