Transgender lesson gets New York 7th-grade teacher suspended

A New York public school teacher has been suspended after outraged parents accused her of distributing materials on gender identity that were inappropriate for seventh-graders.

The health teacher at Cambridge Central School, north of Albany, was suspended with pay Tuesday after a parent told other parents on Facebook live that his 11-year-old son brought home a packet of information about sex change operations that included graphic sexual definitions, WRGB-TV reports.

The parent, Sirell Fiel, posted the video on Monday. As of Sunday morning, it had been viewed more than 683,000 times.

“Genital reconstruction surgery.” Fiel says in the video. “Is that really something an 11-year-old kid should be learning and knowing about? No. I don’t think so.”

The station quoted Fiel as saying, “It should not be allowed or tolerated. Period. It’s not your right to take the innocence of my kid like that at that … age.”

The Glen Falls Post Star identified the suspended teacher as Jacqueline Hall. She could not be reached for comment, the paper reported.

Her troubles began when she brought in a member of the Pride Center of the Capital Region, an LGBTQ group, to speak to her 7th grade and 10th grade students on Monday, the paper reported.

The speaker brought with her a four-page handout for seventh-graders that listed LGBTQ terminology. The handout asks students to match terms like homophobia, intersex, polyamory, pansexual, bisexual and cisgender to their definitions, according to the paper.

Acting on Fiel’s complaint, school officials determined that the speaker also gave the students a more detailed 42-page handout on transgender issues that was meant only for the 10th graders.

“I have no problem with the school talking about diversity,” the paper quoted Fiel as saying in a report published Tuesday. “Gay kids are out there, and the kids need to know about it. But the problem I have is that it went so in-depth. That’s too much for 11- and 12-year-olds.”

The speaker was supposed to come back to the school Tuesday. Superintendent Vince Canini told parents in an email that the speaker “was subsequently uninvited.”

The paper reported Friday that the principal knew about the speaker but hadn’t seen the materials or approved them for the students to see.

The paper also reported that the 42-page handout included definitions for a list of words that included transgender, homosexual, homophobia, gay, bisexual, lesbian and coming out.


Page from 42-page handout distributed Monday to 7th graders at Cambridge Central School.

That handout also includes a page titled "The Genderbread Person."

“I would like to again stress that the topic of gender identity was never of concern,” Canini told the paper. “The graphic ‘common terms and definitions’ were. The two are totally separate but have blurred into one which is not the case.”

The paper also interviewed the Pride Center of the Capital Region’s president and CEO Martha Haven, who said her group has been going to schools for 12 years and no one has objected.

“Transgender kids are coming out younger and younger,” Haven said. “If you love kids, you want them to have the most information possible. If a parent has a problem with the presentation, that’s the parent’s problem.”

Fiel said in a second video to parents on Wednesday that he was pleased the school was addressing his concerns.

“It’s blown into something way beyond what I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s awesome. I’m glad I could bring awareness to everybody because it needed to be done.”