Principal defends transgender discussions during school’s ’emotional check-in’ with students


Parents complain discussions about ‘transgender visibility’ during Georgia school’s weekly ’emotional check-ins’ are ‘promoting an agenda’

  • Marietta High School held presentations about ‘transgender visibility’ during the school’s ’emotional check-ins’ at the start of all Monday classes
  • Material was put together by the school’s Diversity Club as part of the school district’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) program
  • Parents complained to Principal Keith Ball that content about the transgender community was not appropriate for schools
  • Ball argued that the material is not ‘promoting an agenda’ but that teachers are trying to help students be ‘open-minded’

Marietta High School Principal Keith Ball (pictured) defended presentations about ‘transgender visibility’ held during the school’s ’emotional check-ins’ at the start of all Monday classes.

A Georgia high school principal has defended discussions about ‘transgender visibility’ held during school to promote diversity and inclusion.

Principal Keith Ball of Marietta High School told the Marietta Daily Journal that the presentations were organized by and staff of the school’s Diversity Club.

The talks occurred during the first 10 minutes of classes on Monday as teachers held so-called ’emotional check-ins.’

However, some parents complained to Ball and district Superintendent Grant Rivera that club material was taking over time for classes and whether content about the transgender community is appropriate for schools. 

In an email to parents on Thursday, Ball said he understood that parents had ‘deep concern” and that the discussions were ‘not communicated or executed in a way that is consistent with how we do business’ but defended the talks.

The presentations were ‘devoted to understanding [the transgender] community so that it wasn’t viewed as anything more than a fellow human being,’ Ball told the Journal.

‘And I thought that part of it, they did a good job. But understanding the intensity, the sensitivity and the timing, I understand…it’s going to have a reaction. 

According to Ball, the schools has been using the first 10 minutes of each class on Monday to conduct emotional check-ins with students.

Then, in March, the school’s Diversity Club developed a mini-curriculum based on the Marietta City Schools District’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) program.

The three teachers that lead the club decided to tackle four topics: women’s history, students with disabilities, transgender visibility and overall wellness, reported the Journal.

The topics would each get their own week and would be discussed during the emotional check-ins on Mondays with material prepared by the club.

According to Ball, the first two Mondays with the topics were a success. 

The women’s history week covered topics such as the gender-day gap and the lack of women in STEM fields while the disabilities week included topics like how different disabilities manifest and the stigma that surrounds them. 

Parents complained that content about the transgender community was not appropriate for schools but Ball argued that the material is not 'promoting an agenda' but that teachers are trying to to be 'open-minded.' Pictured: Marietta High School

Parents complained that content about the transgender community was not appropriate for schools but Ball argued that the material is not ‘promoting an agenda’ but that teachers are trying to to be ‘open-minded.’ Pictured: Marietta High School

Ball told the Journal that the transgender visibility week was conducted in the same format.  

‘When the kids and the faculty members built this, there was a lot of emphasis on understanding terminology, which is overwhelming,’ he said. 

‘Acronyms, understanding the process of transition, understanding…names, from something as relatively well known as a pronoun, all the way through things that are more complex and intimate relative to what, you know, transgender people want and would appreciate being referred to.’

Following school on Monday, several parents met with or called Ball to complain – some annoyed that he never mentioned the topics would be discussed in his weekly newsletter and others concerned the topic isn’t appropriate. 

In the email to parents, seen by the Journal, Ball wrote that the discussions were never intended to ‘promote an agenda’ as some parents might think.

‘We are not immune to the national political climate, or temperature, no matter what,’ he told the Journal on Thursday.

‘Every subject tends to be an idea that possibly an agenda is being promoted because it’s echoing, either as a whole or a part, a larger narrative that goes on in spaces like social media or cable news or even around dinner tables.

‘We’re trying to teach [students] to be open minded and critical and question the sources and question the information, so that you have what you need to make your own informed decision.’

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